White Beauty

The Westbury White Horse (photo), / Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK
The Westbury White Horse (photo), / Salisbury, Wiltshire, UK



The horse in Anglo-Saxon mythology is an extremely significant symbol

'Horsa' - from which we derive the modern word 'horse' - was the semi-mythological leader of the Anglo-Saxons who landed near Ebbsfleet, on the Isle of Thanet in the 6th century and so the white horse became the symbol of Kent.

In ancient times these figures would be made by revealing the underlying chalk.

Wallinger is said to have based his design on a racehorse which he sees as symbolic of British colonial and post-colonial history and looks set to follow a tradition of great British horse artists which includes Munnings and Stubbs

Mambrino, 1779 (oil on panel), Stubbs, George (1724-1806) / Private Collection
Mambrino, 1779 (oil on panel), Stubbs, George (1724-1806) / Private Collection

The Pink Jockey (oil on panel), Munnings, Sir Alfred (1878-1959) / Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, USA
The Pink Jockey (oil on panel), Munnings, Sir Alfred (1878-1959) / Yale Center for British Art, Paul Mellon Collection, USA

Many people who are unfamiliar with horses call grey horses ‘white’. Most of the famous ‘white’ horses that we think of were in fact greys. For example, Naploeon’s favourite mount, Marengoand the most loved racehorse of recent years, Desert Orchid

Voyage, 2005 by Le Brun, Christopher (b.1951) / Private Collection
Voyage, 2005 by Le Brun, Christopher (b.1951) / Private Collection

 

 

Another nominee for the South of England landmark was Christoper Le Brun

Although he was proposing a giant wing design, it is notable that the horse has become his hall-mark in large-scale paintings that contain semi-recognisable features, borrowed from classicism, symbolism, romanticism, and abstract-expressionism, among other sources

Please click here to go through to a lightbox of over 50 images of the mighty beast    
 

Man and horse jumping a fence, plate 643 from 'Animal Locomotion', 1887 (b/w photo), Muybridge, Eadweard (1830-1904) / Private Collection / The Stapleton Collection
Man and horse jumping a fence, plate 643 from 'Animal Locomotion', 1887 (b/w photo), Muybridge, Eadweard (1830-1904) / Private Collection / The Stapleton Collection


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