Details & Cataloguing

Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale


Marino Marini
1901 - 1980
stamped with the initials M.M. and numbered 0/6 and 1/8
height: 57.5cm.
22 5/8 in.
Conceived in 1951-52 and cast in bronze in an edition of 9.
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World House Galleries, New York
Alice K. Bache, New York (acquired from the above. Sold: Sotheby Parke Bernet, New York, 19th October 1977, lot 79)
Purchased at the above sale by the late owner


(possibly) New York, World House Galleries, Sculpture Annual - 1959, 1959, no. 46, illustrated in the catalogue


Alberto Busignani, Marino Marini, Florence, 1968, no. 18, illustration of another cast
Herbert Read, Patrick Waldberg & Gualtieri di San Lazzaro, Marino Marini, Complete Works, New York, 1970, no. 294, illustration of another cast p. 368
Carlo Pirovano, Marino Marini Scultore, Milan, 1972, no. 296, illustration of another cast
Marino Marini, Japan, 1978, no. 154, illustration of another cast
Marco Meneguzzo, Marino Marini - cavalli e cavalieri, Milan, 1997, no. 72, p. 223
Fondazione Marino Marini (ed.), Marino Marini, Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculptures, Milan, 1998, no. 366, illustration of another cast p. 255

Catalogue Note

A dominating theme of Marini’s art, the subject of horse and rider underwent a number of stylistic transformations throughout decades, from the simple, rounded forms of the early 1940s, to the highly stylised, almost abstract manner of his late works. With its solid forms, the pronounced vertical and horizontal lines, and the figure of the rider firmly seated on the horse’s back, Piccolo cavaliere recalls the calmer, more harmonious renderings of the theme, which culminated in the famous wooden sculpture The Town’s Guardian Angel of 1949-50, and its monumental bronze variant in the Peggy Guggenheim Collection, dominating Palazzo Venier dei Leoni in Venice (fig. 1).


Having lived in Switzerland during the second half of the war, Marini returned toMilanin 1946, and immediately started working, developing some of his favourite themes into highly sophisticated and refined images. His role as a leading sculptor on the Italian as well as international scene was reaffirmed at the Venice Biennale of 1948, where he was elected as one of the jury members, and assigned an exhibition room for his work. His renderings of the horse and rider theme during this period are characterised by a sense of tranquillity, with both man and animal appearing unperturbed, unlike the more dramatic, falling figures that dominated Marini’s sculpture of the 1950s. In the present composition, an impression of balance is created by the pronounced horizontality and solidity of the horse’s figure, upon which the rider is firmly seated, his outstretched arms emphasizing the sense of equilibrium.


Carlo Pirovano wrote: ‘When he returned to Milan after the war […], Marino began to work again with great enthusiasm. He seemed to be possessed by an uncontrollable creative drive that expressed itself not so much in the formulation of new themes or the proposal of refined narrative motifs as in the sophisticated formal variation of compositions that were apparently banal and predictable in their subject matter’ (C. Pirovano in Marino Marini, Mitografia (exhibition catalogue), Galleria dello Scudo, Verona, 1994-95, p. 52). Writing about Marini’s horse and rider imagery from this period, Pirovano further observed: ‘The interaction between the two protagonists increased in intensity, with ever-closer links creating interdependence that was emotional rather than merely functional (in the sense of the use of the animal simply as a means of transport). This merging into a single entity accentuated, first and foremost, the metaphorical aspects, while on a formal plane it caused the monocentric equilibrium to slowly deteriorate, leading to a dynamic explosion, with all its excitement and anguish, that was to be the dominant theme of Marino’s work of the Fifties’ (ibid., p. 54).


Other casts from this edition are in the Fondazione Marino Marini in Pistoia, Museum of Art in San Diego and Bridgestone Museum of Art in Tokyo.



Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale