STUBBS, George (1724-1806). The Anatomy of the Horse. London: J. Purser for the author, '1766' [but c.1798].
Oblong broadsheets (448 x 567mm). 24 etched plates, including 4 key plates, by and after Stubbs [13 watermarked 1798]. (Title leaf and leaf 'a' slightly soiled and frayed, with clean tears, that on title neatly repaired on verso, some light browning or offsetting, creasing and marking.) Early 19th-century half calf by Neil, Glasgow, with their ticket, gilt morocco lettering-piece on spine (extremities rubbed and scuffed, joints cracked). Provenance: Faculty of Physicians and Surgeons, Glasgow, 1801 (neat inscription on title and bookplate).
FIRST EDITION, LATER ISSUE. A WORK THAT 'HAS BOTH SCIENTIFIC AND ARTISTIC IMPORTANCE, and ... enjoys, with the works of Vesalius and Albinus, an esteem far beyond the special area of learning for which it was designed' (Doherty, quoted by Norman). Stubbs's drawings for the plates were executed between 1756 and 1759, and were based on numerous dissections that he had performed himself. Once the drawings were finished, Stubbs unsuccessfully attempted to find an engraver, but many felt the detailed drawings fell beyond their abilities, thus forcing Stubbs to engrave them himself in the following 6 years and effecting his transformation from an engraver of limited ability to one of great skill. When the work was published, it caused the artist 'henceforth to be regarded primarily as an animal painter, whereas his previous provincial reputation had been based on portraits' (Lennox-Boyd). The work itself 'remained the standard authority on its subject for nearly a century. It marked a major advance in the study of equine anatomy, and Gilbey ... maintained that ''if he [Stubbs] had never painted a picture, [this] stands as his monument''' (Lennox-Boyd).
The text used for the various issues of The Anatomy was probably printed at the time of the original publication, but the plates appear to have been printed on demand as copies were sold, and plates watermarked with dates from 1798 to 1827 are known. Those in this copy are watermarked 1798 and are printed on wove (rather than laid) paper. Brunet V, col.571; Dingley Comben 600 (later issue, plates watermarked 1823); Eales Cole ... 1472-1800 1840; ESTC T147211; Garrison and Morton 308.1; Lennox-Boyd Stubbs 165-188; Mellon Books on the Horse and Horsemanship 57; Nissen ZBI 4027; Norman 2032 (later issue, plates watermarked '1798').