Marly horses

Marly Horses which are up for auction next week

Marly Horses which are up for auction next week

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Possibly one of the most recognisable and reproduced sculptures of the 19th century, the Marly Horses appear regularly at auctions around the country.

The original sculptures were designed in the late 17th century by French sculptor Guillaume Coustou (1677-1746), whose brother and uncle were also sculptors.

Guillaume had won a four-year scholarship to study at the French Academy in Rome. However, his reluctance to follow its strict rules resulted in him returning to Paris shortly after.

When the Sun King, Louis XIV, commissioned a hunting lodge at the wooded area of Marly, between Versailles and Paris, architects, artists and sculptors flocked to the area in seek of work.

Within the grounds of Chateau de Marly a grand water trough was installed for the horses and Guillaume Coustou was commissioned to produce a series of equestrian marble sculptures for its embellishment. It was these which became known as Chevaux de Marly, or the anglicised Marly Horses. The horses are now in the Louvre.

During the 19th century they were reproduced in their thousands in varying sizes. This bronze pair dating from the 19th century are being offered in our September 9 auction with an estimate of £300-£500.

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