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Monthly Archives: juni 2013

Morel Favorito, portrait of a winner

by Mantovano Rinaldo or Giulio Romano



Fresco in the Sala dei Cavalli, Palazzo del Tè, Mantua, Italy

The Palazzo del Tè was built by the Gonzaga family and one hall of this palace was and still is decorated with portraits of horses which were bred by the family in their stud nearby. The present horse Morel Favorito (morel means black-brown) must have been a successful race horse. The pride of the Gonzaga family was to participate in the palio races which were held in many Italian cities, and of course to win them. The family bred horses specifically for these palio races and the portraits in the Sala dei Cavalli were made to honor the most successful winners. Palio races are still held in Siena, but the type of horse has completely changed since then. Morel Favorito and the other horses in the Sala dei Cavalli have a completely different built compared with the thoroughbred of our time.  Andrea Tonni wrote a most interesting chapter about the horses of the Gonzagas entitled The Renaissance studs of the Gonzagas of Mantua, in: P. Edwards, K.A.E. Enenkel & E. Graham, The Horse as a Cultural Icon. Brill, Leiden/Boston 2012. ISBN 978 90 04 21206 0.


Helen and Maria riding in Valencian costume

by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida



1900-1923, Oil on canvas, Museo de Arte Moderno, Barcelona

This is the typical Spanish way for a young man to take his girl on the horse to a festive occasion. The girl sits on a pillion behind the saddle. The pillion has been fixed on a decorated rug that continues under the saddle and runs across the breast of the horse. The girl Helena secures her position by holding the shoulder of the young man with the name Maria. When they go trotting she will have to hold him even firmer. The bridle has been decorated in the same style as the rug. Tufts and tassels have been attached to the rug and the bridle. The horse belongs to the Andalusian breed, which is very suitable for shows and demonstrations in crowds of people.