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Famous Equestrian Paintings and Drawings; Horse Racing and The Horse in Art

Amanda is a keen artist and art historian with a particular interest in 19th-century art, especially the work of the Pre-Raphaelites.

Whistlejacket by George Stubbs

Whistlejacket by George Stubbs. Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Whistlejacket by George Stubbs. Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Some Famous Equestrian Artists

  1. Susan Crawford (1941-) Undoubtedly one of the greatest British equestrian artists, Susan Crawford has created an outstanding body of work, including one of the best known equestrian paintings 'We Three Kings', which features portrait heads of 'Desert Orchid, Red Rum and Arkle'. Born in Scotland in 1941, Susan Crawford has enjoyed enormous professional success and acclaim throughout her career.
  2. Sir Alfred Munnings (1878-1959) Sir Alfred James Munnings, was known as one of England's finest painters of horses, and his distinguished artistic career was rewarded with a knighthood and a spell as president of London's Royal Academy of Art. He painted numerous well-known pictures in his long career, many of which can be seen hanging at his former home, Castle House in Dedham, Essex.
  3. George Stubbs (1724-1806) From humble origins as the son of a leather dresser, George Stubbs became one of the most sought after equestrian artists of his era. George Stubbs painted the famous study of 'Whistlejacket' that heads this article.
  4. Lucy Kemp Welch (1869-1958) British painter and teacher, Lucy Elizabeth Kemp-Welch was best known for the paintings of horses in military service she produced during the first World War, and for her illustrations to the 1915 edition of Anna Sewell's Black Beauty. Born in Bournemouth in Dorset, England, Kemp-Welch dedicated her life to painting horses and other animals.
  5. Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899) Her most famous work, the monumental Horse Fair, measured eight feet high by sixteen feet wide, and was completed in 1855. Bonheur was born in France, and succeeded in a male dominated profession. Her astonishingly detailed work hangs in museums and galleries around the world.
  6. Mike Heslop - Contemporary British artist, Mike Heslop enjoys a worldwide appeal and reputation as an exceptional sporting artist. His work is highly collectable, and he has painted many world-renowned racehourses. His many commissions include artwork for a set of UK Royal Mail postage stamps.
  7. Martin Grelle (1954-) Born and raised in the US state of Texas, Martin Grelle's iconic images of horses, cowboys, and native American Indians, earned him membership of the Cowboy Artists of America in 1995. He has won many prestigious awards for his evocative artwork.

Some More Equestrian Artists and Examples of their Work

Shown below are some well known works of equestrian art with a little bit of information about each of them. These are presented in alphabetical order, and include some of the earliest examples of art featuring horses.

Henry Alken

Henry Alken was born in London on 12 October 1785. He came from a family of artists, and he studied primarily under his father, Samuel Alken, and subsequently with the miniaturist, John Thomas Barber Beaumont.

From quite early in his career, Alken began to specialise in sporting subjects, and painted under the name of "Ben Tally-Ho".His highly illustrative style won him many commissions, and his work was very sought after. He became a successful cartoonist and illustrator of sporting life, and his paintings and drawings of horses were among his most popular works. Today his work can be seen hanging in some of the most pretigious museums and galleries, including both theTate Modern, and the British Museum, in London.

'Fox Hunting' by Henry Alken

Henry Thomas Alken [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Henry Thomas Alken [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

'To the Craners of England' by Henry Alken

equestrian-paintings-and-drawings-horse-racing-and-the-horse-in-art

Robert Bevan's Mare and Foal

Born on the South Coast of England, in Hove, East Sussex, in 1865, Robert Bevan was fortunate enough to be able to study and work in Paris during his early years as an artist, and he knew both Gaugin and Renoir, and studied alongside Pierre Bonnard. This early exposure to the works of the great French Impressionists helped Bevan to develop a very distinctive personal style of painting. Unfortunately, just like Van Gogh and Rousseau, Bevan's work was not always well appreciated in his life-time. However, a series of retrospective exhibitions held in 1965, 100 years after his birth revealed his extraordinary talent, and many of his paintings can now be seen at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford, as part of the Bevan Gift, a donation made by Robert Bevan's children.

This simple rendering of a mare and her foal was completed in 1917, eight years before Robert Bevan's death. It is one of a series of horse paintings completed by Bevan.

Mare and Foal by Robert Bevan

Courtesy of Wiki Commons

Courtesy of Wiki Commons

'The Horse Mart' by Robert Bevan

equestrian-paintings-and-drawings-horse-racing-and-the-horse-in-art

Rosa Bonheur (1822-1899)

Rosa Bonheur was born on 16 March 1822 in Bordeaux, France. She was the oldest child in a family of artists, and several of her siblings were also very successful painters or sculptors. Rosa Bonheur was the best known of these, and her work is on display in galleries world-wide.

Bonheur had a preference for depicting animal subjects, and her skill was quite extraordinary. At a time when very few women were permitted to pursue an artistic education, or to consider a career in art, Rosa Bonheur blazed her own trail, and we are priveleged to still enjoy her work today.

Relay Hunting by Rosa Bonheur 1887

Currently on view at the St Louis Art Museum, this is a good example of Rosa Bonheurs skill at depicting horses.

Currently on view at the St Louis Art Museum, this is a good example of Rosa Bonheurs skill at depicting horses.

'Relay Hunting' by Rosa Bonheur, 1887

Rosa Bonheur (1822-99) was already in her 60s when she completed this serene oil on canvas. Whilst it has none of the fire and passion of her earlier painting 'The Horse Fair' which is shown below, it does demonstrate her mastery of animal portraiture. The horses are beautifully painted and every detail is faithfully recorded.

The St Louis Art Museum received this picture as a gift from Justina G. Catlin in memory of her husband, Daniel.

Detail from 'The Horse Fair' by Rosa Bonheur,1853-55

This picture can be seen in The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons

This picture can be seen in The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Image courtesy of Wiki Commons