A Zebra by George Stubbs



Title

A Zebra

Artist

George Stubbs

Ref GC292
Type Fine Art Print
Image Size
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Description  
This zebra, the second seen in England, was presented to Queen Charlotte, wife of King George III in 1762. Brought from the Cape of Good Hope by Sir Thomas Adams, as a belated wedding present, it was placed on free public view in the Royal Menagerie. This beautiful portrayal of a female zebra speaks eloquently to the tension inherent in Stubbs depiction of animals as the objective creations of a dispassionate empiricist bent on the acquisition of knowledge. Posing, quietly in profile, she looks uncomfortably out of place, with her black and white striped coat exposing her starkly against the dark English wood, with her quizzical and forlorn expression disturbingly affecting. Stubbs portrayal is one of the subtlest and most poignant commentaries on the troubling displacements that were accruing at that time from the development of a global empire. George III ("Farmer George") and the Queen were an uxorious and, worst of all, unglamorous couple, and the ownership of the "African Ass" aroused much robust satire for several decades after the zebra's death in 1772. The zebra ended up as a travelling stuffed exhibit but this portrait never left Stubbs studio during his lifetime.