George Stubbs' Mares and Foals

George Stubbs' Mares and Foals will be offered at the first part of Christie’s Old Masters sale on July 2 with an estimate of £7m-10m.


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Auction house Christie’s will offer it at the first part of its Old Masters sale on July 2. According to the saleroom it is one of the “last two on this scale of any subject to remain in private hands”.

Mares and Foals, dated to c.1769, is regarded as the “grandest statement” in a series of paintings executed in the 1760s and is believed to have been painted for Augustus Fitzroy, 3rd Duke of Grafton (1735-1811), the British Prime Minister from 1768-70. The duke was part of a group of ‘Whig’ statesmen that provided Stubbs with his most important patronage of that time.

During this decade Stubbs painted Whistlejacket for Lord Rockingham (c.1762), which is in the National Gallery, and Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath, painted for Lord Bolingbroke in c.1765, which set an auction record for the artist when it sold at Christie’s in 2011 for £22.4m.

'Genius for animal painting'

Mares and Foals has only appeared at auction once before: in 1976 (when it sold for £170,000) and has since been part of a private collection in Illinois.

John Stainton, Christie's International deputy chairman of Old Master paintings, said: “George Stubbs’ genius for animal painting is nowhere more evident than in his series of Mares and Foals paintings.”

The picture will be on public view at Christie's New York from May 18-22 and then in London from June 28-July 2 ahead of the auction.