Celebrated 18th Century painter George Stubbs is the subject of MK Gallery’s latest critically acclaimed exhibition ‘all done from Nature’ which closes this January.
Showing until 26th January 2020, George Stubbs ‘all done from Nature’ has been wowing audiences since it opened in October and is the biggest retrospective of the artist in over 35 years. Now, as we enter the final month of the exhibition, it’s the last chance to see some of these world famous and historically important masterpieces in Milton Keynes.
George Stubbs (1724-1806) is one of the UK’s greatest artists. A self-taught draughtsman, painter and printmaker, Stubbs was also a genuine artist-scientist, who made a lasting impact on the study of anatomy and the natural world. It was only in the mid-20th century that his position as a modest animal painter was reassessed and he became recognised as one of the great Enlightenment figures, who charted the discovery of new animal species across the world and depicted them, as well as his trademark horses, with a sense of curiosity and empathy that transcended his extraordinary technical ability.
Perhaps most famous of all his paintings, Stubbs’s life size rearing horse portrait Whistlejacket has been an emotional and striking encounter for many visitors to MK Gallery. The painting sits in the biggest of the new galleries and is a rare loan from The National Gallery. Whistlejacket is adjacent to the skeleton of the uber-famous 18th century race horse Eclipse. Borrowed from the Royal Veterinary College, the skeleton has had each bone DNA tested to show it came from this champion race horse, from which 95% of today’s thoroughbred racehorses are descended.
The final room of the exhibition shows Stubbs’s passion and interest in all of the natural world. Visitors will see the first western life-like painting of a rhinoceroses with a tragic real life story of mis-treatment, sketches of lemurs and monkeys, and anatomical drawings of fowl, cats and humans. In this room you can see how, 60 years before Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species, Stubbs was piecing together commonality between animals.
George Stubbs: ‘all done from Nature’ at MK Gallery until 26 January.
Tickets at mkgallery.org or at the Gallery ticket desk.