This magnificent image of animal terror, set in a dramatic and forbidding rocky landscape, was one of Stubbs’s favourite subjects. It seized the imagination of his contemporaries and this and other versions of the theme became popular as prints. Nothing similar had previously appeared in British art yet it exploited a growing taste in the 1760s for the Sublime: subjects which created a sense of oppression and terror and which were experienced purely as emotion, not rationalised. Stubbs’s source for the subject was a well-known antique sculpture, which he had probably noted on a trip to Rome in 1754.


  • Title: Horse Frightened by a Lion
  • Creator: George Stubbs
  • Date Created: 1770
  • tag / style: George Stubbs; Sublime; terror; horse; lion; rocks; water; rearing horse; white horse; mane; landscape; frightened
  • Physical Dimensions: w1261 x h1001 cm (Without frame)
  • Artist biographical information: George Stubbs is possibly the most famous artist to have been born in Liverpool. He is also usually considered to have been one of the greatest of all British animal painters. Information about his early training is uncertain. It is thought that he initially learned to paint under the supervision of the Liverpool landscape artist, Hamlet Winstanley (1698-1756). Stubbs may also have taught himself to paint. Throughout his life Stubbs displayed an inquisitive scientific temperament. He was particularly interested in the anatomical construction of animals, birds and humans. He did dissections to further his knowledge. He also tried out new surfaces upon which to do his painting. His illustrated book 'The Anatomy of the Horse', published in 1766, gained him a Europe-wide reputation. To learn more about George Stubbs and his artworks in the collections of National Museums Liverpool, please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/online/featuredartists/stubbs/ George Stubbs was the subject of an exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery in 2006. To learn more about the exhibition, please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/exhibitions/stubbs/
  • Additional artwork information: For this painting Stubbs experimented with startling a real horse. His friend Ozias Humphrey recalled that Stubbs borrowed one of the King’s horses and produced the expression of terror in the animal by pushing a brush on the ground towards it. To take a closer look at this painting and the story behind it, and to learn more about George Stubbs, please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/collections/18c/stubbs-lion.aspx
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Purchased in 1910

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps