Sunday, 9 March 2014

My Favourite Painting

Whistlejacket - George Stubbs 1762

Having recently looked at and been very impressed with the work of Lisa Frodo Miller it is worth me re-stating my view of horses in paintings. I have a bit of a background with horses.

In the 1970's I was seconded to the Birmingham City Mounted Police in Birmingham in Duke Street.  This entailed cleaning out the stalls!, cleaning the leatherwork and chains until they were like a mirror, and excercising horses in the yard. Now I should mention at this point I had no interest in horses, I did not volunteer but being a young PC I had no choice in the matter. Excercising the horses involved throwing a blanket over them putting on a bridle, then riding them around the yard. No mean feat as it was also the main garage and traffic department. Getting on the horse was hard enough but staying on with no saddle was also a slight problem particularly with vehicles coming in and out all the time.

On one memorable occasion I heard screams coming from the stables and ran in to find a lady clerk had entered a stall to feed a large police horse an apple. The horse had gone as they say, "clean off", bucking and kicking out. Having little choice I went in and retrieved the lady without her coming to any harm. Unfortunately I was kicked with both rear horshoes on my upper legs! I was absolutely delighted both with the horse and the clerk. I was not badly injured but was in a lot of pain for several days and my legs changed colour wonderfully. For me this was the icing on the cake. I had nothing more to do with horses until the children were growing up.

Out of some misguided idea I decided to take the three of them pony trecking. I turned up at the stables having booked their session. The lady kindly found three little ponies for them and then said in front of everyone,

 "And I have this for you", bringing out some large fire breathing monster.
 I said, "No it's fine I wasn't going, I have just brought the children."

I was then subjected to mental blackmail and chicken sounds. I eventually relented and got on board. All went fine until some clever kid decided to gallop off. My horse decided to follow. I was hanging on for dear life pulling shouting and occasionally swearing for this equine devil to stop. It did but only when the young tearaway had had enough and brought their little pony to halt. Of course my children thought it was hilarious.
Needless to say I never took them trecking again.

The point of all this is my favourite painting is strangely enough,"Whistlejacket" I fell in love with the painting the first time I saw it in the National Gallery. Despite being a "horse"( I am sure you may understand why I say that now)  it is the most wonderful piece of work I had ever seen and it still is to this day. Stubbs knew his subject and it shows. Do I ever paint horses? Only occasionally as part of a landscape. Anyway have a look at Lisa's beautiful work on the link below.

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