Search Details

Creator George Stubbs, 1724–1806, British
Title Zebra
Alternate Title(s) The First Zebra Seen in England
Portrait of a Zebra, standing, turned to the left, in a park
Date 1763
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 40 1/2 x 50 1/4 inches (102.9 x 127.6 cm) Frame: 47 1/2 × 57 1/4 inches (120.7 × 145.4 cm)
Credit Line Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection
Accession Number B1981.25.617
Collection Paintings and Sculpture
Curatorial Comment This is one of the earliest in a long series of paintings of exotic animals, many of which Stubbs produced for his friends William and John Hunter, the Scottish anatomists and men of science. Stubbs may have met John Hunter in connection with the procurement of cadavers that the older, more socially established, and more medically experienced William dissected for his pupils and other interested people in the basement of his London town house. We do not know why Stubbs painted Queen Charlotte’s zebra, or African “she-ass,” nor why the painting was still in his studio at his death, but it has long been presumed that access to the animal was arranged by William Hunter, who served regularly as accoucheur to the queen. This was in fact the first zebra to be seen in England. It was brought from South Africa in 1762 by Sir Thomas Adams, the commanding officer of H.M.S. Terpsichore, as a gift from the governor for young Queen Charlotte. Two live specimens were dispatched from the Cape of Good Hope in what Malcolm Warner has described as “Noah's-ark fashion,” but only the female survived the voyage. As soon as she reached London, the zebra was installed in the menagerie at Buckingham House (Buckingham Palace) and became an instant celebrity. “The Queen's she-ass,” wrote one observer, “was pestered with visits, and had all her hours employed from morning to night in satisfying the curiosity of the public. She had a sentinel and guard placed at the door of her stable. . . . The crowds that resorted to the Asinine palace were exceeding great,” (MacClintock, 1992, p. 4). In fact, she also inspired a number of rude songs—including this one that circulated in broadsheets: Ye Bucks and ye Jemmies who amble the Park, Whose Hearts and whose Heads are as lightsome as Cork, Through “Buckingham Gate”, as to “Chelsea” you pass, Without Fee or Reward, you may see the Q---‘s A--. “See the Q---‘s A--. See the Q---'s A--, Without Fee or Reward”, &c. (The Queen’s Ass. a new humorous allegorical song . . . By H. Howard, To the Tune of “Stick a Pin There”. Broadsheet, British Museum) Stubbs’s grasp of the anatomical differences between zebras and horses is, of course, masterly, and in the present work the backward direction of the ears, the dewlap on the underside of the neck or the front, and the “gridiron” pattern of the stripes on the nether regions, immediately above the tail—all these are exactly consistent with zoological verisimilitude and, in fact, identify the present animal as the smallest of three subspecies of zebra, the Cape Mountain. “The Queen's Ass” survived until 3 April 1773, perhaps in spite of sharing its accommodation in due course with an elephant and being moved to the Tower of London.
     -- Angus Trumble, 2007-01
Link to This Record http://collections.britishart.yale.edu/vufind/Record/1669240
Subject Terms animal | animal art | dark | exoticism | forest | gifts | landscape | zebra (mammal)
Place Represented Africa
Publications

Julia Marciari-Alexander, This other Eden, paintings from the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 1998, pp. 4, 114-5, no. 42, ND1314.3 Y36 1998 (YCBA)


John Baskett, Paul Mellon's legacy, a passion for British art : masterpieces from the Yale Center for British Art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, pp. 1, 6, 252, no. 23, fig, 1, pl. 23, N5220 M552 P38 2007 OVERSIZE (YCBA)


Venetia Morrison, The art of George Stubbs, Wellfleet Press, Seacaucus, N.J., 1989, pp. 138-9, NJ18 St915 M67 1989+ (YCBA)


Stephen Deuchar, Noble exercise, the sporting ideal in eighteenth-century British art, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1982, pp. 31,34,47, no. 77, ND1388 G7 D48+ (YCBA)


Judy Egerton, British Sporting and Animal Paintings 1655-1867: A Catalogue, , Tate Publishing, London, 1978, pp. 74-75, no. 74, Colour Pl.11, ND1383 G7 B75 OVERSIZE (YCBA)


Lindsay Rothwell, Paul Mellon's legacy, an American's passion for British art : Sackler Wing of Galleries, 20 October 2007 - 27 January 2008 : an introduction to the exhibition for teachers and students., Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK, 2007, p. 21, fig. 2, V 2038 (YCBA)


Paul Mellon's legacy, a passion for British art. [large print labels], Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2007, v.1, N5220 M552 +P381 2007, Mellon Shelf (YCBA)


William Vaughan, British painting, the Golden Age from Hogarth to Turner, Thames and Hudson, London, 1999, p. 169, no. 115, ND466 V28 1999 (YCBA)


Painting in England 1700-1850, collection of Mr. & Mrs. Paul Mellon., Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, 1963, p. 166 (v. 1), no. 315, pl. 164, ND466 V57 v.1-2 (YCBA)


National Gallery of Art, Painting in Georgian England from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1970, p. 6, no. 16, ND488 P25 (YCBA)


Malcolm Warner, Great British paintings from American collections, Holbein to Hockney, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, CT, 2001, pp. 103-5, no. 33, ND464 W27 2001 (YCBA)


Yale University Art Gallery, Painting in England, 1700-1850, from the collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, [exhibition at] Yale University Art Gallery, April 15-June 20, 1965., vol. 1, W. Clowes and sons, New Haven, 1965, pp. 47-8 (v.1), no. 179, pl. 53, ND466 Y35 (YCBA)


Andrew Graham-Dixon, A history of British art, BBC, London, UK, 1996, pp. 121-2, pl. 45, N6761 G72 1996 (YCBA)


Country pursuits, British, American, and French sporting art from the Mellon collections in the Virginia Museum Of Fine Arts, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, Charlottesville, 2007, p. 11, ND1383 G7 V57 2007 + OVERSIZE (YCBA)


Painting in England 1700-1850 from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon, The Royal Academy of Arts Winter Exhibition 1964-65., , Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK, 1964, p. 75 (v. 1), no. 267, pl. 53, ND466 R68 1964 65 (YCBA) , Also available on Microfiche: Fiche B214 (YCBA)


Constance-Anne Parker, Mr. Stubbs, the horse painter., J. A. Allen, London, 1971, p. 88, NJ18 St915 P37 (YCBA) +


Oliver Millar, The later Georgian pictures in the Collection of Her Majesty the Queen., Phaidon, London, 1969, p. xvii (v. 1), ND466 M55 (YCBA) +


Judy Egerton, George Stubbs, painter, catalogue raisonne, Yale University Press, New Haven, Conn., London, 2007, pp. 50-1, 180-1, no. 40, fig. 4, NJ18 St915 A12 E44 2007 + (YCBA)


Stubbs, an exhibition in honor of Paul Mellon : National Gallery of Art, 4 May-2 June 1985., National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1985, no. 27, V 0413 (YCBA)


Judy Egerton, George Stubbs, 1724-1806, [exhibition] Tate Gallery., Tate Publishing, London, 1984, p. 112, no. 77, NJ18 St915 E43 (YCBA) +


Basil Taylor, Stubbs, Phaidon, London, 1975, p. 209, pl. 56, NJ18 St915 T39 1975 (YCBA) +


Malcolm Warner, George Stubbs, his patrons and collectors, Magazine Antiques, vol. 166, no. 6, December 2004, p. 70, pl. XII, V 1629 (YCBA) , Available Online (Orbis).


Basil Taylor, Stubbs, Phaidon, London, 1971, p. 209, pl. 56, NJ18 St915 T39 (YCBA) +


Dorcas Macclintock, Animals observed, a look at animals in art, Scribner, New York Toronto New York, 1993, p. 33, N7660 M25 1993 (YCBA)


Dorcas Macclintock, Queen Charlotte's zebra, 1992, p.5, front cover, V 0143 (YCBA)


Alec Guinness, My name escapes me, the diary of a retiring actor, Hamish Hamilton, London, 1996, p. 171, PN2598 G8 A34 1996 (Bass)


Walter Gilbey, Life of George Stubbs, R.A., Vinton, London, 1898, p. 167, NJ18 St915 G55 (HAAS)


Malcolm Cormack, George Stubbs in the collection of Paul Mellon, a memorial exhibition, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Conn., 1999, p. 39, no. 19, NJ18 St915 G54 1999 (YCBA) , Copy 2 is on Mellopn Shelf


Paul Mellon's legacy, a passion for British art : April 18-July 29, 2007, Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, Conn., 2007, back cover, V 1735 (YCBA)


Geoffrey Agnew, Yale's 1700 Mellon Pictures, The Times (London), issue no. 59989, Thursday, April 28, 1977, p. 9, Available Online : Times Digital Archive , Also available on Microfilm : Film An T842 (SML)


J. B. Myers, Other, Artforum International, Vol. 21, March 1983, p. 44-49, N1 A814 OVERSIZE (HAAS)


John Baskett, Painting in England: 1700-1850, the Collection of English paintings formed by Mr and Mrs Paul Mellon : on Exhibition at the Museum of Fine Arts, Richmind, untik August 18th, Connoisseur, Vol. 153, June 1963, pp. 102, 105, N1 C75 + (YCBA)


Marina Warner, The Analyst: Whether Painting Men or Horses, George Stubbs Knew What Made Them Tick, Connoisseur, v. 215,, March 1985, p. 134, N1 C75 + (YCBA)


Christie's sale catalogue : Catalogue of the Valuable Collection of Pictures & Drawings and Engravings of the Early English School of Sir Walter Gilbey : 12 March, 14 March and 15 March 1910, Christie's, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, March 12, 14 and 15, 1910, p. 26, Lot 147, Fiche B51, Fiche# 1408 (YCBA)


Christie's sale catalogue: Catalogue of a Valuable Collection of Sporting Pictures, Drawings, Engravings and Early English Mezzotints, the property of Walter Gibney : 25 May 1891, Christie's, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, May 25, 1891, p. 22, Lot 348, Fiche B51, Fiche # 0574 (YCBA) , Also Avaialble online : Art Sales Cataalogues - Lugt # 50014


Christie's sale catalogue: Catalogue of Early English portraits and Ancient and Modern Pictures and Drawings : 15 June 1923, Christie's, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, June 15, 1923, p. 14, Lot 58, Fiche B51, Fiche# 2127 (YCBA)


Sotheby's sale catalogue : Catalogue of Valuable Pictures by Old Masters of the Italian and Dutch Schools : 16 May 1928, Sotheby's, London, May 16, 1928, p. 33, Lot 130, Film B12, Reel 90 of 155 (YCBA)


Paul Mellon, Reflections in a silver spoon, a memoir, W. Morrow, New York, 1992, pp. 281, 291, N5220 M552 1992 (YCBA)


Thorvaldsens Museum, Aftenlandet, motiver og stemninger i dansk landskabsmaleri omkring êar 1800., Thorvaldsens Museum, Copenhagen, 2011, pp. 173-75, ND1361.5 A47 2011 (YCBA)


John McDonald, A Feast of Mellon, Sydney Morning Herald, May 9, 1998, p. 14, Film An Sy25 (SML) , Also Available Online (Factiva database)


Lindsay Duguid, The Recollected Works, TLS, the Times Literary Supplement, Issue no. 5458, November 8, 2007, p. 17, Available Online : TLS Archive , Also Available on microfilm : Film S748 (SML)


Society of Artists of Great Britain, A catalogue of the pictures, sculptures, models, drawings, prints, &c. exhibited by the Society of Artists of Great Britain, 1763, p. 8, no. 121, N5055 S6 C3 (RARE BOOKS, YCBA) , Also Available online in Eighteeneth Century Colectionc Online


Herbert W Rott, George Stubbs, 1724-1806, science into art, Prestel, Munich ; New York, 2012, pp. 180-81, cat. no. 45, NJ18.St915 A1213 2012 + OVERSIZE (YCBA)


Robin Blake, George Stubbs and the wide creation, animals, people and places in the life of George Stubbs, 1724-1806, Chatto & Windus, London : Chatto & Windus, 2005, 2005, pp. 215, 278, cl. pl. 11, NJ18.St915 B53 2005 (YCBA)


John Baskett, Zebra by George Stubbs, http://www.youtube.com/v/VVp_eX-JKRA, October 30, 2008, Available Online via YouTube , video


Michael Glover, Scenes from Afar, The Times (London), Saturday, September 22, 2007, p. 28, Available Online : Times Digital Arcive , Also available on Microfilm: Film An T482 (SML)


Catherine M. Gordon, British paintings Hogarth to Turner, Frederick Warne, London, 1981, p. 62, ND466 G67 (YCBA)


Robert Michael Neuman, Baroque and Rococo art and architecture, Pearson, Boston, 2013, p. 401, N6415.B3 N48 2013 (YCBA)


A Great Collection of British Pictures in Virginia, The Times (London), Issue No. 55689, May 1, 1963, p. 22, Available Online : Times Digital Archive , Also available on Microfilm: Film An T482 (SML)


Giles Waterfield, Mr Mellon, RA : the magazine for the Friends of the Royal Academy, No. 96, Autumn 2007, p. 71, V 1905 (YCBA) , Detached from RA, no.96 (2007:Autumn)


A Zebra, a tigress and a cheetah : new light on Geirge Stubbs's exotic animal subjects, British Art Journal, Vol. 15, Autumn 2014, pp. 99-100, 101, 107, pl. 1, N6761 B74 OVERSIZE (YCBA)


Mark Laird, A natural history of English gardening, 1650-1800, The Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, New Haven, 2015, pp. 248, 250, pl. 222, SB457.6 .L35 2015 OVERSIZE (YCBA)


Christopher Plumb, The Georgian menagerie : exotic animals in eighteenth-century London, I.B. Tauris, London, 2015, p. 186, fig. 8, QL73.G72 L667 2015

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