Events | The Horse in Art – A Canter through the Ages

Cheltenham is the hub for many Cotswoldian equine meets. There is always a palpable fervour that emanates from the racecourse; particularly around the Gold Cup, which also coincides with St Patrick’s Day.

For many, the horse is the epitome of grace – sleek, dynamic and built for speed. For others, it is synonymous with kingship, aristocracy and courtly elegance. The High Renaissance masters, Leonardo et al, were intrigued by its internal anatomical complexities, and it became the paradigm for the young scientist on the dissection table. In art, it is a well-established genre, preoccupying the likes of George Stubbs and Franz Marc for much of their artistic careers.

Do join us, then, for ‘a canter through the ages’ as we explore the myriad of portrayals of the Horse in Art from antiquity to the contemporary.

Ellenborough Park Hotel is in a wonderful setting, overlooking Cheltenham Racecourse. Arcadia Education is holding an evening of fine food and an insight into Art History on Tuesday 17th February. The night includes:

Welcome Drink Reception

An Illustrated Lecture on the Horse in Art Across the Ages

A Three Course Dinner with Coffee

An Open Forum Discussion about Art following the Illustrated Lecture

£65 per person


Please book by calling 01242 545454

Or email


The horse is, for many, synonymous with grace and majesty. Equine illustration is a well-established genre in the Arts, having served the western European tradition from Classical times to the contemporary. Described by Edgar Degas as ‘this wonderful piece of mechanism,’ the horse as a subject, compelled George Stubbs to follow a tradition set out by the Old Masters Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo of anatomical accuracy via scientific dissection. Eadweard Muybridge sought to capture its transience in motion with a series of stop-action photographs, made possible in the 1880s via the development of the high-speed camera shutter. The equestrian portraits of emperors and kingship connote authority and leadership, and, in some cases, are tantamount to unashamed propaganda; J.L David’s portrait of Napoleon Crossing the Alps of 1801 is a case in point. Here the diminutive Corsican General rears up, elevated to the realms of Mars, God of War, yet the reality was that he crossed the Alps on a mule led by a Swiss peasant!

The horse has been used symbolically and allegorically in Art throughout the ages. This talks sets out to illustrate that journey in a setting that overlooks the Finishing Post at Cheltenham Racecourse; the heart of horseracing in the Cotswolds.