Cave paintings are one of the earliest known forms of art created by humans, and there have been amazing discoveries of cave paintings featuring horses that date back thousands of years, including the Chauvet caves in France which are believed to be around 32 000 years old!
As well as being fascinating insights into our ancestors, many of these ancient paintings also give scientists and archaeologists ideas and clues about the relationship that humans had with horses, as well as the horses themselves.
From rituals and beliefs surrounding the horses and other animals that shared the land with prehistoric humans, to the colours and patterns of the horses that lived at this time, so much knowledge has been gleaned from these ancient paintings.
Both the ancient Greeks and the Romans often used horses in their art, and the modern horse statues like these bronze horse sculptures by Gill Parker all have beginnings in this period, as horses were also often represented in sculpture from.
Horses were a companion of the rich and powerful in ancient Rome, and there are many statues showing powerful leaders and Emperors sitting on their prized horses, and in Ancient Greece, horses were often linked to the gods as well as humans. By this time, horses were used by humans to help travel long distances, as well as in battle.
The Tudor period in Britain saw many representations of horses in art, as sport and hunting were popular in this period amongst the wealthy and the Royals. Hunting was enjoyed by rich Tudors and there are many paintings from this period of hunting scenes, as well as paintings showing horses pulling carriages. In a time before photography and when royalty liked to show off power and wealth, paintings were a great way of doing so.
In the 18th and 19th Century, there were many famous artists who painted horses, as well as many styles of painting. From the equine sports artists of the 1700s such as James Pollard and Benjamin Marshall, to the impressionist artist Edgar Degas who also painted some horse racing scenes during his career.
Of course, nowadays there are many beautiful pieces of art inspired by horses, and it is clear that they have been a source of inspiration to humans right back to the times when our ancestors painted on the walls of caves!