Tristram Shandy, a bay racehorse held by a groom, in an extensive landscape, 1762
George Stubbs, A.R.A. (1724 – 1806)
Having become extremely recognized for his work in equestrian paintings, the great George Stubbs would often be commissioned to paint the most prized possessions of the rich and powerful.
Considered to be among his most celebrated works, this 1762 oil on canvas was possibly commissioned by Lord Bolingbroke and was sold at the Christie’s of London auction house in 2000 for over £2,000,000. While there is discussion over the precise identity of the painting’s patron, the racehorse pictured in it was recorded to have raced for Lord Bolingbroke at Newmarket a number of times, earning him over three hundred guineas that year and two hundred the year before. This led art historians to infer that the painting is very likely to be a celebratory portrait of a winning horse, a then widespread practice for racehorse collectors such as Lord Bolingbroke.
Tristam Shandy, named after Lawrence Sterne’s extremely popular eccentric hero, can be said to have been somewhat successful, if short.