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The J. Paul Getty Museum

Studies of Horses (after the Elgin marbles) Gm-25259401

Studies of Horses (after the Elgin marbles) Gm-25259401

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Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux (French, 1827–1875) In 1871, French sculptor Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux briefly lived in exile in London. It was likely then that he sketched these studies of horses' heads, based on sculptures from the east pediment frieze of the Parthenon, which is housed in the British Museum.

On the upper part of the sheet, Carpeaux drew the same horse's head from two different angles. This is a surviving fragment from a sculptural group called the "horses of Selene." (In Greek mythology, the horses of Selene, goddess of the moon, were described as tired from pulling her chariot at the end of their nightly journey across the sky.) Carpeaux's profile view emphasizes the exhausted horse's bulging eyes and open mouth.

Sketches on the lower part of the sheet represent a different sculpture from the frieze; a fragment from the "horses of Helios." (The horses of Helios pulled the sun's chariot and were said to be full of vigor, ready to greet the day.) Carpeaux sketched this rearing horse from a low angle, emphasizing its shapely, curved neck and upward thrust of its muzzle.

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