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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.

George Stubbs ARA

RA Collection: Book

Record number




London:: Printed by J. Purser, for the Author., 1766.

Physical Description

[4], 47, [1] p., III [i.e. 4], XV [i.e. 20] pl.; 484×600 mm. (Oblong broadsheet).

General Note

In the first sequence of plates (I-III) there is a bis Plate I (in some copies the first plate is not numbered). In the second sequence of plates (I-XV) there are bis Plates I-V.


[T.p.] - To The Reader - [Text, with pl.]. - (ESTC describes copies containing an errata slip.)

Responsibility Note

No plate is signed.


C. Lennox-Boyd & al., George Stubbs: the complete engraved works (1989); J.B. Podeschi, Sport In Art And Books The Paul Mellon Collection Books On The Horse And Horsemanship ... 1400 - 1941 A Catalogue (1981), no. 57, p.65-68; M. Warner and R. Blake, Stubbs and the horse [exhibition catalogue] (2004).
ESTC, T147211

Summary Note

As early as 1756 Stubbs had begun making the extraordinarily painstaking drawings that would form the basis of his etchings for this, his most celebrated work. Forty-four of these drawings are known to have survived, all but two of which are held in the RA Collection. The unprecedented accuracy and detail of Stubbs's plates made an important and lasting contribution to veterinary science and won him an international reputation as an anatomist. He made a point however of designating himself a 'Painter' on the titlepage, in order to stress that his initial intention in publishing this pioneering work was to assist fellow artists in achieving a greater verisimilitude in the depiction of 'this beautiful and useful animal'. Thus in his 'Address To The Reader' he writes that, 'When I first resolved to apply myself to the present work, I was flattered with the idea that it might prove particularly useful to those of my own profession, and those to whose care and skill the horse is usually entrusted whenever medicine or surgery becomes necessary ... But what I should principally observe ... is that all the figures in it are drawn from nature, for which purpose I dissected a great number of horses ...'. As he so succinctly stated in a letter of 1771 to the Dutch anatomist P. Camper, 'What you have seen is all I meant to do, it being as much as I thought necessary for the study of painting'.

The plates are presented in two groups, numbered I-III and I-XV. There are bis plates of no. I in the first series and of nos. I-V in the second: these show skeletons carrying numbers by which they are keyed to the text.

Stubbs exhibited with the Royal Academy from 1775 to 1783; but his election as a full Member in 1781 was annulled when he refused to submit a diploma picture.


[First copy:] On 31 December 1791 Council resolved 'that Mr Stubbs's Anatomy be purchased to place in the Library ...' (RA Council Minutes, II, 150), and £5 5s. was paid to Stubbs for this copy on 25 March 1792 (see 'RA Cashbook 1769-1795', 25 Mar. 1792); it was stolen from the Library in June 1980.

[Second copy:] This copy was presented by Mrs Maurice Lambert in . Before the title page an extra leaf has been bound in, printed with the 'Ex Libris' of Maurice Lambert, R.A. It had been presented to him by the students of the RA Schools to mark his retirement as Professor of Sculpture in .

[Third copy:] This copy was presented by the executors of Dame Laura Knight's estate in 1958.

Copy Note

[Second copy:] Imperfect: lacks the errata slip. In this copy the verso of the front loose endpaper is stamped with the name of the bookseller, 'Hatchards 187 Piccadilly'.

[Third copy:] All twenty-four plates are present. But instead of being bound in in the order of the two numbered series (which we may call 'A' and 'B'), i.e. AI, AI bis, AII, AIII, then BI-V with BI-V bis and BVI-XV, they have been bound in in the following order: BXV (number missing because of cutting and pasting-in), AI (unnumbered), AI bis, BI, BI bis, BIII, BIII bis, AIII, AII, BII, BII bis, BIV, BIV bis, BV bis, BV, BVII (number missing because of cutting and pasting-in), BVI, BVIII-XIV.

Binding Note

[Second copy:] 20th-century green half morocco, green cloth-covered boards; spine lettered 'Anatomy Of The Horse Stubbs'.

[Third copy:] 19th-century half red ribbed morocco, black grained-cloth-covered boards, upper cover lettered 'Stubb's Anatomy Of The Horse'.


Horses - Anatomy - Anatomy, Artistic - Animals
Manuals - Great Britain - 18th century
Pictorial works - Great Britain - 18th century


John Purser, printer
Maurice Lambert RA, 1901-1964, previous owner
Mrs. Olga Marie Lambert, previous owner, donor
George Stubbs ARA, draughtsman, etcher, publisher
Hatchard and Son (London), bookseller, previous owner