Details & Cataloguing

Modern & Post-War British Art


Dame Elisabeth Frink, R.A.
signed and numbered 6/9
height (including Artist's base): 42.5cm.; 16¾in.
Conceived in 1979, the present work is number 6 from the edition of 9.
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Waddington Galleries, London, where acquired by the family of the present owner and thence by descent


Dorchester, Dorset County Museum, Elisabeth Frink: Sculpture and Drawings, 17th July - 18th September 1982, unnumbered exhibition (another cast);
London, Royal Academy of Arts, Elisabeth Frink: Sculpture and Drawings 1952-84, 8th February - 24th March 1985, cat. no.73 (another cast).


Bryan Robertson, Elisabeth Frink Sculpture, Harpvale Books, Salisbury, 1984, cat. no.246, illustrated p.190;
Annette Ratuszniak (ed.), Elisabeth Frink: Catalogue Raisonné of Sculpture 1947-93, Lund Humphries, Farnham, cat. no.FCR276, illustrated p.141 (another cast).

Catalogue Note

In Horseman, Elisabeth Frink presents a moment of quiet and vulnerability. The sculpture contrasts dominant representational tropes for equine sculpture, which can be traced back to the Equestrian Monument of Emperor Marcus Aurelius (175AD), where horse and rider appear to be moving forward and celebrate the masculine military triumph of a specific individual. Lacking in regalia, medals, pomp or ceremony, Frink’s horse and riders are naked. The work should be understood as a portrait of the intimate, timeless relationship between man and horse rather than an aggrandising study of a chosen hero.

Sarah Kent observes that for Frink ‘horse and rider are a unit personifying the most desirable masculine qualities … reliance, intelligence, loyalty, free sensuality’ (Sarah Kent, ‘A Bestiary for Our Time’, quoted in Elisabeth Frink, Sculpture: Catalogue Raisonné, Wiltshire, Harpvale, p.67). Indeed, the horse and rider is a recurrent theme throughout Frink’s career with examples dating from one of her earliest recorded sculptures in 1950 through to the late 1980s. In common with her contemporaries, Reg Butler and Lynn Chadwick, Frink’s sculptures of the 1950s are geometric and demonstrate a sense of angst, perhaps unsurprising for those who had lived through the war years. Her later work by contrast is softer and is more physically and emotively tactile as a result of Frink’s process of hand working and layering her clay cast. Frink often spoke of her profound admiration for men. In each iteration of the theme of horse and rider she offers a different and positive representation of masculinity and the male psyche. Perhaps as a result of her riders being naked there is a sense of empathy and mutual cooperation between man and horse which places these works in stark contrast to her representation of restrictive macho identity in her thugs, bikers and mercenaries series. 

Horseman demonstrates Frink’s emotive and psychological investment in the subject, her interest in the ageless essence of the horse, and the changing relationship between horse and man. Her figures are at once individuals and can be understood as ciphers for the evolving symbiotic relationship between horse and rider.

Modern & Post-War British Art