Diverse $US30 million exhibition of horse art bound for Hong Kong

The exhibition includes an Alfred Munnings painting of a race start, entitled simply The Start.
The exhibition includes an Alfred Munnings painting of a race start, entitled simply The Start.

A $US30 million collection of horse art is now bound for Hong Kong after being on display in China.

The artworks were on show in Shanghai from October 21-30 to mark the grand opening of Christie’s new headquarters in the Ampire Building.

The private sales exhibition, which comprises more than 50 pieces assembled across its various divisions, will now go on display at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre from November 21-25. It will coincide with Hong Kong’s autumn sales.

The exhibition, entitled The Art of the Horse, comprises works from a broad range of collecting categories, from paintings, drawings and photographs to sculpture, jade and jewellery.

Christie’s says the works have combined value of more than $US30 million.

Exhibition co-curator John Stainton says equestrian art is a genre that transcends local markets and collecting categories.

“The works in this exhibition provide a feast both for those who love horses, and for those who admire great works of art.”

Christie’s chairman of Asian art, Jonathan Stone, who is also co-curator of the exhibition, said the works paid tribute to the enduring qualities of the horse, made manifest in art.

The exhibition includes an Alfred Munnings painting of a race start, entitled simply The Start.

Also included in this show is one of the most prestigious polo paintings, showing the celebrated American work, Devereux Milburn on ‘Gargantilla’, on a polo field, which was painted by Munnings in 1924.

Other notable works depicting sporting events include Kees van Dongen’s Champ de courses à Mandelieu (Alpes-Maritimes); and one of John Frederick Herring’s most exceptional works that captures champion race horse Priam at the Goodwood Gold Cup in 1831.

"Cheval se cabrant", by Edgar Degas.
“Cheval se cabrant”, by Edgar Degas.

The exhibition includes three works by Edgar Degas, one of which is Cheval se cabrant (right), an original wax model executed circa mid-late 1880s-1890s and cast from 1920-1921, which is widely considered to be one of the finest, most expressive and formally sophisticated of Degas’ surviving sculptural representations of the horse.

The artist had been studying and portraying rearing horses in his drawings from the 1870s to the 1890s, yet only one sculptural model of the subject survived, from which this particular work was cast.

Other sculpture highlights include Marino Marini’s Piccolo cavallo and Piccolo miracolo; Fernando Botero’s bronze Horse with Bridle; William Turnbull’s astonishing Horse II; and Britain’s most well-known contemporary equestrian sculptor, Nic Fiddian Green’s Still Water, the best-known model of which stands at Marble Arch in London.

Frederic Remington’s Hole in the Day depicts a sweeping view of mounted Native American braves on a hill at sunset; Untitled (Cowboy) (below) by Richard Prince, captures the image of the cowboy that is so familiar in American iconology; photographs by Tim Flach include Horse Mountain, November 2001; and Andy Warhol’s unique Polaroid portraits of Willie Shoemaker show the greatest American jockey of the second half of the 20th century.

The exhibition explores the role of the horse in both Western and Eastern art, and showcases some exceptional and varied representations of the horse in Chinese culture.

An exhibition highlight is Xu Beihong’s Horses Drinking. He was a founder of Chinese modern fine art and is especially known for his Chinese ink paintings of horses and birds.

"Untitled (Cowboy)", by Richard Prince.
“Untitled (Cowboy)”, by Richard Prince.

Other works include Ma Jin’s Resting beside a Running Stream, which demonstrates the artist’s fine and ingenious style; and a rare White Horse Jade Group from the Qianlong Period (below). This work presents a pair of horses in a unique composition, as well as displaying the Mughal style of embellishment.

A painting from the Mughal era attributed to Mukhlis, Grooms shoeing a horse, painted around 1585 to 1590, is a fine example of the growing taste for horse portraiture that spread through Mughal, India in the 16th century.

However, few paintings depict the unusual subject of the shoeing of a horse. The exhibition also includes five antiquities, stretching as far back to about 540-530 BC with An Attic Black-Figured Amphora, a rare and intact survival from this era, attributed to the group of Toronto 305.

Further objects that reflect the broad range of collecting categories include an illuminated manuscript, Le chevalier délibéré, by Olivier de la Marche and dated 1547. Renowned as the most vivid recorder of the court of Burgundy, de la Marche composed his chivalric version of the Ars moriendi, or Art of Dying.

Rare white horses in jade from the Qianlong Period.
Rare white horses in jade from the Qianlong Period.

De la Marche intended the vivid imagery of his poem to be given visual form and instructed fifteen miniatures. This is one of only five surviving manuscripts containing all 15 subjects listed in the author’s original instructions.

The Hong Kong exhibition runs from Friday, November 21 to Tuesday, November 25. Friday-Saturday, 10.30am to 6pm; Sunday-Tuesday, 10.30am to 6.30pm.


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  • November 2, 2014 at 4:46 am



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