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One of the most important British paintings of the eighteenth century, Whistlejacket is probably the most well-known portrait of a horse. It is also widely acknowledged to be George Stubb's masterpiece. The Arabian chestnut stallion had won a famous victory at York in 1759, but by 1762 had been retired from racing. He belonged to the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, who commissioned Stubbs to paint a commemorative life-size portrait of his prize horse on a scale that was more appropriate for a group portrait or historical painting.

Stubbs excludes any reference to a rider, riding equipment or location, painting the magnificent rearing horse against a neutral background of pale gold. Despite suggest...

c. 1762
Oil on canvas
296.1 x 248.0cm
Image and text © The National Gallery, London, 2023

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