Bronze, red-brown goldish patina – lost wax
Paris, c 1600
Barthélemy Prieur (1536 – 1611) (att.)
Joseph Duveen, 1st Baron Duveen (1869-1939)
H 15,5 x W 18 x D 5 cm (bronze only)
H 6 1/8 x W 7 x D 2 inch
The tail is attached and a fine joint is visible. The stallion is shod and the nails are marked in the hooves, round-headed. Right foreleg and left rear leg are raised, and the head inclines slightly to the right. The bronze has a natural brown patina and retains an apparently original ruddy-brown varnish best preserved in on the least handled and most detailed portions (neck, head and legs) but only in the hollows on the horse’s barrel. The teeth are minutely worked, irises are incised in the eyes and hairs are tooled into the fringes of the ears. The mane is hogged and knotted in individual locks.
The present statuette is derived from the Pacing Horse, approximately twice as large, produced by Giambologna's workshop, possibly as a study for the horse in the equestrian monument to Cosimo I. The Giambologna model is known in many versions, at least some of which appear to have been cast within Giambologna's lifetime. Only a few casts of this bronze are known, all of small size of slightly variable height (15 to 16 cm). Even though long regarded as Florentine circa 1600, this model is now attributed to Barthélemy Prieur. It must be conceded that the Giambologna horse, which is certainly its source, would not appear to have been in circulation until late in Prieur's life.
One example, with a clipped and untextured mane, exists in the Bargello but is slightly taller (15.7 cm, without base) than the present example. Another version in a private collection in New York, is of a quite smaller dimension (14.6 cm) and apparently differs from the present statuette mainly in finishing. Its mane is flowing and completely tooled, the barrel again has more pronounced veining, and it lacks the liquid surface of the present example. Another smaller bronze (14,8 cm) is in the National Gallery of Washington (Robert H. Smith Collection).
The association of this bronze horse with Prieur depends on the affinity with a supple movement, smooth elegance and, above all, economy of detail. The modelling is exceptional among the many bronze horses of the early seventeenth century for its simplicity and grace.
A. Radcliffe, N. Penny, The Robert H. Smith Collection. Art of the Renaissance 1500-1650, (London - 2004).
C. Avery, M. Hall, Giambologna: An Exhibition of Sculpture by the Master and his Followers from the Collection of Michael Hall, Miami-Dade College Museum of Art, (Freedom Tower - 2010).