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London-based artist Zil Hoque captures horses’ powerful movements with his dramatic use of light and shadow. Hoque’s work can alternate between seeing horses’ sense of calm and also their physical capacity. His Fulcrum series is a study of explosive movement, with horses rearing on their back legs. But his Arabian (Study) embodies tranquility, an ethereal reflection of horses together in a herd.
Satoshi Dáte’s horse paintings also have ethereal elements. In his landscape Third Dartmoor, the silhouette of a horse emerges out of an idyllic landscape, where the borders between the dark hedges and the luminescent grass are blurred. The artist, who is interested in the gap between reality and unreality, sees horses as blended into the Dartmoor landscape, just as they have been blended into the history of painting.
Horses have been used in art for centuries to depict social or military status. But when George Stubbs began painting horses, he transformed the art form by expertly merging anatomical accuracy with the horse’s character and expression.
His ability to translate animal emotion into painting was on full display in his series of paintings showing a horse hunted by a lion. The Lion and Horse theme preoccupied the artist for over thirty years, during which he developed at least 17 episodes of the attack. In one, he captures the horse frightened at the sight of a lion emerging from the shadows. In two others, the viewer sees the lion in having captured the horse – its teeth sunk into the creature's back while the horse is twisted in terror, wide-eyed, embodying both fear and hopelessness.
At the same time, Stubbs was painting more sedate subjects for various aristocratic patrons. His Mare and Foals in a River Landscape is an iconic work, emblematic of horse paintings in this period. The years he spent studying horse anatomy was evident – from his mares’ sculpted muscles to his foal’s long, lanky legs.