Georgina Downey

When Dogs Meet Horses in Art

When Dogs Meet Horses in Art

As we see above, in de Vos and Wildens’ dramatic ‘Horse attacked by dogs’, dog and horse contact can end in disaster with both reverting to their raw primal selves and the humans ending in a heap. Each day, different versions of the above scenario occur thousands of...

The Gift Horse in Past and Present

The Gift Horse in Past and Present

The gifting of horses is an ancient practice in many cultures that continues today.  Historically, offering a horse is a sign of respect or allegiance and is done to seal relationships whether they be public, political, and personal. It has been a way of bonding...

Mares and Foals Through the Ages in Art History

Mares and Foals Through the Ages in Art History

Mares and Foals Through the Ages in Art History Foaling season is the ideal time to take a tour of the world’s most significant ‘mare and foal’ artworks through time. From the prehistory to the 20th century, Art Historian Georgina Downey, PhD, selects the classics and...

The Heavy Horse in Australian Art

The Heavy Horse in Australian Art

The Heavy Horse in Australian Art  From pulling whims in mines, to carting wool bales to promoting regional tourism, the heavy horse has captured the Australian imagination and, consequently, our art history is rich in pictures that show the contribution of these...

Bucket List of the World’s Best Horse Museums

Bucket List of the World’s Best Horse Museums

Bucket List of the World’s Best Horse Museums Horse museums are big players in the field of specialist museums. Given the cultural significance of the horse-human relationship and its long history, it is no surprise that particularly influential equestrian traditions,...

Forging Ahead: Farriery in the Art of the Horse

Forging Ahead: Farriery in the Art of the Horse

Forging Ahead: Farriery in Art Since the horse was first domesticated about ten thousand years ago, we’ve been worrying about their feet. The old saying among horse people, “No foot, no horse” is found in many slightly different versions across many cultures but...

Oh But He’s Perfect! My ‘70s Horse-mad Girlhood

Oh But He’s Perfect! My ‘70s Horse-mad Girlhood

Wish for a Pony by Monica Edwards was first published in England in 1947 and has subsequently run to many reprints. It explores the feeling of being utterly and totally enchanted by horses, and it does so truthfully, and respectfully and in a way that also outlines...

The Great Horse of the Middle Ages

The Great Horse of the Middle Ages

A heavy horse galloping with swinging mane and flowing tail, in ceremonial barding or armour, is a magnificent sight and one that reminds many of us of the drama and romance of the ‘great’ horse of the Middle Ages (476 AD – 1453).  The ‘Medieval’ horse is a vision...

Dressed for the Ride: The history of rider wear

Dressed for the Ride: The history of rider wear

Rider wear is an area of sports clothing where history, function and symbolism are uniquely interwoven. Simultaneously, the very essence of riding wear is to underscore the nobility of the horse itself, not exceed it, or draw attention away from it.1 Therefore, riding...

The Divine Marwari Horses of the Mughals

The Divine Marwari Horses of the Mughals

The Divine Marwari Horses of the Mughals In the Mughal Court, the only horse fit and noble enough for both battle and parade was the ‘divine’ Marwari. A dynasty that ruled most of India during the 16th and 17th centuries the Mughals invaded from Central Asia and...

Legacies of Strength: Aboriginal Stockwomen

Legacies of Strength: Aboriginal Stockwomen

Legacies of strength: Aboriginal Stockwomen. From the point of first contact with European explorers and pastoralists, Indigenous Australians used art to better understand the strange new animals that were appearing on their country. The first horses they saw would...

The Unicorn’s Appeal

The Unicorn’s Appeal

…And “the Loveliest of All” was the Unicorn! In this article, we explore the unicorn; from its distinctly not-so-cute past in myth, art and history to its sparkly, commodified image today. One characteristic of the unicorn that rings true for today’s horse people lies...

Legends of the Bush

Legends of the Bush

The horse in Australia has played a central role in the formation of our national identity. The distinctive Australian values of mateship, toughness, anti-authoritarianism, and concern for the ‘battler’ were carved out in the presence of horses. From the ponies who...

The Riding House

The Riding House

This month we explore the history of the indoor arena or ‘riding house’ to use its original name. Some might consider that indoor arenas are not necessary in Australia because of our climate, but this would be to overlook the Northern hemisphere influences on...

Ancient Connections

Ancient Connections

Ancient Equestrian Connections By reflecting on and studying the beautiful artworks and writings of the ancient Greeks, Dr Georgina Downey discovers that many of our horse-management practices have remained unchanged, handed down over the centuries and are still being...

The Mystery of Marengo

The Mystery of Marengo

The life of a war horse in Napoleon’s Grande Armée was hard, dangerous, and usually short. Nearly a quarter of a million French cavalry horses died on campaign between 1805 and 1815. Most of these were killed during his disastrous invasion of Russia in 1812. Tens of...

The Straw Ride

The Straw Ride

The Straw Ride Painter Lucy Kemp-Welch was commissioned, in 1918, to record the remarkable contribution of civilian horsewomen to the war effort. The Straw Ride reminds us that this was the era of ‘First Wave’ women’s suffrage and evokes the spirit of ‘warrior-women’....

George Morland: Hack or Hero?

George Morland: Hack or Hero?

Do horses also look like their owners? George Morland: Hack or Hero? It’s true that some people do end up looking like their dogs; but like their horses too? Above, we see a portrait of a favourite elderly white rescue horse and, above right, a sketch of the artist...

Landseer’s ‘Pretty Horse Breaker’

Landseer’s ‘Pretty Horse Breaker’

Landseer’s ‘Pretty Horse Breaker’ Edwin Landseer’s The Shrew Tamed (also known as The Pretty Horse Breaker), on first sight, seems to be a study in interspecies harmony, affection and trust. It’s a beautifully serene work, and Landseer’s handling of the paintwork in...

Stubbs’ Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath

Stubbs’ Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath

Stubbs’ Gimcrack on Newmarket Heath Few racehorses have been as masterfully painted in their winning moment as ‘Gimcrack’. Here, Stubbs paints this fabled grandson of the Godolphin Arabian in front of a Newmarket ‘rubbing house’, or race-day stable, flanks heaving,...

A Royal Expectation

A Royal Expectation

A Royal Expectation Welcome to ‘Horses and People in Art’, a regular column where we explore the history of horsemanship in art through the lens of rider position, equitation science, horse management and key horse world issues. Velazquez’s Equestrian Portrait of...

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