The Horse Painter

Michael Prodger at The New Statesman:

Stubbs was, however, an interpreter as well as an observer. His pictures reveal his fascination with relationships; between owners and their horses and hounds, between servants and masters, between animals themselves. And they show his very modern conviction that animals have emotions similar to and every bit as potent as our own. The eyes of his creatures are full of feeling and frequently stare back at the viewer with disconcerting intensity. You need only to look at the eye of his horse being devoured by a lion, a motif he returned to again and again, to be made uncomfortable as a witness to its agony. In a remarkable late work of 1800 showing the Earl of Clarendon’s gamekeeper with his dog about to dispatch a doe, man and doomed animal look out of the painting, making the viewer complicit in the coup de grâce. Other near contemporaries such as James Ward and Théodore Géricault gave their animals emotions, but without the same fellow feeling.

more here.