Ariadne Galleries

Geometric Horse
Period: Eighth century BC
Culture: Greek
Material: Bronze
Dimensions: 6.2 cm H
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The highly stylized horse from the Greek Geometric Period is one of the most recognizable and celebrated images from antiquity. The narrow tubular body contrasts especially with the voluminous hind quarters and the broad high-arching mane. The subtly curving ears and muzzle seamlessly flow into each other, creating a simple yet striking profile. Incised lines and punched concentric circles adorn the mane and body, adding an interesting decorative dimension. 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 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 lovely horse would have likely been a sacred votive offering of an elite personage in a public sanctuary.

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. Objects of this kind are known from temple sanctuaries such as Corinth and Olympia. This piece, configured with a modest array of forms to produce such an alluring object, embodies the style of its age.


Private Collection (T.S.), United Kingdom, 1979.