Nineteenth Century History of Horse Art

19th Century Horse Art Painting by Delacroix.

Logo for Horse Art in the 19th Century. Sporting-orse art thrived from amateur artists to fine arts in the Nineteenth Century.

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
Baroque Age
Eighteenth Century

Illustrations of 19th Century Horse Art:
William Blake (1757-1827) For a ballad
James Ward (1769-1859)
John Ferneley Sr (1782-1860)
Edwin Cooper of Beccles (1785-1833)
John Frederick Herring The Elder (1795-1865)
Gericault (1791-1824)
Delacroix (1798-1663)
Edwin Landseer (1802-1873)
Edward Troye (1808-1874)
Edouard Manet (1821-81)
Sculpture of Edgar Degas (1834-1917)
Degas Paintings
Rosa Bonheur
Paul Gauguin (1848-1903)
Horse Art of Frederic Remmington (1861-1909)
Henri de Toulouse Lautrec (1864-1901)

History of horse art in the Nineteenth Century was carried swiftly forward by the ground breaking work of George Stubbs in the previous century, and was also influenced in the wider field of art by the pastoral landscapes of John Constable and J.M.W. Turner, with their use of light and atmosphere and energy.

Sporting art in England included the passionate activities of racing, steeplechasing, foxhunting, coaching and polo. Patronage of the art was high. It was also popular to depict the horse in the stable and many portraits were produced along this theme.

The century opened with the publication, in 1805, of the poet-painter William Blake's sixteen "Ballads", the last of which he illustrated with a pen and tempera depicting a white horse, and the courage of a mother's love.

Jacques Laurent Agasse, active in the preceding century, continued to produce very fine horse artwork in the 19th Century. Agasse was born in Geneva but studied in Paris with Jacques Louis David before coming to England in 1800. (See History of Horse Art of the Eighteen Century for an example of Agasse).

Claude Vernet, a French painter drew and painted horses during his long career as an artist, initially filling the demand of the Napoleonic years for battle scenes, including the Mamelukes who were the ruling chaste in Egypt at the time of Napoleon. Later Vernet painted many fine hunting scenes.

Horse art as a genre basically exploded into activity in England in the 19th century, with work by James Ward, Benjamin Marshal, Henry Bernard Chalon ,John Ferneley, Edwin Cooper, David Dalby, James Pollard, John Herring, Sr. and later his son Benjamin.

Ben Marshall ( British) was one of the leading horse artists of the day, and lived near Newmarket, the subject of many of his works, and near to the activities of his patrons. Many of his works show the influence of the earlier George Stubbs.

James Ward ( British) was certainly at home painting horses, and infused his work with the Romanticism of the time, although many of his themes were history painting. One of his largest works was in commemoration of Wellington’s victory at Waterloo. Horses however were a dominate theme of Ward.

When Theodore Gericault( French) visited England with his incredible and now very famous painting of The Raft of the Medusa and was exposed to the animal artists , he painted the Epsom Derby, capturing a drama of lighting in the work that was in contrast to the English painters. He continued to produce powerful and romantic paintings of the horse, both in the stable and in motion. Another famous French painter of the period was Eugene Delacroix. Both Gericault and Delacroix became the leading painters of horses in the French Romantic period of the latter part of the 19th century. These two, not only painted horses but were involved with horses, bringing the strength and energy of the horse to their canvases.

Following the Napoleonic Wars, the passion for horse racing in England spread to France and developed rapidly during the 19th century bringing a demand for artwork of horses.. Alfred de Dreuxand Rene Princeteau were there to oblige.

A master of painting and sculpture was also available by the middle of the century – Edgar Degas. Degas began painting horse racing scenes when he was 27 and Classicism can be seen in lines reminiscence of Ingres. Degas was also a master at capturing movement and gesture in whatever medium he employed, be it sculpture, drawing, pastel, or painting.

With the invention of photography, painters like Degas, while producing “fine” art of the highest quality, used the invention to their advantage, for study and knowledge. Even Degas’ early pencil studies show a mastery of line in his depiction of the horse that reflects the knowledge given to all through photography. In France the French Jockey Club was formed in 1833 and continued to grow and flourish throughout the century. and the Impressionistic Degas immortalized the racing scene with his painterly technique and fine discernment of horse movements.

John Dalby ( British) carried forward the trend which began in John Wootoon’s day ( See History of Horse Art of the Eighteenth Century for an example of Wootoon), a trend that continued to flourish -- that being painting Arabian horses in desert landscapes. This again, was a good vehicle for the Romantic Art period of the day.

Edwin Cooper ( British) was a minor artist along with Dalby, and created many enthusiastic works depicting fox hunting and sports, which were in demand as the fervor of sporting spread beyond the participation of only noblemen.

In the mid-nineteenth century, John Frederick Herring Sr, and his three sons ( British) , produced an incredible number of  horse sporting paintings. The demand for art work of  horses and sport just continued to increase.

Edwin Landseer (British) had royal patronage, and was a very fine animal painter as his works that contain the horse as subject prove. While the sentiment of his work strongly conveyed that of the Victorian age, his sense of movement and the “poise” of the horse, remain popular in art print reproductions today.

The painter Jean Louis Ernest Meisonnier (French) filled a popular great demand for paintings of military subject in mid-century France. Most of his work was painted in the salon tradition.

Edouard Manet ( French), by the middle to almost the end of the century, was an impressionist painter, and his imaginary view of a race as Longchamp shows the vigor and movement of horses rushing toward the viewer, with the energetic brush strokes joining the “feel” of the racing , extended horses.

Another world class French painter, working from mid to end of century, was Paul Gauguin who did produce one painting of horses titled “The White Horse” in 1898. The painting is a scene of primitive beauty, portraying an idyllic horse and mood, rather than a horse of strength or nobility. A rider is seated bareback on a chestnut, and the entire scene is bathed in a warm dappled light effect, with trees and water.

Roas Bonheur and her brother Isadore, painter and sculptor respectively, produced much fine equine art. Rosa’s Horse Fair painting established her fame in the US, as did her other works in her homeland of France. Isadore’s horse sculpture focused to a large extend on the racing scene and his horses are far more original than those sculptors popular in his day.. There were many French sculptors, animaliers, during this century: Pierre Jules Mene, Emmanuel Fremiet ( perhaps the largest talent), Christophe Fratin, Antoine Louis Barye, Jaquemart, Pierre Lenordez, Jules Moigniez, and L. de Monard , to name a few.

Henri de Toulouse Lautrec turned to drawing as a focus beyond his physical disabilities and featured horses extensively in is brilliant illustrations. His lithographic work caused a sensation in the 1800’s with his style, verve and colors, capturing for all time the life in Paris cabarets, that of dancers and the circus. Toulouse became, along with Cezanne, Van Gogh and Gaugin, one of the most famous of Post-Impressionistic painters.

The history of horse art in American during the eighteenth century featured the then native mustang, some battle scenes and most decidedly the racing scene and sporting art.

Edward Troye, for a great many years of the century, was the undisputed master painter of race horse portraits in America. Swiss born, and studying in England, his immigration to the US gave rise to many lovely horse images.

George Catlin (American), 1796-1872, produced many drawings and paintings between the 1830’s and 40’s
presented in a rather primitive style scenes of the Native American, with whom he lived during that time. Many reproductions of his work are available today.

The painter, drawer, sculptor Frederick Remington (American), on the other hand, offers a more realistic view of the Native American. His use of color palates from the western United States are rich the knowledge of horse anatomy and motion is quite obvious in his sculpture and two dimensional images of the western horse and cowboy. One of his most influential patrons was the President of the US, but his work speaks for itself in museums today.

When harness racing became popular in America, these scenes were portrayed, however quaintly, in the lithographs of Nathaniel Currier and his partner James Ives.

Back to the high echelon of fine art, Pierre Auguste Renoir (French), 1841-1919, was of course a major talent in the world of art, then and now. Although he was not a painter of horses per se, he did produce a stupendous painting of a lady riding side-saddle in the company of a young male rider on a pony. The beginning of the 20th century saw the growth of feminism and there was increasing participation in sport by women riders, who began to ride astride.

All in all , the nineteenth century was one of great movement and increasing freedoms, from the beginning of the end of the war horse, the end of strict religious subjects of artists, improvement of roads and horse drawn vehicles, the grand genre of sporting art as activities opened to more of the population, and the art movements of Neoclassicism, Romanticism , and Impressionism, photography and ladies riding astride!

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