Horse and rider sculpture of 1983.
Reasons for Designation
The sculpture of the Horse and Rider by Dame Elisabeth Frink, of 1983, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Artistic interest: a sculpture of high artistic and aesthetic quality, cast in bronze from plaster, subtly detailed and well-composed;
* Historic interest: as a cast of a piece originally commissioned by a commercial developer from the internationally renowned artist Dame Elisabeth Frink, and representative of a recurrent theme in her oeuvre;
* Group value: with a number of listed buildings in the immediate vicinity.
The period after 1945 saw a shift from commemorative sculpture and architectural enrichment to the idea of public sculpture as providing a primarily aesthetic contribution to the public realm. Sculpture was commissioned for new housing, schools, universities and civic set pieces, with the counties of Hertfordshire, London and Leicestershire leading the way in public patronage. Thus public sculpture could be an emblem of civic renewal and social progress. By the late C20 however, patronage was more diverse and included corporate commissions and Arts Council-funded community art. The ideology of enhancing the public realm through art continued, but with divergent means and motivation.
Visual languages ranged from the abstraction of Victor Pasmore and Philip King to the figurative approach of Elisabeth Frink and Peter Laszlo Peri, via those such as Lynn Chadwick and Barbara Hepworth who bridged the abstract/representational divide. The post-war decades are characterised by the exploitation of new – often industrial – materials and techniques including new welding and casting techniques, plastics and concrete, while kinetic sculpture and ‘ready mades’ (using found objects) demonstrate an interest in composite forms.
Horse and Rider by Dame Elisabeth Frink was completed in 1975. Frink (1930-1993) was born in Suffolk and attended the Guildford School of Art in 1947, and then Chelsea School of Art 1949-53. Her first major public commissions were the Harlow New Town Boar and the Blind Beggar and Dog in Bethnal Green, London. Her preferred sculptural technique involved modelling directly in plaster and then modifying the work with carving tools. Figurative sculptures of animals, particularly horses, and men dominated her work, earning Frink a national and international reputation. Five of Frink’s sculptures are already listed, including the Blind Beggar and Dog (Grade II*, 1958, National Heritage List for England no. 1031598): the Desert Quartet sculptures at Montague Shopping Centre in Worthing, Sussex (Grade II*,1989, NHLE no. 1391960) and the Crucifix for the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Liverpool she completed in the year of her death (the Cathedral is listed at Grade II*, NHLE no. 1070607). She was elected a Royal Academician in 1977 and awarded a DBE in 1982.
Horse and Rider was commissioned by Trafalgar House, and the first of three casts of the piece was erected near the site of the company's head office on Dover Street at its junction with Piccadilly in London. It was modelled in plaster in the Southwark studio Frink took on having returned from France in 1973, then cast in bronze. Frink described it as an ageless symbol of man and horse. The Piccadilly piece was listed at Grade II on 24 September 2015.
The cast in Winchester was erected in 1983. It was the last of the three casts and was initially loaned to Hampshire County Council by Elisabeth Frink’s agent, Leslie Waddington, for a summer open air exhibition in 1981. Hampshire organised three such artist-specific sculpture biennials in Winchester - in 1979 (William Pye), 1981 (Elisabeth Frink) 1983 (Henry Moore). Frink approved of plans to buy the sculpture as a permanent public work for Winchester, and she also approved its proposed siting. The sponsor of the 1981 biennial was Trafalgar House, thereby linking the Winchester cast with the original in London.
Horse and Rider sculpture by Dame Elisabeth Frink, commissioned originally by Trafalgar House in 1975; this cast of the piece was erected on the S side of the High Street, at its junction with Trafalgar Street, Winchester in 1983.
MATERIALS: bronze on a raised platform with brick paving and brick retaining wall.
EXTERIOR: at approximately 244cm high, the sculpture is on a rough base set into the brick paving. Both the horse and rider are roughly finished, their faces fixed to the NW in common purpose. The horse is in a walking pose; it has a lightly-stylized mane, a shortened tail and expressionless gaze. It has no saddlery.
The rider, a man, has no clothing and is barefoot. Sitting slightly askew astride the horse, his left shoulder is pushed back slightly allowing his arm to drop and his hand to rest casually against the horse’s left flank. His right arm is positioned against his torso, bent forward at the elbow with his hand placed on the horse’s mane. The muscles of both horse and rider are lightly but clearly defined.