Impressionist & Modern Art / MARINO MARINI (1901-1980) Cavallo 28 1/8 in (71.4 cm) (height) (Conceived in 1942. This bronze version cast in an edition of 6)
US$400,000 - US$600,000
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Molly Ott Ambler
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MARINO MARINI (1901-1980)
stamped with the raised artist's initials 'MM' (on the top of the base)
bronze with grey-brown patina
28 1/8 in (71.4 cm) (height)
Conceived in 1942. This bronze version cast in an edition of 6
The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by the Fondazione Marino Marini.
Amalia de Schulthess Collection, Santa Monica (acquired directly from the artist).
Thence by descent to the present owner.
U. Apollonio, Marino Marini Sculptor, Milan, 1953 (another cast illustrated; titled 'Study for the Horse').
H. Read, P. Waldberg, & G. di San Lazzaro, Marino Marini, L'oeuvre complèt, Paris, 1970, no. 123 (cast with the round base illustrated p. 339).
C. Pirovano, Marino Marini scultore, Milan, 1972, no. 132 (cast with the round base illustrated).
M. De Micheli, Marino Marini, Sculture, pitture, disegni dal 1914 al 1971, exh. cat., Venice, 1983 (another cast illustrated p. 111; titled 'Piccolo cavallo').
G. Habarta, Marino Marini (1901–1980), Plastiken, Bilder, Zeichnungen, exh. cat., Munich, 1984 (cast with the round base illustrated).
G. Contini et al., Marino Marini, Milan, 1988 (plaster version illustrated p. 88).
J-M. Drot, M. Calvesi & E. Steingräber, Marino Marini antologica 1919–1978, exh. cat., Rome, 1991 (another cast illustrated p. 61).
D. Eccher (ed.), Marino Marini, exh. cat., Trento, 1992 (another cast illustrated p. 53).
G. Plazy et al., Marino Marini, Paris, 1993 (another cast illustrated pl. 2).
M. Moustashar, Marino Marini, Sculptures & dessins, Paris, 1995 (another cast illustrated p. 53).
E. Steingraber, Marino Marini: aus der Sammlung Marina Marini: Gemälde, Skulpturen, Zeichnungen, Munich, 1995 (another cast illustrated).
M. Meneguzzo, Marino Marini-Cavalli e cavalieri, Milan, 1997 (plaster version and another cast illustrated p. 74 & p. 209).
M. Bazzini et al., Marino Marini Sculture, dipinti, disegni, exh. cat., 1997 (another cast illustrated p. 33).
M. Beretta (ed.), Marino Marini, Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculptures, Milan, 1998, no. 173b (another cast illustrated p. 122).
B. Cinelli & F. Fergonzi (eds.), Marino Marini. Visual Passions, Silvana, 2017 (another cast illustrated p. 179).
Conceived in 1942, Cavallo embodies Marino Marini's genius of the equine form, an illustrious subject which permeates throughout the sculptor's career. The refined naturalism and delicate contrapposto pose of the present lot evokes classical sculpture, while the monumental form of the body and raw treatment of the surface indicates the artist's engrossment with new volumetric structures.
Marini's choice of subject stems from an enduring tradition of equestrian painting and sculpture that holds a prominent place in the discourse of Western art. Deeply inspired by the classicism of Etruscan art, Marini considered himself to be a descendant of the ancient civilization, stating: "My archaism, my Etruscans, there is not much to explain. My identity was born there, in that region. Those are my grandfathers. It's a civilization that still today surfaces on the ground, something that still feeds those who are alive. I feel extremely attached to my land, to this folk, archaic feeling so alive and intelligent. It's in my blood, I cannot get rid of it" (Marino Marini quoted in M. Manera (ed.), Marino Marini, sculture, pitture, disegni dal 1914 al 1977, exh. cat., Venice, 1983, p. 16). Grounded in this tradition, Cavallo emits a spiritual and mystical character symbolic of a timeless humanity.
Dating from the years of World War II, Cavallo was created at a point when Marini's style, previously serene, began to change dramatically into a more expressionist language. Whereas his earlier representations focused on the connection between horse and rider, by the 1940s his horses would embody a new individuality as their own autonomous subject. Marini examined the horse's muscular form in various iterations, playing with proportion, stance, attitude, shape, and size. Cavallo is a mere suggestion of movement, an implication of man's struggle to control the horse; despite the stillness which the riderless horse exudes, his muscles remain taught, and his weight anchors firmly to the base. This solid equilibrium would later transition by the late 1940s and early 1950s to a horse invariably attempting to dismount its rider, a transition described by Marini: "When you consider one by one my equestrian statues of these past twelve years, you will notice each time that the horseman is incapable of managing his mount, and that the animal, in its restlessness ever more riderless, comes more and more to a rigid standstill instead of rearing. I believe in the most serious way that we are heading toward the end of the world" (Marino Marini quoted in H. Read et al., Marino Marini, L'oeuvre complèt, Paris, 1970, p. 187).
Marini was actively involved in the finishing of his pieces before they left the foundry, often applying varying surface marks and paint. The highly palpable and deftly manipulated surface of the horse's skin might indeed be the most impressive element of Cavallo. The rich sense of texture, covered by cross-hatching, expressionistic and gestural lines, permit the play of light and shadow across its planes, and enliven the bronze with a powerful immediacy seldom achieved in the medium. This emotion stems from Marini's preference to model his majestic figures in plaster, rather than carve: "It is necessary," he says, "to preserve the emotion which generates an image. You cannot do so by posing a model, for then you get lost in details that weaken or discolor the original emotion. My sculpture starts from an impression often instantaneous, whose impact I try to preserve" (Marino Marini quoted in J. Soby, Marino Marini, exh. cat., New York, 1950, n.p.).
Exceptionally rare, the present work was conceived and cast during the artist's lifetime in an edition of six bronzes. From this edition, two casts reside with the Fondazione Marino Marini in Pistoia, while the four other casts are within private collections. The polychrome plaster version resides at the Museo Marino Marini in Florence. Whereas the previous locations of three of the four casts in private hands have previously been known – Curt Valentin Gallery (New York), Galerie d'Arte Moderne (Basel), Galerie Laing (Toronto) – the location of the sixth cast, the present lot, has been unidentified until now. Hailing from the collection of sculptor and painter Amalia de Schulthess, Cavallo is a remarkable discovery which Bonhams is honored to present to the international art market for the first time.