The record of the most expensive painting by a British artist is held securely by The Massacre of the Innocents by one of the Old Masters, Sir Peter Paul Rubens. The famous painting had last changed hands in 2002 for a whooping £50 million. But there are other paintings that are creating personal records for other artists and inching their way up to reach the half way mark. A painting by George Stubbs recently found a buyer for £22.4 million, which is a record for paintings by the artist who had the reputation of being one of the finest-ever painter of horses.
The painting in question is a 1765 picture Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath, with a Trainer, a Stable-Lad, and a Jockey. Gimcrack was a race horse from the 18th century. It was perhaps the most famous stallion of its time as it finished 28 of the 36 races victorious. Gimcrack’s owner, Lord Bolingbroke commissioned Stubbs to paint the horse and took him to Newmarket to study the animal. Stubbs has depicted the fine stallion twice on the same canvas. Gimcrack is seen running well ahead of his rivals in the background to win a trial race.
Out of the five paintings Stubbs made of the famous horse, this particular piece is considered a masterpiece. The painting was bought by an unnamed bidder. The painting had last changed hands in 1951 when it was purchased for a reasonable £12,600. It surely has gained in value over the last 60 years. The auction by Christie’s also saw a record for Thomas Gainsborough, whose Portrait of Miss Read, Later Mrs William Villebois sold for £6.5m, nearly twice the previous record.