A Black and White Spaniel Following a Scent (Primary Title)
Black and White Spaniel Following a Scent (Former Title)

George Stubbs, English, 1724 - 1806 (Artist)

oil on canvas
Unframed: 25 × 30 in. (63.5 × 76.2 cm)
Framed: 31 1/4 × 36 1/4 in. (79.38 × 92.08 cm)


The Paul Mellon Collection of sporting art is particularly rich in European hunting scenes dating from the early 18th century until the beginning of the 20th century. Since the Middle Ages, hunting was one of the principal activities by which Europe’s elite classes, and especially the aristocracy, defined their social standing. Hunting on horseback was an assertion both of a landowner’s authority over the land itself as well as his dominance over its human and animal inhabitants. Hunting for sport also served as a form of physical exercise that was considered respectable for gentlemen during times of peace.


Over the course of several generations, sporting artists devised an elaborate visual vocabulary of aristocratic hunting culture. Often, painters commissioned by country squires to make such representations found inspiration in the traditions of battle scenes and equestrian military portraits. The treatment of these sporting subjects varied significantly and included group portraits, portraits of individual riders and their steeds, dynamic compositions representing the chase, and series of complementary paintings illustrating subsequent episodes from a hunting expedition. These works decorated the country estates of their patrons, and each one was intended as a unique celebration of the hunter’s aspiration to possess and control the natural world.

Signed, lower right: Geo:Stubbs pinxit / 1793
Paul Mellon Collection
2018: "Country Life: Masterpieces from the Mellon Collection of MVFA", Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, Paris, France, September 4 - December 2, 2018

2018-2019: "A Sporting Vision: The Paul Mellon Collection of British Sporting Art from the VMFA", National Sporting Museum & Library, Middleburg, VA, April 13 - July 22, 2018; Frist Art Museum, Nashville, TN, February 2 - May 5, 2019; Frick Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA, June 15 - September 8, 2019
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

Some object records are not complete and do not reflect VMFA's full and current knowledge. VMFA makes routine updates as records are reviewed and enhanced.