The horses

The horses

Quotes from the book ‘From Marcus Aurelius to Kim Jong-il’

An equestrian statue may be dedicated to the rider, but the portrayal of the horse is no less important. Both have to be in harmony with each other. In a good equestrian statue, one should recognize the character of the rider from the way the horse has been sculpted. For instance, a horse at rest gives a sense of authority to the rider. A rearing horse combines well with a dynamic rider.

Rearing horses

It is a little-known fact that in 1630, the Austrian sculptor Caspar Gras had already created a rearing equestrian without using the tail of the horse as a support point. The statue depicts Archduke Leopold V and stands on top of the Leopoldsbrunnen fountain in Innsbruck, Austria.

…………………Creating an equestrian statue with a rearing horse was the big challenge for sculptors in the early days of creating these works. The honour of being the first one to do so usually goes to Pietro Tacca, with his statue of Philip IV in Madrid, in 1640 an unprecedented technical feat of bronze casting on this scale.

………………….Creating a monumental-size equestrian statue of a rearing horse, without using its tail or something else as a support, remained a challenge. Clark Mills was one of the first sculptors to do so. He created the equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson, finalized in 1852 and unveiled in Washington in January 1853.

…………………………Fernkorn skilfully executed in this work the difficult task of creating a monumentally sized equestrian statue with the horse and rider successfully balanced on the horse’s rear legs. It was quite an achievement that a statue weighing more than ten tons stands on only two spots, each no larger than a hand. It is said that the stress caused………………

……………………….Three years later, Daumas did not include the banner in his Buenos Aires statue. San Martin now only points forward. By doing this, he changed the centre of gravity in such a way that the tail of the horse was no longer needed as a support point, as was the case with the Santiago statue, thereby giving the sculpture more dynamism.

……………………..The (lead) statue of Christian V in Copenhagen (1688) by Abraham César Lamoureux could only be prevented from collapsing by adding a man crouching underneath the hoof of the trotting horse, personifying envy. This provides support for the weakest point of the statue, the horse’s barrel.

Horses with a name and fame

………………………The horses in the American Civil War heroes statues are often ‘true to nature’ reproductions of these animals, which were known by their name: Little Sorel of General ‘Stonewall’ Jackson, Traveller of General Lee, Rienzi of General Sheridan and Highfly of General Stuart to name but a few.

Gender of the horses

By far the majority of the portrayed horses are steeds. Only 9 per cent of the almost 600 equestrian statues where I recorded the gender were a mare or a gelding.

Some amusing stories about the gender of the horse are the following………