After George Stubbs, The Fall of Phaethon - 1828 watercolour painting


An original 1828 watercolour painting, After George Stubbs The Fall of Phaethon.

This dramatic watercolour painting depicts in reverse George Stubbs's famous oil painting The Fall of Phaeton (1777). The horizontal format of the painting enhances the sense of sideways movement and gives the painting a frieze-like quality. In Greek mythology, Phaethon, son of the sun god Helios, insisted on driving his father's sun chariot for one day, but was unable to control the horses. Stubbs chose to depict this mythological subject in a conscious move away from his usual horse subjects and the 'low' genre of animal painting, in an attempt to be recognised as an artist of real status and ambition.

On paper watermarked 'J Whatman 1828'.

Unsigned. An indistinct inscription is partially visible on the verso at the upper edge, where it appears that the sheet has been trimmed, which in part reads 'Phaedra'.
The left and right edges of the sheet are somewhat creased and age toned. There is a repaired tear to the upper right edge, and a shorter repaired tear below, lower right.
23.4cm x 47.2cm.

This work is one of a fascinating collection of equestrian pictures we have for sale connected with two highly regarded horse painters: Charles Loraine-Smith (1751-1835), a keen horseman known for his early hunting and sporting scenes; and Charles Cooper Henderson (1803-1877), the preeminent painter of Victorian horses and coaches. Both artists were instrumental in developing the genre of horse painting, and achieved fame and popularity through print reproductions after their work. At a time when animal painting was seen as a ‘lower’ form of art, these artists were pioneering in establishing the respectability and status of the genre.

The collection includes signed works by both these artists, as well a number of interesting works by other members of the Loraine-Smith family: Charles’s son, Reverend Loraine Loraine Smith (1784-1857), and daughter-in-law, Isabella – who were both keen horse-riders, and produced personal studies of horses and hunting subjects under Charles’s influence.

This collection also includes horse pictures by other notable names, such as Jules Léon Montigny, Henry Thomas Alken, Anthony Devis and Frank L. Emanuel. And there are studies after George Stubbs, James Pollard and Leonardo da Vinci.

The story behind why these equestrian pictures have come together is a mystery, but it is possible that the collection was at one time owned by Charles Cooper Henderson. Our collection includes a watercolour by William James Müller – and, interestingly, Charles’s brother, the distinguished art collector John Henderson, was an avid collector of Müller’s works. Together, these pictures, spanning the late 18th into the early 19th century, show the ever increasing British obsession with all things equine.

Text copyright © 2017 Somerset & Wood Fine Art Ltd. All rights reserved.

Product code: JH-987

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