Marino Marini (1901-1980)
Marino Marini (1901-1980)
Marino Marini (1901-1980)
Marino Marini (1901-1980)
3 More
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's… Read more PROPERTY FROM AN IMPORTANT SWISS PRIVATE COLLECTION
Marino Marini (1901-1980)


Marino Marini (1901-1980)
signed ‘MARINI’ (on top of the base)
polychrome plaster
Height: 34 5/8 in. (88 cm.)
Length: 40 1/8 in. (102 cm.)
Executed in 1943; this work is unique
Karl von Schumacher, Schloss Mauensee, Lucerne, a gift from the artist, and thence by descent to the present owners.
L. Vitali, Marini, Florence, 1946, p. 36 (illustrated p. 37; dated ‘1945’).
E. Carli, ‘Marino Marini’, in Arte Moderna Italiana, no. 29, Milan, 1950 (illustrated pl. XXIX; dated '1944').
U. Apollonio, Marino Marini, Scultore, Milan, 1953, p. 34 (detail illustrated pl. 68; dated '1945').
H. Read, G. di San Lazzaro & P. Waldberg, Marino Marini, Complete Works, Milan, 1970, no. 166, p. 345 (illustrated).
C. Pirovano, Marino Marini, Scultore, Milan, 1972, no. 175 (illustrated).
M. Meneguzzo, Marino Marini, Cavalli e cavalieri, Milan, 1997, no. 23, p. 211 (illustrated).
Fondazione Marino Marini, Marino Marini, Catalogue Raisonné of the Sculptures, Milan, 1998, no. 212, p. 153 (illustrated).
Lorcano, Pinacoteca Casa Rusca, Marino Marini, March - August 1999, p. 204 (illustrated p. 205); this exhibition later travelled to London, European Academy for the Arts & Accademia Italiana.
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. These lots have been imported from outside the EU for sale using a Temporary Import regime. Import VAT is payable (at 5%) on the Hammer price. VAT is also payable (at 20%) on the buyer’s Premium on a VAT inclusive basis. When a buyer of such a lot has registered an EU address but wishes to export the lot or complete the import into another EU country, he must advise Christie's immediately after the auction. Please note that at our discretion some lots may be moved immediately after the sale to our storage facility at Momart Logistics Warehouse: Units 9-12, E10 Enterprise Park, Argall Way, Leyton, London E10 7DQ. At King Street lots are available for collection on any weekday, 9.00 am to 4.30 pm. Collection from Momart is strictly by appointment only. We advise that you inform the sale administrator at least 48 hours in advance of collection so that they can arrange with Momart. However, if you need to contact Momart directly: Tel: +44 (0)20 7426 3000 email:

Brought to you by

Veronica Scarpati
Veronica Scarpati

Lot Essay

This work is sold with a photo-certificate from the Fondazione Marino Marini.

‘In the end, my passion for the horse represented a personal research into a kind of visual architecture. The horse’s form is the opposite of man’s; the horse is horizontal, man is vertical… However, the concept changed over the years, and at a certain point what had been serene and tranquil became agitated and expressionistic.’ (Marini, quoted in Marino Marini: The Sculpture, New York, 1993, p. 78)

‘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.’ (Marini, quoted in M. de Micheli, 'Una scultura fra natura e storia', pp. 13-22, in Marino Marini, sculture, pitture, disegni dal 1914 al 1977, exh. cat., Venice, 1983, p. 16.)

With its sleek contours, rounded forms, and powerful stance, Marino Marini’s 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 its poised to spring into movement at any moment.

One of the most striking elements of Cavallo is its highly tactile, manipulated surface, as the horse’s skin is covered in a series of overlapping lines incised into the white plaster. Clustered into thick patches of cross-hatching, or scattered in sinuous sequences of parallel striations, these expressionistic, gestural lines enliven the material, imbuing the sculpture with a rich sense of texture and enhancing the play of light and shadow across its planes. Marini deliberately contrived this impression of a weathered and eroded surface in order to veil the work’s modernity, granting it a powerful sense of timelessness that appears to echo ancient sculpture. Combined with the delicate, fragmentary touches of vibrant red around the horse’s head, this links Cavallo back to the polychromatic, roughly surfaced sculptures that had survived from Ancient Greece and Rome. Marini 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’ (Marini, quoted in S. Hunter, ‘The Sculpture of Marino Marini,’ in Marino Marini: The Sculpture, New York, 1993, p. 16). Marini’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.

Executed in 1943, Cavallo was created during a time of intense creativity for Marini. The artist had remained in Milan during the opening years of the Second World War but, following the destruction of his studio amidst the fighting, the artist made the decision to move to neighbouring Switzerland. Writing about these first years in Locarno, Marina Marini, the artist’s wife, highlights Marini’s renewed productivity in this setting: ‘In 1943 and 1944, an atelier near Locarno was placed at Marino’s disposal, and how much work he did there! I used to assist him, dragging large containers of gesso into the studio and then helping him shape the gesso. How proud I was to be able to participate so directly in his work!’ (Marina Marini, ‘Introduction’, in Marino Marini: The Sculpture, New York, 1993, p. 7). During this period, Marini became acquainted with the Swiss diplomat, writer and journalist Karl von Schumacher, who had co-founded the periodical Die Weltwoche in 1933. In recognition of their blossoming friendship, the artist gifted Cavallo to von Schumacher, who installed the work at his home, Schloss Mauensee in Lucerne. During the artist’s lifetime, the horse’s ear came apart from the sculpture, and Marini was asked to travel to Lucerne to repair the damage. The artist willingly obliged, but during lunch with the family later that afternoon, the appendage fell away once again. After a quick survey of the damage, the artist decided that Cavallo should remain without his left ear going forward. Marini then wiped his hands on the body of the horse, leaving traces of the glue he had used to affix the appendage in the white plaster, the marks of which can still be seen today.

More from Impressionist and Modern Art Day Sale

View All
View All