Dame Elisabeth Frink, R.A.
Horse maquette, 1980
Presented by H.M. Queen Elizabeth II on behalf of Goodwood Racecourse to Edwin McAlpine, Baron McAlpine of Moffat (1907 – 1990), July 1980; and by descent.
Robertson, Elisabeth Frink Sculpture: Catalogue Raisonné, Salisbury, 1984, p. 193, no. 255 (illus.)
Ratuszniak, Elisabeth Frink: Catalogue Raisonne of Sculptures 1947-93, London, 2013, p. 146, no. FCR289 (illus.)
‘I am quite interested in horses, not obsessed with them in a social sense, but interested in the form that they embody, in their wild state and their relationship with man.’ Elisabeth Frink
This work is the first cast of Dame Elisabeth Frink’s maquette for Horse (FCR290), one of the artist’s finest and most significant equestrian sculptures, commissioned by the Earl of March for Goodwood Racecourse in Sussex.
Frink’s affection for horses developed during a childhood spent in the Suffolk countryside. Her father was a skilled horseman, a capable polo player and an amateur jockey, so it was not surprising that Elisabeth began to ride aged 4. Her enthusiasm for horses grew following her 1967 move to the South of France, where she observed wild horses living in the marshes of the Camargue. It was there, in the late 1960s, that Frink began to sculpt horses, and she continued to explore the motif for the remainder of her career. Frink later settled in Dorset following her marriage to Alex Csáky in 1974, and established her studio in a setting surrounded by domesticated and wild animals, including her beloved horses.
In her 1980 sculpture Horse and its preparatory maquette, Frink focuses on the agility and animated spirit of the racehorse, emphasising its muscular body, long neck and delicate legs, which she depicts in motion. Frink’s preferences for rough, deeply-distressed surfaces arose from her observation that English light is softer and more diffuse than the light in continental Europe, and she sought to achieve an animated surface on works intended to stand outdoors. According to record, Frink was delighted by the comments of two Goodwood employees, who observed upon viewing Horse in situ: ‘He’s so alert, isn’t he?’
Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was a lifelong racegoer with a passion for equestrian pursuits. Having first visited a racing stable with her father, George VI, aged 16, the Queen remained fascinated by horses for the rest of her life: she bred them, rode them and enjoyed considerable success as an owner of racehorses, winning four of the five British Classic Races (and missing only the Epsom Derby). The Queen regularly visited the Royal Stud at Sandringham in Norfolk, and could often be seen riding one of her ponies in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
The Queen’s connection to Goodwood was well established by the 1950s, when she visited so frequently that horseracing at Goodwood was referred to as ‘the sport of Queens’. Her late Majesty had a number of winners at Goodwood over the years, among them Apprentice (1965) and Gaulois (1966), both of whom won the Goodwood Cup. This maquette was presented by the Queen to Robert Edwin McAlpine, Baron McAlpine of Moffat, a construction magnate, racehorse breeder and stud owner, at Goodwood, and has remained in the Moffat family ever since.