Lot 26
  • 26


500,000 - 700,000 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Marino Marini
  • Cavallo
  • stamped M.M.
  • bronze, hand-chiselled and painted by the artist
  • height: 47cm.
  • 18 1/2 in.
  • Executed in 1952 and cast in bronze in an edition of 6.


Galerie Wilhelm Grosshennig, Düsseldorf Private Collection, New York (acquired from the above in April 1963. Sold: Christie's, New York, 4th November 2004, lot 331)

Private Collection, Europe (purchased at the above sale. Sold: Sotheby's, London, 15th October 2010, lot 3)

Purchased at the above sale by the present owner


Kassel, II. Documenta: Kunst nach 1945, 1959, no. 5, illustrated in the catalogue


Eduard Trier, Marino Marini, Cologne, 1954, no. 19, illustration of another cast Helmut Lederer & Eduard Trier, Marino Marini, Stuttgart, 1961, no. 79, illustration of another cast

Giovanni Carandente, Marino Marini, Milan, 1966, illustration of another cast pl. X

Patrick Waldberg, Herbert Read & Gualtieri di San Lazzaro, Marino Marini, Complete Works, New York, 1970, no. 289, illustration of another cast p. 366

Carlo Pirovano, Marino Marini, Scultore, Milan, 1972, no. 300, illustrations of another cast pp. 110 & 164

Marino Marini, London, 1980, no. 142, illustration of another cast

Lorenzo Papi, Marino Marini - Impressioni di Lorenzo Papi, Ivrea, 1987, illustration of another cast

Carlo Pirovano (ed.), Marino Marini. Catalogo del Museo San Pancrazio di Florence, Milan, 1988, illustration of another cast pl. 140

Giovanni Iovane, Marino Marini, Milan, 1990, p. 91

Marco Meneguzzo, Marino Marini. Cavalli e cavalieri, Milan, 1997, no. 69, pp. 134-137

Fondazione Marino Marini (ed.), Marino Marini. Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculptures, Milan, 1998, no. 368b, illustration of another cast p. 257

Catalogue Note

Cavallo is a wonderfully dynamic variation on Marini’s favourite theme of horses and riders, depicting the isolated figure of the animal after it had lost its rider. With the front of its body collapsing while its hind legs stand firmly grounded and upright, the horse is captured mid-fall. The pronounced diagonal of its figure and the backwards move of its head and elongated neck reflect the drama and tension of the moment. In the years before and during World War II, Marini executed his horses with a certain grace and poise reminiscent of the elegance of classical sculpture. In the 1950s, however, this subject was charged with an energy that would reflect the anxiety and instability of the new era. In contrast to the tranquility of Marini’s horses of the 1940s, the present work indicates the artist’s move towards a more expressive rendering of this theme that characterised his mature work, whilst retaining the elegance of his earlier pieces. Carlo Pirovano wrote about this composition: ‘This was a sculpture that was certainly elegant in its conception, involving the refined interplay of rhythms that reflected those of a ritual dance. Marino joyfully flaunts all the artifices of an explicit manneristic skill that finds liberative impetus in the colourful veil of the surfaces. In the middle of the tormented phase of his artistic career that swept away his ideals of classical equilibrium […], Marino isolated one of the protagonists of the drama, the horse (he had already done this at the end of the Thirties, with the same symbolic implications), and, for an instant he gave it the role of the solo actor in what was virtually esoteric isolation’ (C. Pirovano in Marino Marini, Mitografia (exhibition catalogue), Galleria dello Scudo, Verona, 1994-95, p. 84).


In choosing the equestrian subject, Marini draws on a long established tradition in the history of Western art. In contrast to the often bombastic and politically motivated sculptures created by his predecessors, Marini’s horses and riders are the embodiment of a new, raw, elemental force. In the present bronze, the fragility of the animal and the backward motion of its upper body are strongly reminiscent of the horse in the centre of Picasso’s Guernica (fig. 1), lost in the chaos of the scene. Within twentieth-century art Guernica arguably had the most lasting effect on Marini, and his post-war series of Horses and Riders and the series of Warriors begun in 1956 owe much to his study of Picasso’s masterpiece. The stark, angular shapes of Marini’s figures achieve the same striking effect as Picasso’s black-and-white palette and here the fully stretched neck and turned head mimic the pose of the horse in Guernica. In both works, the horses appear to have lost or overthrown their riders, and on their own, without a human figure that dominates them, they acquire a timeless, primal quality.



Fig. 1, Pablo Picasso, Guernica, 1937, oil on canvas, Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid

This work is recorded in the archives of the Fondazione Marino Marini, Pistoia.