Marino Marini is the peerless sculptor and artist from Tuscany who devoted much of his oeuvre to the theme of horses and riders — from the stylised archaic to the purely expressionist. Born at the start of the twentieth century, Marini was to witness — and subsequently become part of — a truly revolutionary period in the development of modern art. In Italy, this primarily affected the field of sculpture, where, in addition to Marini, Arturo Martini, Giacomo Manzù and Marcello Mascherini constitute what are known as the “great Ms” in modern Italian sculpting.
Marino Marini was born in 1901 in Pistoia, Tuscany. At the age of just 16, he was accepted into the Academy of Fine Arts of Florence, where he initially studied drawing and painting. It was not until five years later that he started to work with sculpture — often inspired by Etruscan art and by the sculptural works of Arturo Martini. In 1929, he moved to Milan where, at the remarkably young age of 27, he was named professor and principal lecturer at the Scuola d’Arte di Villa Reale in Monza.
Marini and his wife, Mercedes “Marina” Padrazzini, spent the period 1942 — 46 living in exile in Switzerland, where they became acquainted with a number leading figures in the world of modern art, including the sculptors Fritz Wotruba, Otto Bänninger and Germaine Richier, as well as Alberto Giacometti who was the same age. Marini and Giacometti grew to become close friends, and together they came to revolutionise international sculpture and to carve out a self-evident place for themselves in the history of modern art.
On his return to Italy, Marini settled in Milan, taking part in the xxiv Venice Biennale in 1948, where an entire room was set aside for his art. That same year, he met Curt Valentin, the legendary American art dealer, who invited him to New York. A large separate exhibition was arranged at the Curt Valentin Gallery, and this event cemented Marini’s great international reputation. A number of prestigious awards followed, including the grand prize for sculpture at the Venice Biennale in 1952, and several important exhibitions were organised around the world. Marini died in Viareggio in 1980, and is buried in the Cimitero Comunale in Pistoia.
Throughout his artistic life, Marini sought out early cultures in the history of art. In his youth he was fascinated by Etruscan art, which can trace its roots back to Tuscany, where he grew up. In this early culture, he found the core and origin of art, and a part of his life’s work would be to mediate and renew this cultural heritage. He also drew inspiration from Egyptian art and early Chinese art from the Tang Dynasty. The horse and rider are recurring themes in Marini’s oeuvre. The relationship between the two is an interaction based on mutual trust — and equally on a dramatic battle between them. In his work, he strove to define a stylised form of expression, closely related to the archaic, where poetic simplicity is permitted to dominate.
The work in question — Gentiluomo a cavallo — is from 1937 and constitutes one of the finest and earliest examples of the artist’s favoured theme of a rider on horseback. Only four copies of the bronze sculpture exist, and this is the first of the four. The artist’s own copy is on display in the Camera dei Deputati in Rome, the second previously formed part of a Norwegian collection, and the third makes up part of the collections of the National Gallery of Canada in Ottawa. The original plaster form is stored at the Museo Marino Marini, in San Pancrazio, Florence.
The sculpture in this auction has been in the possession of Folksam since 1955, when it was purchased as one of the decorations for the company’s head office in Skanstull in Stockholm, which was under construction at that time. The sculpture of the rider enjoyed pride of place in the entrance hall. The reason for the sale is a desire to renew art and to continue Folksam’s tradition for supporting artists who are active in Sweden.
For further information.
+46 8 453 67 56