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HOME : Decorative Arts : Sculptures : Neo-Classical Marble Sculpture of a Horse Head
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Neo-Classical Marble Sculpture of a Horse Head - SP.027
Origin: Europe
Circa: 19 th Century AD
Dimensions: 10.25" (26.0cm) high x 13" (33.0cm) wide x 4.25" (10.8cm) depth
Collection: Decorative
Medium: Marble

Location: United States
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During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, European artists fanatically copied Greek and Roman originals and faithfully imitated their styles as a tribute to European Classical heritage. This sculpture of a horse head recalls the famed fragment of the horse of Selene from the east pediment of the Parthenon, brought to London by Lord Elgin and displayed at the British Museum in 1816.

The ancient Greeks revered horses as the most beautiful and perfectly created of all animals, being the handiwork of Poseidon. Those who were wealthy enough to own horses derived prestige from their holdings and often gave names to their children that hinted at the family’s connection to horses. For the Romans, the social class just below that of the senatorial was the equestrian class, commonly known today as knights. That is to say that these families were wealthy enough to own horses and in warfare, their sons were eligible to serve in the cavalry.

The head rears, the mane billows, nostrils flare. The eyes and ears show the alertness of an animal driven into the heat of battle by a rider bent on victory. Who knows what purpose this figure served to the rest of the composition? It is tantalizing to imagine what the rest of the sculpture may have been and whose legs sat astride the back of this horse. The craftsmanship is spectacular, combining realism and intense emotion – a testament to the nobility of the horse and those who rode them, as well as a tribute to the Classical heritage of European art. - (SP.027)


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