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History of Horse Oil Paintings

Since their introduction as domestic animals, horses have been popular subjects in art throughout history. Many cultures and societies have viewed horses as symbols of spirit, power, liberty, and other dignified qualities. Even before the invention of writing, many cultures depicted horses, among other animals, in their artworks.
The association of horses with nobility has been historically widespread in Western civilisation. From the cave paintings of Chauvet to ancient Greek coins, images of horses have been present throughout European history. Nevertheless, horse oil painting as a style didn't become quite popular until the 17th and 18th centuries.

Around the 17th century, a group of painters assisted other artists in painting landscape oil paintings or scenes with animal figures. These artists, called animal painters, were skilled in depicting horses and other animals. Although their art helped other artists create realistic scenes, animal painters at the time were lower down in the hierarchy of genres - lower than landscape and higher than still life.
By the mid-19th century, animal paintings, especially horses and birds, became a popular theme in European art. At the term, the term "animalier" referred to artists skilled in realistic depictions of animals.
Today, artworks depicting horses and other animals are still quite common. Although the recurring themes and styles in oil painting have changed, the association of horses with freedom and spirit still prevails.

Different Oil Painting Themes with Horses

When looking for an original horse oil painting for sale UK, one should know what style is the best for them. Since there are different handmade horse oil painting styles that depict horses in different poses and themes, finding the perfect oil painting is a must.
The most common oil painting themes with horses are:
  • Anatomical drawings: Anatomical drawings focus on the bodily qualities of horses rather than their symbolic importance. Often used for academic purposes, such drawings detail horses' anatomy in the most accurate way possible.
  • Horse portraits: Some of the most beautiful horse oil paintings are portraits, as they capture horses' majestic physique and noble character. These paintings often depict racehorses and animals of significant historical figures.
  • Landscapes: Although classical oil paintings focusing on pastoral imagery usually don't portray living objects, horses and birds in a landscape painting aren't uncommon. Animal figures in landscapes usually represent the untouchedness and pristine magnificence of nature.
  • Historic paintings: Horses are a recurring element of elaborate battle scenes or portraits. In these paintings, horses usually represent various concepts, such as heroism, nobility or power. In classical cityscapes, on the other hand, horses play the role of a helper and domestic animal, accompanying humans in their daily chores.

Popular and Historical Paintings Depicting Horses

Jacques-Louis David, Napoleon Crossing the Alps, 1801

Jacques-Louis David was a prominent French artist of his time, harmonising the styles of both pre and post-Revolution French art. The artist's iconic series, Napoleon Crossing the Alps, is a five-painting collection depicting Napoleon on the back of a horse. Although each of the five paintings portrays the same scene, the details, including the horse's colour, differ.

George Stubbs, Whistlejack, 1762

George Stubbs was an English equestrian painter whose works often depicted horses with an anatomical focus. Although the artist had a myriad of fascinating works, Whistlejack truly deserves recognition due to its very individual nature. The painting contains only a racehorse rising to a levade on a plain background.

Franz Marc, Blue Horse I, 1911

German painter and printmaker Franz Marc was a noteworthy pioneer of German Expressionism. The artist's works often portrayed animals with his unique technique.
Blue Horse I strikes the audience with a strong contrast between colours. While it seems like a mere portrait of a horse, the figure in the painting actually symbolises the Blue Rider group, which used the image of the blue horse as a symbol of breakthrough and anti-materialism.

Rosa Bonheur, The Horse Fair, 1852-1855

Rosa Bonheur was a French artist known for her realist sculptures and works depicting animals. Her famous painting, The Horse Fair, gained worldwide recognition during its initial exhibition due to its strikingly realistic nature. The strong sense of movement and large size of the painting made The Horse Fair one of the earliest examples of proto-cinematic artworks.


How to Clean Horse Oil Paintings?

After you buy horse oil paintings online, you should learn how to clean and care for them. Due to their fragile nature, you should be careful cleaning oil paintings. Here are some tips to clean your oil paintings:
  • Use a smooth brush or cotton swab to clean the surface. Be careful not to pressure the canvas and clean a small part of the painting at a time.
  • Avoid using water, alcohol or baby oil to clean the canvas. You can dampen a piece of soft cloth and wipe the painting with it.
  • Take the painting to a conservator periodically.

How to Frame a Horse Oil Painting?

After you choose the ideal horse oil painting buy the perfect frame for your artwork. Since oil paintings with figures often focus on the subject matter, you should go with relatively plain frames.
Here is a step-by-step guide on how to frame your horse oil painting:
  1. Remove the frame's glass,
  2. Lay your frame down and place the painting within,
  3. Secure the painting by putting frame clips,
  4. Place a cardboard paper on the back of the frame as a dust covering,
  5. Install mounting rings to the back of your frame,
  6. Hang the artwork on the wall.

How to Protect Horse Oil Paintings?

Original horse oil painting for sale UK requires good attention to preserve its quality. Here are some tips to protect your oil painting from damage and discolouration:
  • Don't hang your artwork near fireplaces or any source of heat,
  • Avoid direct sunlight in your painting,
  • If you can't clean the painting yourself, take it to a conservator,
  • Clean the painting whenever it gets dusty,
  • Revarnish the painting every once in a while,
  • Occasionally examine for insect damage.

What to Consider When Buying?

If you want to buy horse oil paintings, you should consider a few details:
  • Always choose a professional sealer to get the finest quality products,
  • Buy art that makes you feel inspired and interested,
  • Purchase original products as their quality will be better than copies,
  • Quality comes with a price, yet consider your budget and avoid going over it,
  • Choose an artwork that complements your home's décor and colours.
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