Bonhams Sells Stubbs Painting for $3.1Million

A recently rediscovered painting by George Stubbs (1724-1806), one of the masters of British sporting art who is best known for his paintings of horses, fetched $3,160,000 at Bonhams’ Sale of Old Master Paintings in London. The price achieved was a world-record for a Stubbs horse painting without a figure. Following a lengthy bidding battle between three buyers in the saleroom and another on the telephone, ‘A dark bay thoroughbred in a landscape’, eventually sold to Ray Waterhouse of Fine-Art Brokers, London. The painting, which was initially expected to fetch up to £600,000, was bought by Mr Waterhouse on behalf of New York collector who has yet to see it – he is currently on holiday in Europe and has been communicating with Mr Waterhouse by email. Final instructions were received last night, when the purchaser increased his limit.

Following the sale, Mr Waterhouse said: “The purchaser is a collector with a connoisseur’s eye. We both thought that this was a unique opportunity to purchase a great work by the artist. The painting was in superb condition and we felt that there might not be another chance like it in the foreseeable future.”

Arriving fresh to the market after more than 40 years in a titled private collection, the painting had been uncovered by Bonhams’ specialists during a recent probate valuation. The impressive oil on canvas (127 x 101.5 cm) is in exceptionally good condition – unlike many of Stubbs’ oils on panel, which have not fared as well.

Little is known of the painting’s early history, although it is thought to date from the early 1760s, and is presumed to have been an important commission due to its impressive size. A century later, in 1862, it is recorded that the composition was hanging in one of the UK’s grandest houses, Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire, home to one of England’s most powerful families, the Dukes of Marlborough. It is believed that the 8th Duke of Marlborough sold the painting in 1886 along with a number of other works of art.

Bonhams’ Old Master Paintings Specialist Andrew McKenzie said: “George Stubbs is one of Britain’s most celebrated artists and any significant work by him, which appears on the market, is certain to arouse excitement. This painting offered the world’s collectors, museums and institutions the rare chance of acquiring a classic image of British Art and we are delighted with exceptional price it achieved.”

George Stubbs’ first love was anatomy and his precise dissections were recorded in detail. His “Anatomy of the Horse” was published in 1776 and this knowledge was translated into his works of art, which remain unrivalled even today. His position in the market was such that he painted the most famous horses in Europe.

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Published in: on July 15, 2003 at 2:53 am  Leave a Comment  
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