Ralph Stubbs (1824-1879)
These works are one of a number of graphite drawings, mainly of Sandsend and the Mulgrave Woods near Whitby in North Yorkshire, attributed to the local artist Ralph Reuben Stubbs (1824-1879). Considering the similarity between these drawings and a number of previous Stubbs oils sold at auction, it is likely this collection was done as a set of preparatory sketches for his finished paintings.
Very little is known about the Yorkshire-born and based artist Ralph Reuben Stubbs. He appears to have come from an artistically inclined family – there is a Ralph Stubbs listed as an artist living in Hull in the previous generation (1774-1845), so it is likely our artist is his son. Ralph R. Stubbs appears to have had no formal training - obituaries list him as being ‘self-taught from Nature’, gradually honing his craft and gaining a reputation that saw him steadily move around the coast, from York to Scarborough and then to Whitby, to paint landscapes and nautical scenes, for which he was most well known.
Though he was celebrated in the Yorkshire area, he apparently did not exhibit publicly in London until very late in life, in the early 1870s, some few years before his death. He is known to have exhibited ‘three works at the Royal Academy, two at the British Institution and ten at Suffolk Street’. He premiered a work at the Royal Academy in 1873 entitled ‘Beggar’s Bridge’, which was in the collection of his local patron R. Collinson of Scarborough, which was ‘universally admired’. He died in Lewisham in April 1879.
His works can be found in The Ferens Art Gallery in Hull, Whitby Museum, Wakefield and Reading Museums, Hull University Art Collection and The Cooper Gallery.
Our collection is very specifically rooted in Stubbs’ much loved Yorkshire landscape. All images attempt to capture the expansive virility of that county’s land and sea - where figures are present, they appear small and minuscule, dwarfed by their Romantic surroundings. Though they are expressively drawn, they still show an attention to delicacy and detail that marked Stubbs’ later works in oil, and which made him a prevailing artist of his time.