Note: This blog post is an entirely Bridgeman-Education-Image-Free Zone!
This skeleton of a horse is from the website of The National Horseracing Museum. It’s interesting to compare the skull with my drawing of Old Billy’s skull.
Research the anatomical drawings of George Stubbs (1724-1806) and consider how these inform Stubb’s finished pieces.
George Stubbs was the son of a Liverpool tanner and even as a boy would draw animal bones and help his father prepare the hides.
In 1756, Stubbs rented a farmhouse in Lincolnshire, and there, he spent 18 months dissecting horses supplied by nearby tanneries, making close observations of each layer, from skin to muscle to skeleton. The result of this research was The Anatomy of the Horse which was published in 1766. (Stubbs could not find an engraver willing to take on the job of engraving plates for publication so had to carry out the job himself.)
Although in many ways Stubbs’s studies of the anatomy of a horse were similar to da Vinci’s animal studies, the later are far more ‘alive’. While clearly using the details he had discovered, Stubbs’s finished works are posed, static and, in my opinion, as lifeless as the specimens he had dissected. Even his most famous painting, the National Gallery’s Whistlejacket, which features a rearing horse, sadly fails my ‘Would I have it on my wall?’ test.
Whistlejacket by George Stubbs