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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The paintings of George Stubbs underline his qualities as one of the greatest British painters of the 18th century

Few artists have shown more of a love for the British countryside through art than Stubbs, placing him in a similar category to the likes of Turner and Constable.

Whilst holding exceptional skills as a draughtsman, it is undoubtably his paintings that remain most memorable from his extensive career.

Despite the beauty of the paintings found in this section, Stubbs received little or no training. Several influential friends would have inspired much of his work from his early days in Liverpool.

At his peak Stubbs preferred oil on canvas, sometimes adding pine resins. The painting techniques used by the artist are considered by most to be fairly conventional, just with an unusually high level of craft.

Victoria Pemberton-Pigott, a respected art historian proclaimed:

"...Stubbs' customary procedure was first to lay in the animals with a very liquid or dilute paint, probably a drying oil extended by pine resin, which he treated in the manner of a translucent watercolour wash..."

Stubbs would then start to build detail upon these lighter shades. Finally he would add a strong element of light to the subject before moving on to other areas of the painting. Later additions to his work would be heavier paints which draw out a greater contrast across the finished work.

Considerable years have passed since George Stubbs' career took off and for this reason it is necessary to use ultraviolet light to extract some of the more subtle intracies of the artist's technique. His use of a fluorescing medium cross the majority of his canvases is viewed as fairly unique.

This finishing technique has also helped to keep many of the paintings in remarkably good condition when compared to other artists from the 18th century. Whilst its impact from an artistic sense has long since faded away, it has ensured that many of Stubbs' artworks are not yet in any real need of restoration.