About this artwork
The 19th century was marked by a general fascination with exotic lands, their literature, and mythology. In 1846, after reading his brother’s translation of a sixth-century Persian poem about Anahita, the goddess of the night, William Morris Hunt became intrigued with the myth, and he returned to the subject repeatedly throughout his career. Anahita was an important Persian nature deity, probably derived from Babylonian mythology, who was identified with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love. Although the poem describes Anahita fleeing the dawn in her chariot, Hunt did not actually include the deity in this relief. He probably created the relief as a study for his murals in the New York State Capitol, in Albany. The expressive sculpting of the figures—with the horses’ legs modeled fully in the round—captures the drama of the moment in three dimensions.
- The Horses of Anahita
- United States
- 49 × 74.5 × 31.1 cm (19 5/16 × 29 5/16 × 12 1/4 in.)
- Restricted gift of Brooks McCormick