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Weathervane: Horse

1875-1900
Origin: America, possibly Rochester, New Hampshire
Overall (with base): 17 7/8 x 20 1/8 x 12 in, (45.4 x 51.1 x 30.5cm) Weight: 35 lb. (15.9kg)
Cast iron with remnants of sheet iron tail
Gift of David Rockefeller; From the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Collection
Acc. No. 1931.800.9
A full-bodied cast iron weathervane in the form of a striding horse, the R rear and L foreleg advancing, the L front hoof held off the ground. The tail is missing but was cutout of sheet iron and riveted in place between the two cast halves of the body. A hole for mounting purposes appears just behind the forelegs.
Label:Abby Aldrich Rockefeller loaned this horse to an important early exhibition organized by Holger Cahill ("American Folk Sculpture: the Work of Eighteenth and Nineteenth Century Craftsmen") held at the Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey, from October 20, 1931 through January 31, 1932. Regarding the horse, the exhibition catalogue entry stated: "Unlike many modern stylized animals with strained tightness in their affected poses, this horse gains rather than loses in dignity by the formality of his pose." Hence, variously-sized horses posed and configured like this one are, today, often called "formal horses."

This is the smallest of several sizes of this form produced. The animal's arched neck, tucked head, and stately controlled gait give the impression of a parade horse, while its elevated tail, dished face, and small pricked ears enhance its silhouette. The horse's proportions are distinctly stockier than those of the more numerous nineteenth century vanes patterned after harness race horses.
Provenance:Found in Boston, Mass., and purchased by Edith Gregor Halpert, Downtown Gallery, New York, NY; purchased from Halpert by Mrs. John D. Rockefeller, Jr., in 1931; given to the Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY, by Rockefeller in 1939; sold by MoMA to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY, in 1947; purchased from the Metropolitan Museum of Art by David Rockefeller and given by him to CWF in 1955.