George Stubbs (1724-1806)
Oil on panel, 1783
Horse and Dog Trim was painted by George Stubbs, one of the greatest 18th century artists. Stubbs’ speciality was portraits of the horses and dogs of the wealthy. The work was commissioned by Mr. G. W. Ricketts, to commemorate an event that occurred on one of his Jamaican plantations, as related on the metal plate on the frame: ‘The property of G. W. Ricketts whose life was saved by the dog.’
Trim was originally a stray living on one of the Jamaican estates. One night, his barking alerted the sleeping estate owner that an enslaved worker had crept into his bedroom with a dagger. Trim was brought to England to live at the family’s house near Winchester, and Stubbs was commissioned to paint him together with one of his owner’s favourite horses.
There are many accounts of enslaved men and women killing, or attempting to kill, their owners as an act of resistance. That is the ‘hidden history’ of the painting of Dog Trim.
The Ricketts family has made a long-term loan of the painting to Bristol Museum & Art Gallery, in acknowledgement of their slave-owning past.
© Bristol Museums, Galleries & Archives. Lent by A Private Collection