Picturing Horses

Welcome to another edition of “Picturing…” You don’t have to be an accomplished equestrian to see that horses are magnificent creatures—majestic, fierce, gentle, wise, often all at once. They are a staple throughout art history in general, as well as in fantasy illustration. Putting this collection  together, it was tough to know when to stop building; the amount of fantastic drawing and painting about horses seems limitless.

Above: Scandinavian folklore painter John Bauer. I have Charles Vess to thank for introducing me to Bauer’s wonderful fantasy work—he is now an all-time favorite of mine (both Charlie and Bauer.)


Duel in the Kulikovo, by Russian artist Michael Avila.

Michael Avila


Ivan Bilibin painted many horses while illustrating various Russian fairy tales.


I started out strong with the Russian painters; here’s Viktor Vasnetsov’s somber A Knight at the Crossroads.


Greg Manchess’s Cheyenne Medicine Hat, a children’s book about wild mustangs by author Brian Heinz.

Greg Manchess


I could have included hundreds of great Western paintings, but with limited space, decided to let this Frank Tenney Johnson speak for the genre.


Frank Craig’s Joan of Arc. I would love to see this in person. Beyond the inherent drama of the piece, it’s interesting to note how the movement of the lances directs the frenetic action of the horses…


Rosa Bonheur’s The Horse Fair is one of my favorite paintings. I’m lucky enough to live near New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it lives—it’s an enormous piece with perfect light and movement. If anything depicts the power and grace of a horse, it’s this painting.


A colorful and joyous royal wedding scene by Paja Jovanovic.


Frank C. Papé, an English artist, taking on the Russian folk tale “Falcon the Hunter.”

Frank C. Pape


Gustav Klimt’s The Golden Knight. One of the world’s most beloved painters, known for his extensive use of patterns.

Gustav Klimt, The Golden Knight


Strength and delicacy in Michael DumasTrust.


Honoré Daumier with Don Quixote’s slow and faithful Rocinante.


Gustave Dore with Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

Gustave Dore


Techno visual-performance artist Android Jones.


Edgar Degas, getting out of the ballet studio every now and then, did a number of great paintings of race horses.


Sam Weber’s mechanical horse…


….and Lars Leetaru’s mechanical horse.


I don’t know how this is attributed but I must have been seen it at the Metropolitan Museum’s Cloisters. Even as a kid, I loved the color and pageantry of it.


The always stylish and graceful Kay Nielsen.

Kay Neilsen


Jillian Tamaki from the Folio Society’s Irish Myths and Legeends.

Jillian Tamaki


One of the famous unicorn tapestries at the Cloisters


Viktor Koen’s steampunk horse, for George Mann’s novel The Immorality Engine.


I love the posterized style of Norbertine Bresslern-Roth’s animal paintings.


Petar Meseldzija, a contemporary European illustrator with a classical style.

Petar Meseldzijaart


Charles Vess with an interior drawing for The Wheel of Time series.


Andrej Dugin and Olga Dugina, a pair of absolutely brilliant children’s book illustrators.


Brad Holland’s always dreamlike, bold shapes, perhaps inspired by our first illustrators.


Frank Frazetta’s Death Dealer, arguably one of the most famous fantasy illustrations of our day.

Frank Frazetta


Another from Degas: Race Horses at Longchamp.

Degas Race Horses


Howard Pyle, the father of American illustration.


From The Boy’s King Arthur by N. C. Wyeth (a student of Pyle’s.)


Alice and Martin Provensen. I think I love everything they’ve ever drawn and painted.


Tristan Elwell and his dramatic cover for Ashling.


Mark Summers, known for his Barnes & Noble author portraits.


Twin Italian illustrators Anna and Elena Balbusso and their Song of Roland for the Folio Society.


Victo Ngai, a rising superstar in illustration (and frequent contributor to Tor.com.)


Wesley Allsbrook


George Bellows, more famous for his depictions of boxing, shows us a sweet and content horse on a hill. 


I stumbled onto the wonderful book art of Carl Otto Czeschka at an antiquarian book fair. I love his bold graphics.


I love the oddly constrained world that Chris Silas Neal creates across his images.


Edmund Dulac illustrating Edgar Allan Poe’s “Eldorado.”

Edmund Dulac, Eldorado


Alex Kanevsky, I love his razor thin surfaces.

Alex Kanevsky


Jaime Jones, a great concept artist.


Arthur Rackham illustrating Wagner’s The Rhinegold and the Valkyrie. Here we see Odin’s eight-legged horse, Sleipnir.


Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec’s Equestrienne (At the Cirque Fernando). If you are in Chicago, go check it out at the Chicago Art Institute.


Odilon Redon, a learned centaur.


Alan Lee, one of the premier Tolkien artists, depicting the Ringwraiths’ horses.


Zdzislaw Beksinski, always painting the stuff of nightmares.

Zdzislaw Beksinski


Superb illustrator-turned-gallery painter Mark English.


Richard Anderson derives a ton of strength and movement from his angular brush strokes in this piece.


Part of Greg Ruth’s 52 Weeks project, in which he created a quick, self-assigned drawing every week for a year. For those that followed along, the drawings were amazing (no less so the mini essays that went with them).


Raymond Swanland, horses ready for battle in Glenn Cook’s Book of the South.

Raymond Swanland


Going back to the beginning, a Lascaux horse.

Lascaux horse


Allen Williams, one of my favorite obsessive drawers.


Jacopo Bellini, from a painting that I know about only because of the wonderful Milton Glaser documentary To Inform and Delight.


I’m no fan of Brave but, man, was that horse fantastic. Here’s a sample of Carter Goodrich’s concept art for it.


Sergio Toppi, one of the comics industry’s best.


Victor G. Ambrus’s loose and free linework.


J. C. Leyendecker and Robert E. Lee. How he can be so precise without ever looking labored is beyond me. (Bragging rights: the study for this is hanging in the living room.)


Stephen Hickman did a great series of Middle-earth paintings for a Tolkien calendar.


Greg Manchess painted 60 covers for Louis L’Amour’s books; this one for Milo Talon.

Greg Manchess


The superb caricaturist Heinrich Kley. In much of his work he mixed fantasy themes with contemporary political issues of the early 1900s.


I love the simple shapes in this drawing from Nika Goltz.


Another from Heinrich Kley.


I’ve never shown sculpture in these posts before, but Beth Cavener-Stichter (besides being one of my favorites) is a very painterly sculptor.


Art deco Musketeers from Charles Verschuuren.


N. C. Wyeth’s Launcelot and Guenevere.


And a very small horse in a very pretty landscape from Allen Song.


There are two great painters names John Collier. This is the elder of the two, showing us everyone’s favorite rider, Lady Godiva.


Another one from concept artist Jaime Jones. You can just feel the morning light in this one.


Swiss symbolist painter Arnold Bocklin with the horsemen of the apocalypse.

Arnold Bocklin


John Picacio’s Elric.


Alfonnse Mucha is known for his poster work, but to tell you the truth, I like his painting even more.


I thought we’d end things as we began them, with another from John Bauer.

John Bauer

Irene Gallo is the Art Director for Tor Books.


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