George Stubbs (1724-1806) is perhaps most renowned now for his strikingly lifelike and accurate portraits of horses. He was, in fact, one of the first artists to understand 'how a horse was put together', and it was his detailed scientific knowledge which enabled him to create artistic masterpieces.
His deep knowledge of the anatomy of the horse arose from his own scientific dissections and investigations. Reputed to be a man of considerable strength, he inhabited for some 18 months a barn in which he dissected and drew dead horses. Since the process was a slow and painstaking one, we have to admire Stubbs's absolute dedication to a task that would have turned the stomach of most people.
In 1766, however, after failing to find a publisher and years of etching his own plates, all his labour and hardship culminated in the publication of the magnificent album "The anatomy of the horse", which presented for the first time detailed and accurate depictions of the anatomy of the horse. Remarkably, it is a monumental work of both science and art, and it made Stubbs's reputation, then and for all time. Today, it is honoured both for its artistic qualities and as a landmark in the study of equine anatomy. For more information see The Royal Collection Trust's website and Wikipedia
This work was originally published in 1766, and was reissued with the plates printed on wove paper, watermarked 1815/1. Massey University Library's copy is of this 1815 reissue.