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Hambletonian, Rubbing Down

George Stubbs, RA (Liverpool 1724 – London 1806)

Category

Art / Oil paintings

Date

1799 - 1800 (signed and dated) (exh at RA)

Materials

Oil on canvas

Measurements

2096 x 3673 mm (82 1/2 x 144 5/8 in)

Place of origin

London

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Collection

Mount Stewart, County Down (Accredited Museum)

On show at

Main Stairs & Main Landing, Mount Stewart, County Down, Northern Ireland, National Trust

NT 1220985

Caption

This painting shows Hambletonian, the celebrated racehorse. being rubbed down after winning the Match Race with Mr Joseph Cookson's 'Diamond' at Newmarket racecourse on 25 March 1799. It was commissioned by the owner, Sir Henry Vane Tempest, Bart (1771-1813), whose daughter Frances Anne, was later to marry Charles Stewart. This is one of Stubbs' greatest paintings. Painted at the end of his long career, it demonstrates his profound understanding of the anatomy of the horse, and his deep empathy with the animal.The groom and trainer, who attend Hambletonian, display an equal protection and tenderness towards the horse. Stubbs captures the horse's exhausted conditions. There is little or nothing in the painting by way of a celebration, nor is there a tribute to the victorious owner, Harry Vane-Tempest. Stubbs had to take Vane-Tempest to court of claim the 300 guineas he was owed for the painting. Perhaps this is why a second painting, showing the finish of the race, was never completed.

Summary

Oil painting on canvas, Hambletonian, Rubbing Down by George Stubbs, RA (Liverpool 1724 – London 1806), signed and dated, lower centre: Geo: Stubbs 1800. A painting of a racehorse in the final stages of exhaustion attended by a groom and stable boy. Commissioned by the owner, Sir Henry Vane-Tempest, 2nd Bt (1771-1813) whose only child and daughter was later married to the 3rd Marquess of Londonderry, it shows the celebrated thoroughbred, Hambletonian (1792 - 1818) being rubbed down after the close match with Mr Joseph Cookson's Diamond at Newmarket on 25 March 1799.

Provenance

Commissioned by Sir Henry Vane-Tempest, 2nd Bt (1771-1813) in 1799; thence by descent to his daughter and only child, Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry (1800-1865) at Londonderry House, London; substituted by Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry, at the auction at Christie's, London, on 9 July 1853, of "a small collection of pictures from Glenarm Castle, Ireland, the residence of the late Edmund Macdonald, Esq.", after the catalogue was printed, for a "modern portrait" of Lady Frances [Anne] Vane (lot 10), Ströhling’s autograph replica of the portrait of her father, and a portrait of herself by Lawrence; bought from this auction by ‘Street’ for £24, apparently on behalf of Frances Anne, Marchioness of Londonderry and hung at Wynyard Park, Co. Durham (where the horse was buried); thence by descent, until transferred to the National Trust by Lady Mairi Bury (1921-2009) in 1976.

Credit line

Mount Stewart, The Londonderry Collection (National Trust)

Marks and inscriptions

Lower centre: Geo: Stubbs 1800 Cartouche is hanging below painting on the wall: Hambletonian 1800 Stubbs Pinx (accompanying cartouche)

Makers and roles

George Stubbs, RA (Liverpool 1724 – London 1806), artist

References

Casement 2007 Anne Casement, "The strange sale of pictures from Glenarm: Stubbs’s ‘Hambletonian, rubbing down' ", The National Trust Annual, 2007, pp.57–61 Egerton 2007 Judy Egerton, George Stubbs, Painter: Catalogue Raisonné, Yale University Press, New Haven and London, 2007

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