The highly stylized horse from the Greek Geometric Period is one of the most recognizable and celebrated images from antiquity. This impactful petite sculpture of personal piety hails from the era of great foundation in ancient Greece. Not only was this the epoch of Homer, but it was the time when the Greek alphabet was developed, and when the Greek polis arose. In this period, rites and rituals became more defined, while state-sanctioned religion was further established. In turn, social classes became more distinct with wealth more influential. A small bronze sculpture such as this charming horse would have probably served as a sacred votive, left by a person of high social standing, at one of the great sanctuaries of Archaic Greece, such as Delphi or Olympia.
The horse was revered in ancient Greece and expressed wealth and prestige. It appeared in a range of artistic media, notably as a component of the Parthenon Marbles, and was also celebrated in mythology, religion and ancient texts. The Athenian philosopher Xenophon (circa 430-354 BC), also a foremost equestrian, praised the virtues of the horse in his works On the Art of Horsemanship and On the Cavalry Commander. This piece, configured with a modest array of forms to produce such an alluring object, embodies the unique style of its age.
Private Collection, UK, 1979.