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George Stubbs, A Gentleman driving a Lady in a Phaeton

Key facts
Full title A Gentleman driving a Lady in a Phaeton
Artist George Stubbs
Artist dates 1724 - 1806
Date made 1787
Medium and support Oil on oak
Dimensions 82.5 × 101.6 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Bequeathed by Miss H.S. Hope, 1920
Inventory number NG3529
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
A Gentleman driving a Lady in a Phaeton
George Stubbs

A gentleman and a lady sit in an open carriage. Their identities are unknown, and it is unclear if they are married. This type of high-built, four-wheel carriage was typically driven by its gentleman-driver owner, rather than by a coachman. It was known as a ‘phaeton’ after the son of the Greek god Helios, who attempted to ride the chariot of the sun and almost set the earth on fire. With a minimal, lightly sprung body mounted on large wheels, the phaeton was particularly used for recreational driving and racing.

Stubbs gives as much attention to the phaeton and its construction as he does to its two occupants or the pair of horses pulling it. Placing the carriage against dark foliage allows him to show the undercarriage mechanism in meticulous detail.

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