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When it comes to the painting of horses, there is no artist more well-known than the English artist, George Stubbs. During the 1760s he produced a group of pictures, based on the theme of mares and foals.
One of those paintings is the work titled Brood Mares and Foals. It is part of a private collection. At the height of his career, in 1767 George Stubbs painted the picture known as Brood Mares and Foals. The painting is relatively unknown, having been seen in public on four occasions in its long history. It measures 100cm by 187cm and is an oil on canvas painting.
Stubbs signature appears in the lower right of the painting. Until its sale in 2010, the painting's owner was Colonel George Lane Parker and his descendants. It's thought that Colonel Parker commissioned the picture. The painting went to auction for the first time at Sotheby's in London. It had an auction guide price of between £10m and £15m. An anonymous buyer successfully bid £10,121,250 for the work.
The painting shows a small group of brood mares and foals standing peacefully in an idyllic landscape. They have a calm manner and a noticeable sense of well-being. In the painting, Stubbs brings out the grace and breeding of the horses, showing the interactions between them. Although the brood mares and foals show no signs of being trained animals, they don’t appear wild. Behind them is a thatched stall, overlooked by trees and a rocky outcrop. It is Stubbs use of changes in colour within the background, as well as his attention to detail, that brings out the beauty of the horses. As for the landscape, this is a more general representation of the English countryside and not a specific place.
In painting horses, Stubbs adopted a style that involved perfection and attention to detail. For him, it was an intellectual process that allowed him to show the ideal beauty of his subjects. Through his paintings, Stubbs portrayal of brood mares and foals shows them in a way that's not dependent on man. Brood Mares and Foals is an important work that shows how Stubbs is the established master of the painting of horses.