Ancient Civilization
History of Horse Art

Ancient Etruscan Civilization horse art sculpture of two horses in harness.

Logo for Horse Art in Ancient Civilizations History of Horses in  Art has highlighted civilizations from ancient times.

History of Horse Art Areas and Times:

Art Bio of Sculptor Patricia Crane
Horse Artist: Four Decades of Horse Art by Patricia Crane

History of Horse Art  Main Page
Early Oriental
Medieval Times
Baroque Age
Eighteenth Century
Nineteenth Century

 Illustrations of Ancient Art:
Ancient French Caves
Parthenon - Image of "Horse of Selene" by Phidias
lst Century Art - Roman Chariot
Marcus Aurelius at Capitoline Museum, Rome
Sixth Century - Brooch of a Horse
Sculpture of St. Marks in Venice
Prehistoric Art
All of the useful and aesthetic pleasures gained from mankind's association with the horse have, from very ancient times, resulted in horse art -- artifacts, sculpture, prints, drawing and paintings. Numerous civilizations flourished in what we now call ancient times and the horse was featured in many cultures whose art works have come down to us today. They reflect the migration and development of horses through centuries and there is evidence primarily though the art of these ancient civilizations that horses were domesticated as long as 3,500 years ago.

From the Stone Age, Scythian, Assyrian, Persian, Chinese, Indian, Greek and Roman, Medieval, Renaissance and Western European, the body of art work,  is largely how civilizations have become known to modern day man.

A striking example of  from 250 BC comes from the tomb of King Mausolus at Halicarnassus ( coast of Asia Minor) and was known as one of the Seven Wonders of the World before being destroyed by an earthquake in the middle ages and later plundered. Pliny described a four horse chariot sculpture surmounting this huge tomb, and one of the remains today, is the front end of an over life size horse, with bridle.

By the time Alexander the Great crossed the Hellespont in 334 BC the horse has begun its long cavalry career. Wall decorations and horse carvings and sculpture from the Parthenon make it clear that though still smallish, horses  had become more refined in conformation.

From the fourth and fifth centuries, works of art depict the types of harness common to eastern Siberia and the Mediterranean. 

The Hermitage in St. Petersburg contains  treasures from provincial area of the early eighteen century gathered by Peter the Great which include a fourth century B.C. belt plaque featuring tamed horses in cast gold. The scene between horses and humans, relaxing and at ease, is one that is very common between horses and horsemen of today.

Horses in art of the ancient Persian Empire begun with King Darius in 521 BC, is shown in bas-relief carvings at Persepolis. Horses from different parts of the empire were depicted, falling into three distinct types, some of which were taller horses.

The Museum at Chatillon-sur-Sein, in France, contains a wine mixer from sixth century Italy - decorated with a frieze of eight horse drawn chariots. The bridles bear a strong resemblance to those of horses of the eastern Steppes.

One of the earliest representations of horses and chariots was found in the Assyrian palace at Nineveh where large wall slabs, carved bas-relief, depict the victories in war, dating from the seventh century BC. The horse was smaller then and not ridden to war, but the horse powered chariot remade the history of war. The chariot eventually became a tool of ceremony, burial and in Rome of high sport.

Horses in the art of the Classical Greek era achieved a kind of perfection later emulated by Rome and actually forming the basis of Western art. The frieze from the interior of the colonnade of the Parthenon sculpture of Phidias from the mid- fifth century BC) is one of the best known sculptures of this Golden Age.

From early days of ancient civilizations, from cave paintings to artifacts, the horse was a spiritual component of man's life and days, as well as a companion of work and pleasure.

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© All Photos and Sculpture Copyright 2000 - 2017, Patricia Crane.