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The large horse.
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Item Details
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The large horse.
Work Type
prints, engravings, works on paper
Image: 116mm (width), 165mm (height), Support: 116mm (width), 165mm (height)

As well as the human figure, horses played an important part in Albrecht Dürer's lifelong obsession with ideal beauty and proportions. Here he rivals masters of the Italian Renaissance like Pisanello, Donatello, Mantegna and Leonardo da Vinci. Although called "The Large Horse", this engraving is actually one of Dürer's smallest prints, the title referring to the way in which the animal's muscular haunches dominate the image.

It dates from the same year as the Small Horse engraving, not yet in the collection (1505). The monumental size of the horse's body, stable position and calm expression convey a balanced equine temperament. It is also a study in naturalism, as Dürer has used great technical precision to render the sinews in the legs, the texture of the coat, the musculature of the head and finely curled hairs of the mane and tail.

The extreme foreshortening of the horse's body, the flat architectural backdrop in the background and the raised ground on which he stands with his hind hooves, all increase the impression of muscularity and physical presence. While the horse is standing calmly and firmly on the ground, the warrior with him is depicted striding energetically. The column to the left is actually a pedestal for sculpture, reflecting Dürer's interest in antiquity.

This print demonstrates Dürer's mature graphic system, where he responded to the precision and clarity of engraving, describing both texture and space by varying the direction, density and arrangement of lines in controlled sections. Short flicks mediate the transitions from highlighted areas to tonal areas, while the darkest shadows are achieved by short lines laid between two longer ones. Elegant s-curves travel across the forms to create a sense of volume.

See: Victoria & Albert Museum, 'The Large Horse',

Dr Mark Stocker, Curator Historical International Art November 2016

Collection: Art
Gift of Sir John Ilott, 1962
Accession Number
Image and original data provided by Museum of New Zealand - Te Papa Tongarewa
Use of this image is in accordance with the Artstor Terms & Conditions
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