George Stubbs (1724-1806)

Considered to be the greatest British painter of horses, his 'Anatomy of the Horse' was published in 1766. He became interested in painting on various substances, and as a result he came to the attention of Josiah Wedgwood I's partner, Thomas Bentley. Wedgwood then set about the task of providing ceramic plaques for Stubbs to paint on using special enamel colours.

Wedgwood wrote to Bentley in 1779 saying – "When you see Mr Stubs (sic) pray tell him how hard I have been labouring to furnish him with the means of adding immortality to his excellent pencil". At the time the paintings were viewed by the public with disapproval, with most of them remaining unsold at the time of Stubbs' death. Nowadays the paintings are highly prized.

In July 1780 Stubbs visited the Wedgwood family, staying at Etruria Hall for several months. During this time he modelled two bas-reliefs for Wedgwood, 'The Frightened Horse' and 'The Fall of Phaeton'. He also produced the Wedgwood family painting in oil on (wood) panel, which featured Josiah I, his wife Sarah, and their seven surviving children in the grounds of Etruria Hall, as well as producing twin portraits of Josiah and Sarah which were painted on ceramic plaques.


George Stubbs, © Wedgwood Museum

George Stubbs
© Wedgwood Museum