About This Artwork

Raymond Duchamp-Villon
French, 1876–1918

Horse, 1914

39 3/8 x 24 x 36 in. (99 x 61 x 91.4 cm)
Numbered, inscribed and dated, proper right of rear base: “6/6 R DUCHAMP-VILLON/1914”; inscribed, center of rear base: “Susse Fondeur Paris”

Gift of Margaret Fisher in memory of her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Walter L. Fisher, 1957.165

Writing in 1913 to his friend the American art historian Walter Pach, Raymond Duchamp-Villon declared, "The power of the machine imposes itself upon us and we can scarcely conceive living bodies without it." That year the French sculptor began his preliminary sketches and clay studies for Horse, progressively abstracting these initial naturalistic renderings of the animal’s anatomy into a coiled configuration of geometric forms suggestive of pistons, gears, and shafts. Optimistically embracing the clean aesthetic and dynamic potential of the machine, Duchamp-Villon reinterpreted the traditional subject of equestrian sculpture for the modern era. The artist completed only a small plaster of the final version of Horse; he died before he could realize his plans to enlarge and cast it in bronze. This was done by his brothers, Jacques Villon and Marcel Duchamp, in 1930–31.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, Signposts of Twentieth Century Art, October 27-December 7, 1959, no cat. no., pp. 20 (ill.), 21.

Publication History

Katherine Kuh, “Modern Sculpture—Additions and Plans,” The Art Institute of Chicago Quarterly, 52, 2 (April 1, 1958), cover (ill.), pp. 23-24, as The Great Horse.

Katharine Kuh, Signposts of Twentieth Century Art, exh. cat. (Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, 1959), pp. 20 (ill.), 21, as The Great Horse.

Simone Frigerio, Sculptures de Duchamp-Villon, exh. cat. (Galerie Louis Carré, 1963), p. 38, cat. 14, as Le Grand Cheval.

Alexandra Parigoris, “Truth to Material: Bronze, Posthumous Bronze Re-examined in Modern Sculpture,” in Sculpture and its Reproductions, ed. Anthony Hughes and Erich Ranft (Reaktion Books, 1997), pp. 136-137 (ill.).

H. W. Janson and Anthony F. Janson, History of Art, 5th edition (Harry N. Abrams, 1997), p. 846 (ill.), as The Great Horse.

H. W. Janson and Anthony F. Janson, History of Art for Young People, 5th edition (Harry Abrams, 1997), p. 553 (ill.), as The Great Horse.

Mary Stewart, Launching the Imagination: A Comprehensive Guide to Basic Design (McGraw-Hill, 2002), p. 277 (ill.).

Anthony Janson, et al., A Basic History of Western Art, 7th edition (Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006), p. 549, fig. 25-18 (ill.) as The Great Horse.

Penelope E. Davies, et al., Janson’s History of Art: The Western Tradition, 7th edition (Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007), p. 971 (ill.), as The Great Horse.

Ronald Alley, Catalogue of The Tate Gallery’s Collection of Modern Art: other than works by British Artists (Tate Gallery in association with Sotheby Parke Bernet, 1981), p. 193, as The Large Horse.

Bryan Granger, “Aaron Curry,” in Alexander Calder and Contemporary Art: Form, Balance, Joy, ed. Lynne Warren (Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 2010), p. 58, fig. 1 (ill.).

Laure de Margerie, “Raymond Duchamp-Villon,” French Sculpture Census (2014) http://frenchsculpture.org/en/sculpture/6313-horse?rk=163 (ill.), accessed Jan. 11, 2016.

Ownership History

Sold to the Art Institute of Chicago by Galerie Louis Carré, Paris, June 6, 1957 [Minutes of the Meeting of the Board of Trustees, Art Institute of Chicago, June 6, 1957].

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