In the 1970s, Botero began to work on his bronze sculptures that rendered both human and animal figures into monumental beings. Among his inventory of bronze animal figures that includes birds, dogs, and cats, the horses are arguably the most majestic. An acknowledged lover of form and volume, Botero's Horse highlights the artist's study of these effects in the paintings of Renaissance masters. Perhaps most relevant is Botero's admiration for the work of the Quattrocento artist Paolo Uccello, whose paintings of epic battles, such as his Battle of San Romano (c. 1435-1455), afforded a view of the horse's body from various perspectives. Indeed throughout the three paintings, the horse remains a constant focal point of the image, placed advantageously in each composition. Inspired by Uccello's reverence for the equine form, Botero equally emphasizes its significance.
Like his other massive bronze works, Horse has a powerful presence that is underscored not only by the volumes of the animal's form but also by the scale. Monumental, the horse stands erect, completely still. In this example, as in others of the same subject, the rendering of the horse's legs is significant for the rhythmic succession of rounded volumes that are used to replicate the complex structure of these forms in nature. The head, nearly dwarfed by these powerful forms, extends the elegant line of the body forward and down.
This work becomes an important part of the history of equestrian monuments which originate with the Roman Empire, though carved and painted images of mounted horse-riders date to the Mesopotamian era. Botero's Horse rejects the singular focus on the mounted figure in favor of the horse itself as worthy of representation. The artist asks us to consider the animal's solid body as an example of extraordinary beauty and indomitable strength.
Rocío Aranda Alvarado, curator, El Museo del Barrio, New York