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This is Stubbs’s earliest known attempt at painting in enamel colours. It was the first time the technique – previously limited to decorative objects – had been used by an artist of Stubbs's stature.

His experiment with a new medium may have been an effort to enhance or preserve the vibrancy of his colours. He experimented for several years with the chemical changes of colours under high temperatures, as well as improving the support upon which the painting was made. Although a copper plate was used for this octagonal composition, he later commissioned large ceramic tablets from Josiah Wedgwood.

September 2004