Horses in Literature and Art 

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Horses in Literature and Art

Horses are beautiful, majestic animals. They have been an inspiration for many artistic works in history. They inspire literature and art. Horses can be used as symbols for several things. Horses are commonly used as symbols for power, grace, beauty, nobility, strength, freedom.

Horses In Different Cultures

In Celtic culture, the Horses were associated with war and victory, and conquering territories. The Greco-Romans associated the horse with the spoils of war. Horses were a symbol of power, victory, honor, domination, and virility. In Hindu culture, Horses are equated with the cosmos because they believe a white horse was the last incarnation of their god, Vishnu. Horses also are very symbolic in Native American culture. They represent the power of the earth and wisdom and a messenger.

Horses In Art

Horses have been shown in art history for centuries. One of the best painters in the Tang Dynasty, Han Gan, regularly painted the imperial horses to study their movement and musculature. In 1513, Gothic artist Albrecht Durer, included horses in his portrayal of a valiant Christian knight. There was another painting in 1762 by George Stubbs, called Whistlejacket. He taught himself how to depict the anatomy of the horses. He used corpses of horses to study the anatomy. In 1800, there was a painting by Jacques-Louis David called Napoleon Crossing the Alps. This was one of the many portrayals of France’s emperor, Napolean Bonaparte. He asked to be portrayed as being calm on a “fiery” horse. He got what he wanted.

In 1878, Eadweard Muybridge, created the photo series of a horse running. It was an innovation in early photography. He used dozens of cameras at once, and he introduced it as a prototype of a rudimentary movie. He did it to prove that when a thoroughbred gallops it has all four hooves off the ground at the top of his stride.

In Picasso’s depiction of the bombing of a Spanish town during World War II, there was a figure of a twisted and agonized horse. You can see a skull shape in the horse’s nostrils and teeth. New York poet Patti Smith used horses in her album art. In the classic British comedy, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, the characters use coconuts to make it sound like horses. They clacked the coconuts together to simulate the sounds of horse hooves.

Horses In Literature

The classic book, Black Beauty, is the a book about a horse’s career in 1877 as a London taxi-horse. The horse finds love in mare named Ginger. The book also talks about the twilight years of this gorgeous animal. Seabiscuit is another famous horse in literature. The biographical novel brought 1930s horse racing into America’s psyche. Hollywood brought the book to life in a great movie two years later. Don Quixote also features a great horse named “Rocinante” which means “lofty and sonorous.” There are some beautiful horses in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. One in particular, Shadowfax, who belonged to the wise wizard Gandalf. Gandalf referred to him as the swiftest steed in Middle Earth. The Houyhnhnms in Gulliver’s Travels were also famous. Gulliver persuaded them that he was not human, and he felt more at home with them after that.

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