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Painted in oils on canvas by artist George Stubbs in 1769, this charming painting transports us to another era.
It's a perfect example of Romanticism movement art. The Romanticism movement, which influenced not only art but also literature, music and intellectual thought, peaked in the early to middle 19th century. Once you’ve seen Colonel Pocklington with his Sisters, you’ll remember it for a long time. Romanticism was a reaction against the logical thinking of the Enlightenment. Romantic art generally focussed on feelings and emotions, exploring subjects like mystery and spirituality. One of the main features of the romantic style of painting was the fact that the brush strokes are much looser than in earlier styles.
Stubbs was noted for his paintings of horses and sure enough, Colonel Pocklington’s horse makes an appearance, although he's not referred to in the title. The horse was as common a mode of transport in the 18th century as the car is today. The picture, which is now housed in the National Gallery of Art, Washington DC USA is a long way from the town of Pocklington in Yorkshire, from where Colonel Pocklington gets his family name. This painting was gifted to the gallery by Mrs. Charles S. Carstairs in memory of her husband.
Colonel Pocklington is the centre of the painting, along with his horse. He wears a type of military dress and according to his title, he has a military rank. This painting was probably commissioned by Colonel Pocklington. His sisters, although very much in evidence, have supporting roles. Whenever see brothers and sisters pictured together, they are usually quite young. This set of siblings is mature. Colonel Pocklington is probably the adored younger brother of two formidable sisters, both elegantly dressed. One of the sisters is feeding something to the horse. These sisters may be unmarried and therefore dependent on their brother for his protection.
This painting provides us with a window into another time. It’s a charming family portrait. We see Colonel Pocklington posing beside his horse and the two sisters standing by. It's a happy family, judging by the love shown to the horse.