George Stubbs

I am looking at the skeletal structure of animals in order to see how they have informed George Stubb’s work.

Here are some diagrammatic drawings of horses’ and skeletons.

Horse_anatomy_head skeleton

I can see how they might help you to understand the form of an animal, in the same way that drawing nude humans is more informative and accurate than drawing clothed humans.  One difficulty which this method might pose is that a living horse looks very different from a skeleton horse; this makes me question the convenience of drawing the skeletal form.

George Stubbs

George Stubbs, Etching for Anatomy of the Horse, 1766. 52 x 41

I think these drawings have a sinister coldness about them; they are a little bit nightmarish and remind me of surrealism drawings. They don’t look very much like horses.  Stubbs uses line and tone to describe different aspects of the figure.  I have found finished pieces to see how these studies may have informed his them.


Below are some of Stubbs’ paintings.  I think you can see how his studies of the skeletal horse have informed his work.  I think that knowing he studied a skeleton explains a lot about his paintings.  The horses have a lifelessness about them, and they look very thin.  I wonder if this is because of the skeleton?

You can see if you compare the drawings of the horses to the paintings of the horses that the shadows are in the same places on the bodies on both.  That is interesting.  I think this shows that Stubbs was helped by making his preliminary studies.


The drawing below has the most natural appearance that I could find.  I still think that the way the background is painted doesn’t match the way the horse is painted.  Perhaps this is due to the style of Romanticism painting.   These horses just don’t look right to me.  I suppose they were drawn from the skeletons, and perhaps in reality they had a person with them to make them keep still, which explains the way they are standing.  I think that’s why they look odd.


Bay Hunter by a Lake 1787 by George Stubbs 1724-1806

Bay Hunter by a Lake 1787

In the above painting the light seems to be coming from more than one direction and his or her neck looks too thin.


Anatomy of the horse 1766

I am puzzled by George Stubbs’ drawings and paintings, so I have found a photo on the internet of a horse to compare them to.  I suppose this could be a different type of horse, so this is not a conclusive exploration, but it is helpful for me to see.


I think he was making their necks and legs too long and thin.


1 thought on “George Stubbs

  1. Pingback: Project: Drawing animals | Eve's art

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