Baroque Age History of Horse Art

Baroque Art horse painting by Velasquez.

Logo for Baroque Horse Art. The Baroque age saw a renewal of the art of equitation and horses in artwork was more popular than ever before.

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
Ancient Civilizations
Early Oriental
Medieval Times
Eighteenth Century
Nineteenth Century

Illustrations of Baroque Horse Art:

St Martin and the Beggar - El Greco 1541-1614
Conversion of St. Paul - Caravaggio 1571-1610
The Chancellor Seguier - Charles Le Brun 1619 -90
Equestrian Portrait - Van Dyck 1599-1641
Prince Balthasar Carlos - Velasquez 1599-1660
Lady and Gentleman - Aelbert Cuyp 1620-91
Philips Wouwermans 1619-68

The Baroque age began in the final years of the 16th century and the end of the Renaissance. There was a renewal of the art of equitation and horses in  artworks were more popular than ever before in history.

Classical riding was in vogue in royal courts and in the houses of European nobility. This was also a time period in which many dissertations on the subject of high school equitation were written. The treatise of Xenophon, a noted Greek historian and author of equitation, was rediscovered and studied and the partnership of horse and man were once again a subject of society and artists alike. The horse was evident both in painting and in the art of riding.

Such masters as Rubens, Van Dyke and Velazquez painted portraits of their patrons mounted on elegant horses. Opulence was the key of the era, and horses were depicted with flowing manes and tails, with rounded hind quarters in a manner that was very rich, but not in relation to reality. Often the horses, even in battle scenes were painted in high school poses.

Movement had a great appeal to Baroque painters, and the poses Rubens selected for the horse in his  work certainly displayed complete mastery. Small scale battle scenes were popular themes in the 17th century as can be seen in the works of Jacques Courtois, Philips Wouwermans and Jan Wyck. Normally the horse  was portrayed in small scale, did not require great detail – in fact the battle scenes were not based on reality or historical engagements.

Caravaggio certainly captured the drama of the age with his brilliant chiaroscuro. Caravaggio’s painting of St Paul’s Journey to Damascus is linked under illustrations on this page.

Le Brun’s style of painting might be unfashionable today, but was delightfully in tune with the Baroque period. His patron’s included Chancellor Seguier ( a riding school master), Cardinal Barberini and Pope Urban VIII, then later in life Louis XIV.

In many art works of the day, much more importance was placed on horses than in previous time periods.

In painting the favorite pony Prince Balthasar Carlos, Diego Velasquez had to work from the deceased and stuffed pony, it having already lived it’s life.

Stefano della Bella was an etcher and imitated the work of Callot, but his love of animals, especially horses, infused the subject matter of his prolific career and he portrayed many horses in many poses, including the work horse.

The art works of Aelbert Cuyp and Philips Wouwermans were typical of the Dutch style, and very naturalistic.

It was also during this time period that horse sporting art became a genre. Horse racing as the subject of artworks abounded under the patronage of the British Tudor and house of Stuart, as well as Charles II. Owners of winning horses commissioned portraits. Charles II established Newmarket as a center of racing and Barb and Arab stallions were imported and crossed with the local stock of England, giving rise eventually to the Thoroughbred. The genre of sporting art continues to be popular today.

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