Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941)
Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941)

'Mares of Diomedes'

Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941)
'Mares of Diomedes'
inscribed 'Gutzon Borglum/1904' (on the base)
bronze with brown patina
21 in. (53.3 cm.) high
W. Craven, Sculpture in America, Cranbury, New Jersey, 1984, pp. 489, 510, 62 inch version illustrated.
A.T. Gardner, American Sculpture: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Greenwich, Connecticut, 1965, pp. 101-2, 62 inch version illustrated.
E.L. Hubbard, Los Angeles Examiner, April 26, 1915.
R. Hughes, Appleton's Magazine, December 1906, vol. .8, p. 716.
C. de Kay, The New York Times, July 10, 1904.
J.W. McSpadden, Famous Sculptors of America, 1927.
B.G. Proske, Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture, Murrell's Inlet, South Carolina, 1968 edition, pp. 63-4.

Lot Essay

"Horses race forward, bodies pressed close together. All are wildly excited, ears laid back, nostrils distended, and mouths open gasping for breath. The bodies are truthfully modeled without insistent detail to give a dynamic sense of rushing movement, enhanced by the rhythmic play of muscles and the backward flow of loose masses in the manes and tails.

"...[The present work was] modeled in Borglum's New York studio in 1904. The galloping troop rises with a wavelike swell as it surges over a hill, the lifted head of the rearing horse forming the crest. The fore part of the lead horse is completely in the air, forelegs doubled in a gallop. At the rear, where they struggle up a slope with bodies to the ground, the mass is solider. The dramatic sweep of the whole is accomplished by variety in individual action and extraordinary virtuosity in rendering horses in motion.

"Borglum had long been trying to convey the sensation of rapid motion given by a horse at full gallop. He hit upon the idea of grouping a number of horses to intensify the impression of pounding hoofs and headlong speed. "I have utilized a subject from the West--," he said, "the stealing of horses. The method is, mounting a tractable horse, entering the band, and riding about quietly until the band follows--then leading them away. I stripped the horseman of garments, both to delocalize him and also to show the play of a fine nude figure on a horse. The name is a convenience-the motive of the group, mainly intense controlled action." By extension of the idea, the work also symbolized the power of the human mind over brute force. Recalling the Labors of Hercules and his taming of the man-eating mares of Diomedes, someone gave the work the title by which it is known. The original group, cast in bronze by the Gorham Company and exhibited in their Fifth Avenue window, was greeted with acclaim and awarded a gold medal at the Saint Louis Exposition. It was bought by James Stillman and presented to The Metropolitan Museum of Art, where for many years it had a place of honor at the foot of the main stairway." (B.G. Proske, Brookgreen Gardens Sculpture, Murrell's Inlet, South Carolina, 1968 edition, pp. 63-4.)

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