The depiction of horses is art is an ancient practice and subject matter. This majestic animal has been a part of the human history side by side for thousands of years and throughout its representation in art it has taken many forms. So what are those forms? What do we think of when we think of horses in painting? Is it the impressive statue? Is it the loyalty and the bond between animal and human? In order to answer any of these questions we have to look at the history of horses in art, and just to pose a challenge for my own research I have started from the beginning.
Horses has been depicted in art since the beginning of art itself. One of the earliest records is the cave paintings in Lascaux, discovered in 1940, in the south-western France dated almost 17 300 years back. For anyone more interested in the caves rather than my writing: http://www.lascaux.culture.fr/?lng=en. There is also imagery from Ancient Egypt and Grecian art featuring horse-drawn chariots although the horse appears less in early Byzantine and Christian art, this could be as a result of more religious motifs and focus; another example of how the church in its early history limited the range of subject matter in art, but that is a completely different research topic.
Some of the imagery, especially the cave paintings show horses as wild and untamed, in one aspect as they should be; free and majestic. Further on we see more of the horses having been handled by humans but both aspects show a respect and admiration for the animal.
Art took a leap forward in the 14th century with the beginning of the renaissance and many artists had more freedom in their work, as a result a string of famous artists such as Paolo Uccello, Albrecht Drurer, Raphael, Titian and Leornardo DaVinci chose to paint the horse. DaVinci as matter of fact was commissioned to create the largest equestrian statue in the world, however it was never completed.