OIL PAINTING: William Anderson with Two Saddled Horses, 1793
William Anderson with two Saddle-horses is a painting of outstanding quality. The composition is deceptively simple with the overlapping flanks of the two horses, silhouetted against the sky, fused in a memorable pattern. The emphasis throughout is on the horizontal and the only firm vertical is Anderson himself, rigid in the saddle of the leading horse. The languorous rhythm of the horses in the foreground of the picture is offset by the large expanse of sky, which takes up as much as three-quarters of the canvas, and by the flat rolling landscape contained within the remaining quarter. Stubbs achieves a moving, almost poetic, balance within the picture which should not be seen simply as an exercise in design. The artist uses his knowledge of anatomy in the depiction of the horses and there is a surprising variety of observation in the treatment of the clouds, the glimpse of the sea on the left, the copse and the burdock plants in the right foreground. The sea suggests that Anderson is shown riding near Brighton, a resort which the Prince of Wales first visited in 1783 and where he leased property in 1780 that was by degrees enlarged, originally by Henry Holland and then John Nash, to become the Royal Pavilion. The town became highly fashionable and had the added advantage of having a racecourse. In 1807-8 a stable block was added to the Pavilion with room for fifty-four horses. Domestic accounts record that Anderson was billetted in Brighton for twelve days in 1793 in addition to his work at Windsor. The second horse in the painting has presumably been saddled for the Prince of Wales.