Sotheby’s in London tonight set a new world auction record for a work by the British master George Stubbs (1724-1806) when his Brood Mares and Foals sold for £10,121,250 / $15,906,556 / €12,096,885. This was well over three times the previous auction record for Stubbs. The previous auction record for a work by George Stubbs was £3,191,500 ($5,079,579) and this was set by his Portrait of The Royal Tiger, which sold in June 1995.
Brood Mares and Foals was arguably the finest painting by Stubbs ever to come to the market. Painted in 1768, at the height of the British master’s career, the mares and foals scene is a superlative example of his talents as both a horse and landscape painter. Never before offered for sale, the painting had remained in a distinguished family collection for all of its life to date (prior to the sale) and its appearance at auction therefore represented an exceptionally rare opportunity for both equestrian and British art collectors alike.
The painting was probably commissioned by Colonel George Lane Parker, the second son of George Parker – the second Earl of Macclesfield of Shirburn Castle, Oxfordshire – and an important owner of Stubbs’s work. It then passed to Thomas Parker, the third Earl of Macclesfield, whose descendant offered the painting for sale tonight.
Speaking after the sale, Emmeline Hallmark, Director and Head of British Pictures at Sotheby’s, commented: “George Stubbs is, in my opinion, the greatest horse painter of all time and it has been an immense pleasure to present for sale this exceptionally fine work by him, which is instantly recognisable as one of his most beautiful and iconic compositions.”