The Anatomy Of The Horse. Including A Particular Description of the Bones, Cartilages, Muscles, Fascias, Ligaments, Nerves, Arteries, Veins, and Glands. In Eighteen Tables, all done from Nature. By George Stubbs, Painter.
London, Printed by J. Purser, for the Author. 1766.
Large oblong folio, half-calf gilt, rebacked, Spanish hand-made marbled boards c.1804, marbled endpapers, within modern box; title + (i)+ pp.47; 24 etched plates, each c.375 x 480mm. Binding generally scuffed and rubbed (unrestored), spine rebound. Spots of residue from expertly removed mould visible in upper margin of several plates. This residue particularly prominent in Tabs. IX and XI, encroaching into plate Tabs. XIII and XIV. Vertical 'scuff' line from upper edge of paper c. 5cm into plate centre left Tab. XII. Diagonal crease though top edge of upper right corner of sheet Tab. XIV, well outside plate. Lower right corner and lower left corner extremities missing Tabs. I and key respectively ('skeleton').
Complete volume of this masterpiece of equine anatomical exploration by George Stubbs [1724 - 1806]. It takes the form of what are effectively two sets of etchings combined. The first part, of four plates, deals exclusively with the skeletal structure of the horse and comprises three finished etchings labelled Tabs. I, II and III, and one key plate corresponding to Tab I. The second part explores the muscles, fascias, ligaments, nerves, veins, glands and cartilages. This consists of 15 etchings, Tabs. I - XV, nos. I - V each with corresponding separate key plates. This volume is compiled from two separate first editions. The binding and letterpress sheets, along with four plates, come from a copy ex-Royal Veterinary College. The plates as follows; Tabs I (Lennox-Boyd 169), III (173), IV (175) and the final plate XV (188). The remainder of the plates come from a private collection in the West Country. These etchings are fine impressions on contemporary laid paper, on which only the earliest copies were printed. They represent gloriously precise, detailed and accurate anatomical observations which set the standard in veterinary science for a century. They certainly possess a 'fine exactness and austere beauty' that 'give them a timeless beauty' (Ray). Stubbs says in his introduction 'To The Reader': 'all the figures in it are drawn from nature, for which purpose I dissected a great number of horses'. 42 original sketches from Stubbs's dissections between 1756 and 1759 while he was at Horkstow in Lincolnshire survive in the library of the Royal Academy. These form the basis of this great work, an undertaking too demanding it seems for some of the premier engravers of the time, such as Charles Grignion, who declined Stubbs's approaches. The task took up the following six years, all the while the artist refining his rather rudimentary engraving technique. The impact of the publication of the work was immediate and considerable, not only in scientific terms, but in an age of Enlightenment when the aesthetic ideal was closely connected with observation of the natural world, the artistic community derived great benefit also. Freshly appreciated and re-discovered in the 20th century, George Stubbs is now widely considered to be the pre-eminent animal painter of the 18th century. Throughout his life Stubbs displayed an inquisitive scientific temperament, and he had a life-long interest in deconstructing anatomy, one of his earliest works including a set of illustrations for a textbook on midwifery which was published in 1751.
Lennox-Boyd: 166 - 188.
[Ref: 5777] £13,000.00