Horse art genius George Stubbs on display at Milton Keynes Gallery from Saturday

The famous Whistlejacket by George Stubbs
The famous Whistlejacket by George Stubbs

The biggest exhibition for 35 years of works by one of the UK’s greatest artists is coming to MK Gallery this weekend.

George Stubbs: All Done From Nature will bring together more than 40 paintings and 40 prints and drawings.

Hunting scene by George Stubbs at MK Gallery

Hunting scene by George Stubbs at MK Gallery

They include the rare loan of the National Gallery’s masterpiece Whistlejacket, as well as lesser known works, some of which have not been seen in the UK for decades.

Stubbs (1724-1806) was a self-taught draughtsman, painter and printmaker but 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. 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.

The exhibition includes his groundbreaking, forensic drawings of horses produced during an intense 18-month period of dissection and classification. For the first time, these studies will be displayed alongside an actual skeleton of a horse, in this case, Eclipse – the legendary 18th-century thoroughbred and progenitor of over 90% of subsequent racehorses.

Although his wide-ranging subjects included portraits, conversation pieces and depictions of exotic animals, Stubbs never tired of painting horses and his reputation was established through the striking compositions that he brought to breeding, racing and hunting.

Anthony Spira, director at MK Gallery said: “Bringing the broadest survey of George Stubbs in 35 years to MK Gallery in our opening year is incredibly exciting.

“Looking at animals at a time when new species were being discovered has never been more poignant than in our own age of extinction.

“To be guided by one of the most forensic and empathetic chroniclers of the natural world in

George Stubbs is a real privilege. We hope that showing an old master in a new town will bring contemporary perspectives to this extraordinary work.”

The exhibition runs at MK Gallery from October 12 to January 26.

For more information and tickets click here