William Turnbull: Large Horse

Horses are a prevalent motif in art and are often used in monuments of war heroes to signify power and victory in battle. Turnbull reworked the figure of the horse throughout his career, reducing it to its basic form, as illustrated in Large Horse. Here, Turnbull offers a new interpretation on the theme of the horse in sculpture – although large in scale, the work conveys a graceful innocence, suggesting movement more than power.

His knowledge of African sculpture greatly influenced his work, which frequently developed from looking at a simple utensil or tool. For example, Large Horse takes the shape of the adze – an arched, axe-like tool. The first sculpture Turnbull made, as a student at Slade School of Art, was of a horse’s head in 1946.