Stubbs and the Anatomy of the Horse

George Stubbs (25 August 1724 – 10 July 1806) made famous for his painitng of horses including the above image Whitlejack on show at the National Gallery london.

His method for learning about and understand horses from a purley subjective point of view change the way in which Horses were represented in art and helped change the way horses were thought about and treated. As recently as the 1700s ”experts” on the horse beleived that a Horse had no brain. After Stubbs made his reasearch and produced his images and notations people understood horses in a different way (of course he is not alone in making this change happen though he played a part). Now people understood they had brains and some felt, even a soul. This leap in empathy was arrived at by objective and some may think cold means. As shown in the below text written by a friend of Stubbs, Ozias Humphrey.

”The first subject that he procured, was a horse which was bled to death by the jugular vein; after which the arteries & veins were injected.-A Bar of Iron was then suspended from the ceiling of the room by a teagle to which Iron Hooks of various sizes & lengths were fixed.-Under tho bar a plank was swung about 18 inches wide for the horses feet to rest upon and the animal was suspended to the Iron Bar by the above mentioned hooks which were fastened to the opposite side of the horse to that which was intended to be designed; by passing the Hooks thro’ the Ribs & fastening them under the Back bone…

He first began by dissecting and designing the muscles of the abdomen proceeding thro’ five different lay[er]s of muscle till he came to the peritoricum & the pleura, through which appeared the lungs & the intestines-afterwards, the Bowels were taken out, and cast away.-then he proceeded to dissect the Head by first stripping off the skin, & after having cleaned and prepared the muscles &c. for the drawing, he made careful design of them, & wrote the explanations which usually employed him a whole day.-He then took off another lay’ of muscles, which he prepared, designed, & described in the same manner as is represented in the work.-and so he proceeded till he came to the skeleton.

It must be noted that by means of the Injection, the Muscles, the Blood vessels and nerves, retained their form to the last without undergoing any change.-In this manner he advanced his work by stripping off the skin & cleaning & preparing as much of the subjects he concluded would employ a whole day to employ a whole day to prepare, design, and describe, till the whole subject was completed.

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