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Marino Marini (1901-1980)
Marino Marini (1901-1980)

Piccolo cavallo

Marino Marini (1901-1980)
Piccolo cavallo
signed with initials 'MM' (on the top of the base)
bronze with brown patina
Height: 10 ¾ in. (27.3 cm.)
Length: 13 in. (33 cm.)
Conceived in 1945
Laing Art Gallery, Toronto.
Acquired by the family of the present owner, July 1961.
H. Read, P. Waldberg and G. di San Lazzaro, Marino Marini, Complete Works, New York, 1970, p. 353, no. 211 (another cast illustrated).
C. Pirovano, ed., Marino Marini, Scultore, Milan, 1972, no. 215 (another cast illustrated).
G. Carandente, intro., Marino Marini, Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculptures, Milan, 1998, p. 197, no. 282 (another cast illustrated).

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Vanessa Fusco
Vanessa Fusco

Lot Essay

The Marino Marini Foundation has confirmed the authenticity of this work.

With its sleek contours, rounded forms, and powerful stance, Marini’s Piccolo cavallo elegantly demonstrates the artist’s mastery of the equine form, a subject that permeated his oeuvre for almost his entire career. His first forays into equestrian sculpture had come about in the late 1930s, with early examples focusing on the connection between the animal and an anonymous rider. As Marini’s explorations continued, he began to consider the horse as an autonomous subject, examining its muscular form in various different iterations, playing with proportion, shape, size, stance and attitude. The present work hails from this period of transition, and demonstrates the artist’s more condensed approach to the animal’s anatomy, as he shortens the horse’s torso and neck, employing reduced and rounded forms to create a squatter, plumper body. The horse’s hooves remain firmly grounded in the base, the weight of its form granting it a sense of massiveness and power as it stands to attention. While there is a sense of serenity to the horse, there is also a tension that seems to envelope its body—despite its stillness, the horse exudes a quiet energy, its muscles remaining taut, as if it is poised to spring into movement at any moment.
One of the most striking elements of Piccolo cavallo is its highly tactile, manipulated surface. Marini deliberately created a weathered and eroded surface in order to veil the work’s modernity, granting it a powerful sense of timelessness that echoes ancient sculpture. The artist’s passion for Etruscan art was fostered during his visits to Florence’s rich archaeological museum while a student at the city’s Academy of Fine Arts. He spoke about this fascination with the past in several texts, explaining: “Here in Italy, the art of the past is part and parcel of our daily life in the present. We live among the monuments of the past. I, for instance, was born in Tuscany, where the rediscovery of Etruscan art, in the past fifty years, has been something of great importance in contemporary local life” (quoted in D. Finn, Marino Marini, The Sculpture, New York, 1993, p. 16).

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