Long before Bellerophon desired to tame the winged Pegasus of myth, horses have captivated man with their power & beauty. Right from prehistoric images, crude yet so vibrant, of the caves of Lascaux, the master has paid due homage to the servant who, until relatively recent times, shaped his destiny.
Most great artists have included horses, incidentally as mounts for great men. The shift in the horse being the subject of the portrait came with the animal’s ability to achieve fame, glory & earnings in races. The genre spawned an insult; to describe a horse as “no oil painting” was, and is, to raise eyebrows over his looks. The horse is no longer a beast of burden and essential usefulness, but a source of leisure and pleasure, a luxury item.
While the celebrities of another age would call on George Stubbs, horse owners nowadays call on specialist photographers, in this case Matthew Seed, whose work has included commissions from the Duke Of Westminster and the footballer Michael Owen.
The beauties here, owned by Harriet Charles, are more workman-like than the racers who would carry the skills of the aristocrat or the footballer; the grey Casey, a nine year old Irish Draft cross, & the bay Jack, a 14-year-old Belgian warmblood, are used for hacking and hunting. They are pictured in their paddock in West Sussex, in a classic pose of repose that owes much to George Stubbs, in front of a dramatic sky of which Gericault would be proud. But the medium is modern; they are, without any pejorative overtones, no oil painting.