Mezzotintpublished 14 November 1776
About the work
A group of mares and fouls are gathered by a rocky formation. To the left of the composition, is an impressive grey Arabian mare. Behind the horses is a low, thatched shed. To the right is a weeping willow and rhubarb plants can be seen to the left.
The original oil painting, on which this engraving is based, was exhibited at the Society of Artists, in London, in 1768 as ‘Brood Mares and Foals’. It is thought to have been commissioned by Colonel George Lane Parker of Woodbury, Cambridgeshire; the brother of the third Earl of Macclesfield. Parker was an important collector of works by George Stubbs. The painting was sold by a descendant of Parker in 2010.
This mezzotint print by Benjamin Green is reversed from the original painting. Green’s print was first published soon after the original work was painted and then exhibited at the same exhibition of the Society of Artists in 1768. However, the engraver sold his plate to publisher Sayer & Bennett in 1775 or 1776, who issued this subsequent mezzotint as the second of a series of six prints engraved by Green after paintings by Stubbs.
About the artist
George Stubbs was born in Liverpool; the son of a currier. He worked with his father before assisting Hamlet Winstanley. From 1745 he studied anatomy at York County Hospital and later made studies in horse anatomy, drawing and dissecting horses with the assistance of Mary Spencer, his common-law wife. He moved to London in c.1759 and published ‘Anatomy of the Horse’ (1766). Patrons included the second Marquess of Rockingham. He exhibited at the Society of Artists (1761-74), serving as Director (1765-74), Treasurer (1768-72) and President (1772-73). He was elected a Royal Academician but failed to submit his diploma work. His final publication compared the anatomies of a human, tiger and common fowl (published 1804-06). He died aged 81.
Benjamin Green was from Shropshire. After his elder brother, James, succeeded George Vertue as engraver for Oxford University and the Society of Antiquaries, he took over engraving the University almanacs, producing plates for those of 1760-62 and 1766. In 1762 he was appointed Assistant Drawing Master to Christ’s Hospital (charity school) in Newgate, becoming Drawing Master in 1766. He exhibited with the Incorporated Society of Artists (1765-74) and became a director in 1771. He engraved nine large mezzotints after works by George Stubbs. After 1771 Green mostly engraved plates for books on drawing, but also made etchings after his own landscapes and was one of the first to use soft ground etching. He died at Christ’s Hospital, aged c.59.