Otho was a bay colt bred and first owned by the Hon. Richard Vernon, a founder-member of the Jockey Club. Otho had proved only moderately successful on the race-track until 1767, the last year of his racing career, when he had several victories. This portrait with a mounted jockey, beside one of the rubbing-down houses at Newmarket, was presumably commissioned to celebrate these achievements. The subtle atmospheric effects evoke the tension of racing, as the storm-clouds hint that the sunlight in which the horse and rider stand may be fitful.
Otho, with John Larkin up
101.3 x 127 cm
Oil on canvas
Date of work
Original: Oil on canvas, 101.3 x 127 cm ® Tate, London
George Stubbs was an English painter, draughtsman and printmaker. His study of anatomy enabled him to paint animals with unsurpassed truth to nature, while his innate sense of design led to graceful, rhythmic compositions. His contemporary reputation was chiefly based on portraits of horses and dogs, but he also painted human portraits, conversation pieces and imaginative subjects with animals. He later experimented with enamel painting and perfected a beautiful mixed-method printmaking technique.