There was a fashion photo shoot for a major magazine at the farm today. There was a possibility that my horse was going to be used in the shoot, so she got to primp for about an hour. (OK, I primped for her. There isn't much she can do without thumbs.) But sadly they didn't take any closeups of the horses, just some background shots of horses in the paddocks. I am still excited to see the finished product when it comes out in June or July.
This got me thinking about Model Horses.
OK, I don't mean "Model Horses" like Breyers. I mean horses who are models. With equestrian couture, both the functional kind worn in the show ring, and the influence it frequently exerts on high fashion designers, being what it is, a horse can be the ultimate accessory. From the Dover Saddlery Catalog to Ralph Lauren's iconic polo logo, to any number of famous fashion design houses, a horse lends a certain sophistication to any look.
Being a model is not always about fashion and clothing. More often it is about Art. Art is found in many mediums, but for the purposes of this post I am going to focus on the more traditional forms of painting, photography and sculpture.
Horses have been depicted in art, from times before there was anything called "art." And before horses were even domesticated. Such as this painting from the Lascaux caves.
Horses were also a common theme in both ancient Egyptian and Grecian art. As represented by this Athenian Horse Head sculpture.
This sculpture brings to mind all the mounted statues of famous war heroes that adorn public squares and castles. The horses in these statues were frequently heroes in their own right. There is a common misconception that the pose of the horse conveyed specific meanings. Particularly the placement of their legs. It was believed that if the horse had two legs raised in a rear, the rider died in battle, if it had one leg raised they were wounded in battle, and may or may not have died at a later date from their wounds, and if all 4 feet were on the ground they died in peace. This is largely true of the statues associated with Gettysburg (with at least 1 exception) but not necessarily a standard elsewhere. Although I presume that some artists familiar with the myth now emulate it.
My favorite Spanish painter, Diego Velásquez was a leading artist during the 1600's and catered mainly to the court of King Philip IV. He was known primarily as a portrait painter, however, a number of his portraits were mounted, thus proving my personal opinion that some people (myself included) look better on horseback. Equines are very flattering. One of my personal favorites is of young Prince Balthasar Carlos.
There have been a number of renowned artists who specialized in immortalizing famous equines, or simply favorite equines depending on their target audience. One of these artists, Edgar Degas, a French artist of the impressionist style was known for his paintings of horses and ballet dancers.
Another famous painter of horses was George Stubbs. Stubbs was an English artist, renowned for his paintings of horses, along with other exotic animals and did many commissions for Dukes and Lords. Including his most famous painting of Whistlejacket, painted for the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham.
A more modern example of Equine art shows not horses as accessories, but rather horses with accessories in the form of elaborate hairdos created with extensions. These were taken by Photographer Julian Wolkenstein, and were briefly an internet sensation.
And finally, a picture of my favorite model.