Horse and Rider
Signed Frink, and numbered 8/9
Bronze, with a mid brown patination
Height: 13 1/2" (34 1/4 cm)
Conceived in 1974, cast after 1992
One of the leading lights of the post-war school of British sculptors, Elizabeth Frink achieved commercial success at a young age when, in 1952, Beaux Arts Gallery in London held her first major solo exhibition and the Tate Gallery purchased one work, entitled Bird. This marked the beginning of a highly-acclaimed career in which Frink was awarded Honorary Doctorates by the University of Surrey (1977), Open University (1983), University of Warwick (1983), University of Cambridge (1988), University of Exeter (1988), University of Oxford (1989) and University of Keele (1989). She also received official recognition, being awarded the CBE in 1969, and in 1982 she was created Dame of the British Empire.
Frink’s work is characterised by her scarred surfaces created by repeatedly coating an armature with wet plaster; each coating is distressed and broken, eliminating detail and generalising form.
Horse and Rider by Elizabeth Frink was originally commissioned in 1974 by de Beers as the trophy (complete with diamonds) for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes—Britain’s most prestigious annual open-age flat race, which takes place at Ascot in July. Frink’s affection for horses stemmed from her country childhood in Suffolk; her father was a brilliant horseman, a good polo player and an amateur jockey.
In an interview with her friend Laurie Lee, Frink said: ‘I don’t like reality in art—I have reality enough when I’m outside. I want to create my own fantastic forms based on my observation of human and animal form ... I am interested that men and animals are confronted with combat in their lives, some sort of menace, and must defend themselves. Not only in war, but in the whole business of living ... I admire strength under stress.’
The full-scale version of this work is now displayed on New Bond Street, London.