George Stubbs, A Couple of Foxhounds, 1792
From the Tate Gallery:
A Couple of Foxhounds was probably commissioned by the Reverend Thomas Vyner of north Lincolnshire. Stubbs was known to have worked for the Vyner family on his return to Lincolnshire in 1776 and again in 1792. Vyner was an avid sportsman and equestrian, and an expert on breeding hounds. He was a close friend of Charles Anderson-Pelham, later 1st Baron Yarborough, and the two often hunted together at Brocklesby, the Pelham estate. Stubbs painted Ringwood(collection Earl of Yarborough), a portrait of the leading hound in the Brocklesby pack, the same year he made this picture, and the hounds depicted in this work are probably of the same breeding.
It was Stubbs’s practice to paint the foreground animals first, and the background and sky later, painting up to and often over the outline of the figures. His increasingly sophisticated style is apparent if one compares this picture to his earlier depictions of hounds, such as the 1762 Foxhounds in a Landscape (collection Lady Juliet de Chair), in which he posed five dogs in a frieze-like arrangement. Whereas the dogs in the 1762 portrait, equally well-painted, are formally posed, this pair are engaged in almost human interaction.