The subject of horses and riders preoccupied Dürer for most of his career and features in one of his greatest prints, Knight, Death and the Devil (lot 99).
In the years leading up to 1504 and the engraving Adam and Eve (lot 61), Dürer had studied and worked extensively on the proportions of the human body. Having mastered the ideal nude, his interest turned once again to horses and this and the following lot are studies on the proportions of two different types of horse.
While the Small Horse represents the ideal of the small and elegant race horse of oriental origin, the Large Horse represents the Northern European war horse. Although the central subject of the two prints is clearly the physical appearance of the animal, various mythological and allegorical interpretations have been suggested, including the identification of the Small Horse as Bucephalus, the legendary horse of Alexander the Great.