Marino Marini - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale New York Sunday, November 8, 2015 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Collection of Ann Loeb Bronfman, Washington, D.C.
    By descent to the present owner

  • Literature

    E. Langui, Marino Marini, 1954, pl. 22 (illustrated)
    H. Lederer and E. Trier, Marino Marini, Stuttgart, 1961, pp. 76-77 (illustrated)
    A.M. Hammacher, Marino Marini, Sculptures, Paintings, Drawings, New York, 1970, pl. 165 (illustrated)
    P. Waldberg, H. Read and G. di San Lazzaro, Marino Marini, Complete Works, Milan, 1970, p. 363, no. 266 (illustrated)
    C. Pirovano, Marino Marini-Scultore, Milan, 1972, no. 272
    L. Papi, Marino Marini, 1987
    C. Pirovano, ed., Marino Marini-Catalogo del Museo San Pancrazio di Florence, Milan, 1988, p. 140, no. 128 (illustrated)
    G. Lovane, Marino Marini, Milan, 1990, p. 90
    M. Meneguzzo, Marino Marini-Cavalli e Cavalieri, Milan, 1997, p. 218, no. 52
    G. Carandente, Marino Marini, Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculptures, Milan, 1998, p. 235, no. 332 (illustrated)

  • Catalogue Essay

    Marino Marini’s expansive exploration into the equestrian sculptural format began in the mid-1930s and would continue through the rest of his artistic career. Marini’s horses were greatly influenced by the imagery of classical riders and medieval knights on horseback; however World War II dramatically affected his rendition of the equine figure. Simultaneously archaic and modern, and referencing both ancient Crete and Picasso, his horse statues are often strained and twisted in a state of frozen movement. Piccolo cavallo, 1950, sculpted in bronze, stands with four strong legs splayed out, almost pushing off the corner edges of the rectangular base upon which the animal is placed. The horse’s elongated and outreached neck is twisted back to look over his shoulder, as though to survey what might be coming up from the rear. This creates a dramatic counter-direction in the orientation of the animal figure. Alert and on guard, the horse seems frantically alarmed and threatened on the field of battle. Marini comments that his "equestrian statues express the torment caused by the events of this century. The restlessness of my horse grows with each new work, the rider appears increasingly worn out, he has lost his dominance over the beast and the catastrophes to which he succumbs are similar to those which destroyed Sodom and Pompeii.” (Marino Marini in N. Beretta, ed., Marino Marini, Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculptures, Milan, 1995, p. 14)

    In the present lot, the rider is absent, presumed to have perished in the heat of battle while the horse remains desperately alone. Piccolo cavallo’s bronze has a tawny finish that glistens across the strongly geometric facets of the horse’s body emphasizing the hand modeling and painting which make this example so elegant. Its form seems both constrained and liberated. The notable absence of the human element in this type of equestrian statue was explained by the artist: "Personally, I no longer have the intention of celebrating the victory of a hero. I would like to express something tragic, almost the twilight of humanity, a defeat rather than a victory. If you consider, one after another, my statues you will notice that each time the rider becomes less capable of mastering his horse and the animal becomes increasingly intractable and wilder instead of yielding.” (Marino Marini in P. Waldberg, H. Read, Marino Marini: Complete Works, 1970, p. 491)

    The isolation of the horse motif, seen without a human master or companion, holds even deeper meaning for Marini. The eventual obsolescence of the horse as the source of military power for conquering civilizations is hinted at in this statue. The wildness of the animal and the betrayal of companionship between man and horse is its prevailing theme, as Marini himself comments that “the whole history of humanity and nature lies in the figure of horse and rider in every period. In the beginning there was a 'harmony' between them, but in the end, in contrast to this unity, the violent world of the machine arrives." (Marino Marini in G. Guastalla, eds., Marino Marini, Pistoia, 1979, pp. 29-30)

Property from a Distinguished New York Collection


Piccolo cavallo

hand chiseled and painted bronze
19 x 22 3/8 x 16 3/8 in. (48.3 x 56.8 x 41.5 cm)
Stamped with the artist's initials "MM" on the base. This work is from an edition of 6.

$1,500,000 - 2,500,000 

Sold for $1,685,000

Contact Specialist
Kate Bryan
Head of Evening Sale
New York
+ 1 212 940 1267

20th Century & Contemporary Art Evening Sale

New York Auction 8 November 2015 7pm