The fascination with the power of the horse in the paint and its connection with man accompanies us not only during the history of man but also from prehistory dating back to the late Paleolithic.
In the Cave of Ekain are the first reflections of the horse in the paint. It is located in the Basque country. Ekain has an outstanding collection of cave paintings of horses, relevant for their quantity and quality.
Throughout the different galleries there are 70 figures and of which 58% correspond to horses. For the studies carried out, these horses were not used for food but already become companions of the human being. The paintings of the cave are framed in the Magdalenian culture that dates between 14,000 and 6,000 BC.
It is one of the oldest records of the connection between man and horse. The cave of Ekain is a World Heritage Site of UNESCO since 2008.
Advancing in time, in the Chinese painting stood out the horse painter Han Gan during the Tang Dynasty, 8th century. Han had the reputation of portraying not only the horse but even portraying his spirit. This level of depth in the relationship between man and horse is admirable and few of us notice it today. With Han Gan the horse in the paint reach a new level.
The modern horse in the paint
Actually, the horse in the paint remains its importances. Today I am going to introduce you to two interesting representatives of equine painting who, besides being recognized, have a powerful attraction in their works. The selected ones are the French Théodore Géricault and the George Stubbs.
Jean-Louis André Théodore Géricault was born in Rouen France in September 1791. Son of Luisa-Juana-María Caruel and lawyer Jorge Nicolás Géricault. In 1808, he had already made the decision to dedicate himself to painting, entering as a student in the studio of Carle Vernet enchanted by Vernet’s horse paintings. In his studio he met Vernet’s son, Horace, and Pierre Guérin with whom he had a long friendship.
Géricault’s passion for horses was his muse and horses would end up becoming the main distinguishing mark of his art and one of the most significant symbols. His images transmit freedom, power, but above all innocence. Two of his most significant works are reflected below
Théodore Géricault’s painting conveys a sense of familiarity and empathy between the man and the horse where the viewer approaches the feelings of the equine from his own feelings evoking in his spirit such a connection. Simply wonderful.
Painter self-taught and in love with horses and their anatomy. Born in England, George Stubbs is mainly known for his horse paintings. He also felt a deep passion for anatomy, both human and equine.
Stubbs began his artistic training as an apprentice to the painter and engraver Hamlet Winstanley. Soon he was frustrated by Winstanley’s learning method. His method was to copy other works instead of studying and creating.
It is from this moment that he gave free rein to his passion for anatomy and ended up writing in 1766 “The Anatomy of the Horse” after spending a year and a half on a farm in Lincolnshire studying horses.
During his life Stubbs had several patrons who recognized his talent and commissioned many paintings such as the Duke of Richmond and the Marquis of Rockingham
The most famous work of Stubbs is Whistlejacket, a painting of a wild horse rearing that was commissioned by the Marquis of Rockingam, along with two other paintings, and whose distinctive feature funds without any vitality, concentrating the attention and energy of the viewer in the vitality of the horse. Currently the paintings are in London at the National Gallery.
Stubbs achieves the perfect representation of the horse anatomically in turn capturing the vital energy of horses. He managed to transmit all the power and beauty of the animal in its pure essence.
Stubbs and Gericault are worthy representatives of the horse in the paint and the equine art. Moreover, they are representatives of that part of humanity that has discovered the best companion of man, the horse.
If you want to know more about Gustavo Mirabal or Equestrian Word, go to: