Indian rhinoceros, by George Stubbs, c.1792
About the painting
Indian rhinoceros by George Stubbs, c.1792
This painting was owned by John Hunter, who was friends with George Stubbs. They shared a passion for anatomy; the close study of nature was fundamental to Stubbs’ work. He spent months painstakingly dissecting and drawing the bodies of horses at a Lincolnshire farmhouse. This work led to the publication of his celebrated book, The Anatomy of the Horse. Although best-known for his horse portraits, Stubbs also painted exotic animals brought to Britain.
The rhinoceros pictured is one which arrived in England in June 1790. It was sold to Thomas Clark, a menagerie-keeper who exhibited it in London. It was probably about this time that Stubbs made his painting. In February 1793 Clark sold the rhino to another menagerie-keeper, Gilbert Pidcock. It was an astute move by Clark, since the animal died a few months later. Undeterred, Pidcock exhibited the stuffed skin for several years.
This painting is on display in Room 6 of the Hunterian Museum.