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William Turnbull - Horse 1

William Turnbull

Horse 1

Bronze with a brown patina: 25(h) x 11.4(w) in / 63.5(h) x 29(w) cm
Stamped with monogram, numbered and dated on the reverse of the main form, lower right: 3/6 / 87

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Dundee 1922 - 2012 London

Ref: CA 140


Horse 1


Stamped with monogram, numbered and dated on the reverse of the main form, lower right: 3/6 / 87

Bronze with a brown patina: 25 x 11 3/8 x 29 ½ in /

63.5 x 28.9 x 74.9 cm

On a black marble base: 1 ½ x 9 ¾ x 31 in / 3.8 x 24.8 x 78.7 cm

Conceived in 1987 and cast in a numbered edition of 6





Private collection, France;

Private collection, acquired from the above in 2012



London, Waddington Galleries, William Turnbull: Sculptures 1946-62, 1985-87, October-November 1987, no.30, another cast illus. p.73

New York, Terry Dintenfass Inc., William Turnbull: Sculptures 1946-62, 1985-87, March-April 1988, another cast (catalogue not traced)

London, Waddington Galleries, Sculpture, October-November 1988,, another cast

Caracas, Galeria Freites, William Turnbull, October-November 1992, another cast p.16 (catalogue not traced)

New York, Barbara Mathes Gallery, William Turnbull: Sculpture, April-June 2002, another cast (catalogue not traced)



Amanda A Davidson, The Sculpture of William Turnbull, The Henry Moore Foundation in association with Lund Humphries, Aldershot, 2005, p.172, cat. no. 251, another cast illus.

Jon Wood (ed.), William Turnbull: International Modern Artist, Lund Humphries in association with Turnbull Studio, London, 2022, p.376, another cast illus. p.377



Writing about Horse 1 in the recently published, William Turnbull: International Modern Artist, Sean Scully describes this sculpture as his ‘absolute favourite’ by the artist, defining ‘Ancient Modernism.’[1] The equine subject, first explored by Turnbull in 1946, was inspired by the marble Horse of Selene, dated c.438-2BC, from the frieze on the east pediment of the Parthenon, on display at the British Museum, ‘a work that Turnbull saw while studying at the Slade and deeply admired. As he explores the theme of the horse and the horse’s head throughout his career, he draws upon his memory of this ancient piece to inspire his entire series of Horses.’[2]


Amanda Davidson goes on to explain, ‘Turnbull has created a number of works that are variations on the theme of the horse, the horse as a tool and tool objects. He was interested in working on the horse as ‘one of the fairly consistent subjects in sculpture’…Turnbull addressed the theme of the horse in the 1940s and 1950s and returned to it with a new series of works starting in the 1980s. Unlike the earlier sculptures, many of these later pieces made an explicit connection between the horse and the adze. The use of horses as transport, engine and military weapon has been a crucial foundation for many civilizations, including, until very recently, the western European world. Expressing an image of the horse as a tool highlights our historical practical dependence on this animal and simultaneously animates the shape of the inert object.’ [3]





Discussing the subject of the horse, Turnbull stated, ‘when I make horses’ heads – I have done them pretty well ever since the beginning – it’s always been with this idea of having a metaphoric quality. But also with only part of the horse represented, you didn’t feel the rest of the horse is missing. That has always fascinated me in sculpture where the part can become the whole.’[4]



Horse, 1954                                                        Large horse, 1990

Bronze, rosewood and stone:                              Bronze: 292 x 353 x 138 cm

113 x 71.8 x 27 cm                                             Yorkshire Sculpture Park





[1] Sean Scully cited in Jon Wood (ed.), op. cit., p.376.

[2] Amanda A Davidson, op. cit.., p.72. 

[3]  Ibid., pp.71-72.

[4] The artist in conversation with Colin Renfrew, cited in William Turnbull Sculpture and Paintings, Waddington Galleries, London, 1998, p.8.

Other Works By
William Turnbull:

William Turnbull - Small female figure William Turnbull - Mask