Private Collection (purchased at the above sale. Sold: Christie’s, New York, 6th May 2014, lot 39)
Purchased at the above sale by the present owner
Eduard Trier & Helmut Lederer, Marino Marini, Neuchâtel, 1961, another cast illustrated pp. 66-67
Franco Russoli, Marino Marini - pitture e disegni, Milan, 1963, another cast illustrated pl. 10
Jirí Setlík, Marini, Prague, 1966, no. 42, another cast illustrated
Herbert Read, Patrick Waldberg & Gualtieri di San Lazzaro, Marino Marini: Complete Works, New York, 1970, no. 267, another cast illustrated p. 204; the present cast listed p. 363
Carlo Pirovano (ed.), Marino Marini scultore, Milan, 1973, no. 273, another cast illustrated; the present cast listed
Hommage à Marino Marini, Paris, 1974, p. 34
Anna Nerse Szinyei, Marini, Budapest, 1977, no. 25, another cast illustrated
Marino Marini, Japan, 1978, no. 112, another cast illustrated
Marco Meneguzzo, Marino Marini - cavalli e cavalieri, Milan, 1997, no. 53, p. 218
Fondazione Marino Marini (ed.), Marino Marini. Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculptures, Milan, 1998, no. 338b, another cast illustrated p. 239
Having lived in Switzerland during the second half of the war, Marini returned to Milan in 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. Discussing his sculpture of this period, 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).
Piccolo cavaliere demonstrates the expressive shift of Marini’s art after the war. No longer satisfied with renderings of stoic figures on horseback, Marini, like many post-war Italian artists, invested his work with an emotional intensity that had not been present in his earlier sculpture. The shift was most pronounced in the Cavalieri series (fig. 1), in which the riders now seemed to freeze with terror or brace themselves for the imminent bucking of their horse. ‘My equestrian figures are symbols of the anguish that I feel when I survey contemporary events,’ Marini wrote about the development of these sculptures. ‘Little by little, my horses become more restless, their riders less and less able to control them. Man and beast are both overcome by a catastrophe much like those that struck Sodom and Pompeii’ (ibid., p. 60).
The polychrome plaster of Piccolo cavaliere is at the Fondazione Marino Marini in Pistoia. Several bronze casts are in museum collections including Nationalgalerie in Berlin and Fondazione Marino Marini.
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