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Marino Marini (Italy 1901‑1980)


To be sold at our Important Sale: Modern & Contemporary Art + Design & Watches 14 – 16 May 2024

Lot 529 Marino Marini (Italy 1901‑1980). ”Cavaliere”. Signed MARINO lower center and dated 1955 lower right. Remains of an underlying signature above the signature. Oil, gouache, tempera and ink on paper, 80 x 60 cm (sight), 83 x 62 cm (sheet).

This work has been examined by the Archivio Fondazione Marino Marini, Pistoia, in March 2024,
and will be accompanied by a certificate of authenticity.


1.000.000 – 1.500.000 SEK
€ 86.000 – 129.000


The collection of Werner (1899‑1960) and Nelly (1910‑1975) Bär, Zürich.
Bukowskis, Stockholm, 25‑27 November 1986, lot 36.
An important Swedish private collection, acquired at the above sale.


Kunsthaus Zürich, ”Marino Marini”, 1959, cat. no. 147.
Kunsthalle Bern, ”Marino Marini”, 1959, cat. no. 147.
Kunsthaus Zürich, ”Marino Marini”, 23 January-25 February 1962, cat. no. 189 (entitled ”Reiter”).
Ulster Museum, Belfast, ”Major Impressionist and Modern Paintings”, 13‑28 October 1984, cat. no. 21.


Kunsthaus Zürich, Marino Marini, exhibition catalogue 1962, listed as cat. no. 189.
Werner Bär, Nelly Bär & René Wehrli: Sammlung Werner und Nelly Bär, Zürich, 1965, illustrated p. 153.

“The myth of the rider, of the man who derives his force and impetus from the beast that he dominates and drives, but by which he is also unsaddled, grew from year to year, brought worldwide celebrity to the sculptor, and resulted in repeated masterpieces. In some works the connection between the horse and the rider becomes almost symbiotic, as though the artist would melt the two bodies into one to represent Nessus, the mythical centaur” (G. Carandente, in Fondazione Marino Marini (ed.), op. cit., pp. 12 13). The present work explores one of Marino Marini’s most iconic themes – the relationship of a rider and his horse. Drawing and painting allowed Marini to explore the forms of his sculptures before completing them, but was also important for the freedom it offered him to investigate the balance between form and colour. Presented in this sale is the vibrant composition in oil and tempera “Cavaliere” from 1955. Characteristically framed by the contrasting painted red, and with different tones of black, white and everything in between, is the centered horse with his rider. Without saddle, bridle or any other tool, we meet them in their struggle of power. This superb portrayal origins from the important collection of Werner and Nelly Bär and offers a great opportunity to acquire a masterly painted scene of the horse and his rider by Marino Marini. A masterpiece from its period with the best possible provenance.

The subject of rider and horse dominated Marini’s oeuvre, energetic and powerful in their poses. Turning to one of the most classical themes in the world of art, Marini completely found his own path and through his imagery he has forever perpetuated the struggle between the horse and man. It is a true challenge to tame a horse and no one masters the depiction of it better than Marini. In the years before and during the Second World War, the horses by Marini were gracefully executed reminiscent of classical sculpture. In the 1950s, the energy in his work reflected the instability of a new era and the horses transformed into more expressive postures. The constant interplay and opposition between the horse and his rider now becomes the main focus. Marini exhibited his works in New York for the first time in 1950 at Curt Valentin’s Buchholz Gallery. While visiting the vibrant art metropolis New York, he was exposed to the Abstract Expressionists. Undoubtably, this experience deeply inspired him and many of his later works relates to the American expressionists. This matter was discussed by Edward Trier: “If Marini […] combines coloured geometrical shapes with the graphic diagram of a rider, or simply invents a non-figurative ‘composition’ out of interlocking areas of colour, his handwriting nevertheless remains unmistakable even in abstraction. It is the same tension between static and dynamic, between architectonically firm and mobile dancing forms, that raises the bold, confidently placed areas of colour above the level of decoration to that of expression” (E. Trier, The Sculpture of Marino Marini, London, 1961, p. 22). Although he drew inspiration from cultures and movements, Marini’s aesthetic remained individual and personal throughout his life.

Marino Marini was born on 27 February 1901 in Pistoia, Italy. Though he became best known for his sculptures, he turned to painting at several times during his career. He studied painting at the Accademia di Belle Arti in Florence and was deeply influenced by Roman and Etruscan art, as well as the work of Arturo Martini. In the 1930s Marini travelled between Italy, France and Switzerland. He became close friends with many of the foremost artists of the 20th century, such as Alberto Giacometti, Giorgio de Chirico and Alberto Magnelli. After the world war ended in 1945, he decided to move to Milan where he lived until his death. ”Painting for me depends on colour, which takes me further and further away from real form. The emotions that colour awake in me, that is to say the contrast of one colour with another, or their relationship, stimulates my imagination much more than does the materialization of the human figures if I have to rely on pictorial means alone”. (Marini, Thoughts of Marino Marini, in G. di San Lazzaro, Homage to Marino Marini, 1975, p. 6). 

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