Skip to main content
Key facts
Full title Whistlejacket
Artist George Stubbs
Artist dates 1724 - 1806
Date made about 1762
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 296.1 × 248 cm
Acquisition credit Bought with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, 1997
Inventory number NG6569
Location Room 31
Art route(s) B
Collection Main Collection
George Stubbs

One of the most important British paintings of the eighteenth century, Whistlejacket is probably the most well-known portrait of a horse. It is also widely acknowledged to be George Stubb’s masterpiece. The Arabian chestnut stallion had won a famous victory at York in 1759, but by 1762 had been retired from racing. He belonged to the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham, who commissioned Stubbs to paint a commemorative life-size portrait of his prize horse on a scale that was more appropriate for a group portrait or historical painting.

Stubbs excludes any reference to a rider, riding equipment or location, painting the magnificent rearing horse against a neutral background of pale gold. Despite suggestions that a rider was originally planned, Whistlejacket was always meant to be unmounted. Free from human control, the riderless horse is the embodiment of unrestrained natural energy, a free spirit that prefigures Romanticism’s celebration of nature.

Download image
Download low-resolution image

Download a low-resolution copy of this image for personal use.

License this image

License and download a high-resolution image for reproductions up to A3 size from the National Gallery Picture Library.

License image
Download low-resolution image

This image is licensed for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons agreement.

Examples of non-commercial use are:

  • Research, private study, or for internal circulation within an educational organisation (such as a school, college or university)
  • Non-profit publications, personal websites, blogs, and social media

The image file is 800 pixels on the longest side.

As a charity, we depend upon the generosity of individuals to ensure the collection continues to engage and inspire. Help keep us free by making a donation today.

Download low-resolution image

You must agree to the Creative Commons terms and conditions to download this image.

Creative Commons Logo