About the original Stubbs painting of Shark upon which this print was based, Lennox-Boyd writes:
The painting…shows Shark with his trainer, Price, and is dated 1775. […] Racing only at Newmarket, Shark’s total winnings were calculated to amount to…a profit from racing of 12,187 guineas…more money than any horse had ever won before (Lennox-Boyd, 53).
George Stubbs’ original painting of Eclipse was made for the horse’s owner, Denes O’Kelly. According to Lennox-Boyd:
This setting is perhaps intended to convey an episode during preparation for Eclipse’s closest race, against Mr Wentworth’s Bucephalus, which was the last race in which Eclipse was ridden for Wildman before O’Kelly bought him outright. According to Stubbs’s Review of the Turf proposals, the jockey portrayed is ‘Samuel Merrit, who generally rode him.’ Whyte, however, maintains that ‘Fitzpatrick and Oakley rode him in almost all his races.’ (Lennox-Boyd, 130)
George Stubbs (1724-1806) was one of the greatest sporting artists of Georgian England. He combined science and art by painting animals with anatomical precision. After a visit to Rome and a period of residence in Liverpool, he returned to England in 1760. He also drew horses based on dissections, and in 1766 published a monumental series of engravings, Anatomy of the Horse, which cemented his reputation as a master of the subject. His vast body of work includes paintings of the prize horses of England of the late 18th century, often with their proud owners or trainers. He also painted hunting scenes, and wild animals such as lions and tigers, including some with lions stalking horses. Stubbs served as president of the Society of Artists in 1773 and though he had his quarrels with the Royal Academy, he exhibited there periodically and was elected as an Associate in 1780. Many of his paintings are in the world’s major museums, with a large number represented in the Yale Center for British Art (Paul Mellon Collection). Some of the greatest engravers and printers of the day were engaged to render Stubbs’ animal pictures as prints, including William Woollett (1735-1785), and Stubbs’ son, the printmaker George Townly Stubbs (1756-1815) (sometimes spelled “Townley”).
Edward Orme (b. 1774) was a London artist and printseller, serving as printseller in ordinary and engraver to King George III from 1799 to 1820, and to the Prince of Wales (later King George IV) from 1817 to 1830. He exhibited at the Royal Academy between 1801 and 1803.
Inscription below Eclipse: “Eclipse. George Stubbs pinx’t. Geo. Townly Stubbs sculp’t. Engraver to his R.H. the Prince of Wales. London, Republished June 4th 1817, by Edw’d Orme, Bond Street.”
Inscription below Sharke: “Sharke. George Stubbs pinx’t. Geo. Townly Stubbs sculp’t. Engraver to his R.H. the Prince of Wales. London, Republished June 4th 1817, by Edw’d Orme, Bond Street.”
Egerton, Judy. George Stubbs, Painter: Catalogue Raisonné. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007. Items 264 and 275. Online at Google Books: http://books.google.com/books?id=mFrO5o2X2EcC (4 October 2013).
Lennox-Boyd, Christopher, et al. George Stubbs: The Complete Engraved Works. London: Stipple Publishing Limited, 1989. Items 32, 53, 111, and 125.
Maxted, Ian. “The London book trades 1775-1800: a preliminary checklist of members.” Exeter Working Papers in British Book Trade History. U.K.: Devon Library and Information Services. 19 August 2012. https://bookhistory.blogspot.com/2007/01/london-1775-1800-n-o.html (Orme) (24 February 2021).
Williamson, George C., ed. Bryan’s Dictionary of Painters and Engravers. London: G. Bell and Sons: 1930. Vol. 5, pp. 139-140 (Stubbs).