George Stubbs and the use of wax
August 8 2016
The 18th Century animal painter George Stubbs is one of the most fiendishly difficult artists to deal with when it comes to conservation. He often used to mix wax in with his paints, which makes his paintings particularly vulnerable to the sort of solvents restorers usually use. Consequently, many Stubbs pictures are in bad condition. I once heard of a Stubbs that had been accidentally left in front of a sunny window in a New York auction house - parts of it literally melted. When I'm asked about cleaning works by Stubbs my advice is usually to leave things as they are.
Happily, the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich (owner of Stubbs' Dingo, above) is doing its bit to publicise Stubbs' use of wax at a day long symposium on 14th October. More details here.
Update - a reader writes:
Surely that "Dingo" is a Falklands Wolf, painted by Stubbs in 1772 from a preserved body brought back by Banks when the Endeavor completed its round-the-world trip in 1771.
Perhaps Australia should feel only half bad that they didn't get the paintings after all.