Notice: Undefined index: wp_db_temp_dir in /data/www/ on line 112 Warning: session_start() expects parameter 1 to be array, string given in /data/www/ on line 286 The Horse in Art - Pagina 2 van 10 - The Role of the Horse in Art and History

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Winter in War-Time Vienna at the Opernplatz

by Franz Witt, 1917-1918

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watercolor, 37 x 57 cm, signed lower right, annotated and dated lower left, Dorotheum, sale 2 December 1999

This winter scene shows the heavy traffic on the Opernplatz in Vienna during the Great War. We see all kinds of horse-drawn carriages and commercial vehicles.  In the middle a timber bob drawn by two horses with blankets, while the driver sits on the pole, which is destined to transport heavy logs to a sawmill, now without load. Behind this vehicle a sleigh, drawn by a team of two bays, with a coachman and a couple as passengers. On the right a wagon with high boards loaded with something like coal. On the left a cab (Einspänner) with two soldiers and a dog as passengers. A team of two grey horses is visible on the background, probably Lipizzaners. An electric tramway runs along the Opera building. Horses not only occupy the street, but two sculpted horses also dominate the front of the impressive Opera building. On top of the loggia stand two winged horses ridden by the Muses Harmony and Erato, symbols for the arts performed in the building and sculpted by Ernst Julius Hähnel (1876). In this work we see a beautiful combination of the practical value of the horse for transport and the inspirational value of the horse for the arts, even in this war-time city.



The entry of Emperor Franz Joseph I to Cracow

by Juliusz Kossak, 1881

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Watercolor on paper, 390 x 570 mm, signed and dated lower right, Muzeum Narodowe, Krakow, inv. cat, nr. III-r.a. 12.774

This painting shows several pecularities. In contrast to the title, the emphasis is not on the carriage of the Emperor but on the carriage of the City President Mikolaj Zyblikiewicz. The artist has placed his carriage in the centre of the painting. Moreover his landau carriage is drawn by a team of four horses, while the more simple victoria carriage of the Emperor is drawn by a team of only two. The blue and white colors of the harness, the uniforms and the carriage are those of the city of Krakow. The four grey horses are much more conspicuous than the two bay ones which draw the Emperor’s carriage. Also the harness of his horses is regular compared with the gala harness of the grey horses. Zyblikiewicz rides with two grooms on the box seat and a rider on the left hind horse to drive the team. Franz Joseph’s horses are driven by a coachman accompanied by an adjutant on the box seat. The green and yellow Habsburg colors are visible only in the uniform of Franz Joseph and his companion, but not in the harness of his horses. Altogether it seems the City President has chosen for a state escort while the Emperor appeared in a more modest style. Miscommunication or deliberate action ?

Equestrian portrait of the young Louis XIV

by Justus van Egmont, c.1643

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oil painting on panel, 41 x 30 cm, not signed, Musée Condé, Chantilly

Louis, who in 1643 had become King of France, is portrayed as a hunter with his falcon sitting on his left hand. At that time he was 5 or 6 years old but he was already represented as a professional falcon hunter. That image belonged to his royal status. He rides a piebald (or skewbald) horse that seems perfectly trained for the young Louis to concentrate on his hunting sport. Even with a long rein on the curb bit the horse keeps its neck arched. The harness and trappings are heavily decorated. The red breast-band and crupper are provided with tassels and stones. The same tassels have been fixed to the bridle. Even the richly processed reins are decorated with tassels and loops. The saddle and saddle cloth are in the same style. The high plume on the horse’s head corresponds with the plume on Louis’s hat. The striking colors of the horse go well with the colors of the harness and the dress of the rider. We may think that decorating the horse’s harness is an exclusive royal luxury, but this human tendency has always existed in all layers of the population as far as the means would allow. In our present time we see children and adults who decorate their horses with pink brow-bands provided with stones combined with pink bandages and hold a pink whip.




Two knights in a joust

by Eric Claus, 1964

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bronze, c. 160 cm high, Grote Markt (Lepelstraat), Haarlem

This sculpture was placed on the location where in the Middle Ages the tournaments were held in Haarlem. At that time the location was called ’t Sant. A tournament was an event where a number of different games and festivities took place, sometimes a week long. The fight between two individual knights with long lances was one of the games, called ‘joust’. The participants were bound to rules and chivalry was supposed to be exercised. Only men with the status of a knight could participate and victory in a joust greatly enhanced the status of a knight. The sculptor Eric Claus is fascinated by the fighting knight and he made not only this work in Haarlem but also several others: in Gouda (courtyard of Museum Gouda, 1965), Hilversum (Vaartweg 163, 1968), Muiden (Muiderslot 1984) and Heino (Kasteel Het Nijenhuis, 1980). In all these sculptures the dynamics of speed, power and balance are expressed. This is true for the riders but even more for the horses. The artist once remarked that over time he made the lances steadily shorter as a remedy to aggression. These sculptures also are an indication that in modern art the horse has not lost its important position.

Amazones, by Eugène Robert Pougheon, c. 1930

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gouache over pencil on board, 28,2 x 28 cm, Christie, Sale 2854, lot 85, New York, 14 June 2014

In the summer of 2018, hot all over Europe, this picture by the French ‘art deco’ artist Pougheon will fit in the imagination of many people. These Amazones enjoy life on the beach together with their impressive grey horse. Geese fly above the sea.  On the background two other Amazones ride through the water on their white horses. These two riders in the sea were the subject of an oil painting the artist later made in 1934. That painting was Picture of the month July 2015 on the website The Horse in Art




Two contrasting riders:

Cavalry soldier, fully packed, by

Dirk Langendijk, 1785

Gentleman rider on the beach, by

Max Liebermann, 1910

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Dirk Langendijk, ink and watercolor on paper, 17,7 x 19,7 cm, signed and dated lower right, AAG Auctions. Amsterdam, 7 May 2012                                               Max Liebermann, oil on canvas, ca. 45 x 55 cm, signed and dated lower right, Museumslandschaft Hessen Kassel


The difference between the two horsemen could not be greater. The cavalry man and his horse loaded with all he needs for his bivouac and his weapons. We can see the tent poles and herrings, a blanket, a haversack, a kettle, a tricorn hat, a long rope, a rifle and a pistol holster. He is an example of the well-prepared soldier in control of the well-trained horse, trotting to his destination. The gentleman riding on the beach shows he has no duties, hardly a destination and is just enjoying a good time with a very relaxed horse. The horse stands still even with the approaching waves and the loose reins. Both horse and rider are relaxed. Two horses and two riders with a different role in life.

Cosa-Rara, horse of King Ludwig II of Bavaria, by Wilhelm Pfeiffer, 1869

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oil on canvas, 54,8 x 71,9 cm, signed lower right, Marstallmuseum Schloss Nymphenburg, Munich, inv. W35 (WAF)

The horse is eating from the table on the terrace of Ludwig’s hunting lodge Königshaus at Linderhof, near Munich. He tumbled a glass and a vase with flowers and quietly eats an apple from a dish. Between 1867 and 1880 Wilhelm Pfeiffer made 26 portraits of riding horses of King Ludwig, all with a different topographical background in the Munich area. This portrait shows a special situation: the horse has left its field, entered the garden and found something to its liking on the terrace. Tradition says that Ludwig himself had Cosa-Rara led to the table to watch its behavior. All 25 other horse portraits show regular posing situations, but for this horse the painter used the special situation which had really happened. Most of the riding horses of Ludwig II were English thoroughbreds.


Plaster figure of a horse, by Vincent van Gogh, after a plaster statuette by Théodore Géricault

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oil painting on cardboard, 33,5 x 41 cm, 1886,Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam, inv. F 216c

plaster statuette, 24,7 x 26,5 x 9,5 cm, 1870-1880 (original ca. 1810), Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam

Vincent van Gogh made this painting as an excercise in painting the horse, while he was studying at Fernand Cormon’s workshop in Paris. He spent three months there in the spring of 1886. The statuette by Théodore Géricault was often used as a teaching model in workshops of painters because of the anatomy and the movement of the horse. This example makes clear how important the correct rendering of the horse was for artists and it indicates the mastership of Théodore Géricault on this subject.

Donkey, beast of burden, by Maria Koijck, 2016

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Scrap metal, life size, in the exhibition ‘Op Poten’, Beeldenpark de Havixhorst, De Schiphorst, Netherlands, 2016

This animal artist (‘animalier’) uses waste material to create animals. This donkey clearly shows all characteristics of the donkey: thin tail, short legs,  trangular head, high hoofs and large ears. With pieces of scrap metal the artist is able to shape all necessary forms and to give the animal its own soul. In this way she proves her artistic genius. She calls her sculptures ‘spatial design’. Maria Koijck also distinguishes herself by large sculptures made of plastic waste in open spaces by which the public is confronted with familiar animals in an unusual way. She calls this work ‘community art’.

The White Horse, by Chris ten Bruggen Kate, 1965

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c. 85 x 100 cm, signed lower right, oil on cloth, Noord-Veluws Museum, Nunspeet

Chris ten Bruggen Kate (1920-2003) was born in Utrecht and worked all his life as a painter in Nunspeet and Zwolle, The Netherlands. He concentrated on local landscapes and his style evolved over time into ‘magical realism’. He also painted horses and especially white horses. His horses are usually part of the landscape, but here the artist has given all attention to the elegant lines and delicate coat of the white horse. The posture of the animal is designed to be graceful but still natural. This is a horse the artist may have seen in a dream. Once he did mention a black horse in the snow he had seen in a dream. This white horse is likely to be an Arabian thoroughbred, which type is the favorite of many painters, also in modern art.