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August 10, 2013 — 4:43 PM, EST Go to The Wall Street Journal Online >>
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Life and Style

Photo-Op: Hotblooded 8/9 Inline
‘What he loved in horses was what he loved in men, the blood and the heat of the blood that ran them.’ So wrote Cormac McCarthy of his cowboy protagonist’s obsession with Equus ferus caballus in ‘All the Pretty Horses.’ The steeds in Mr. McCarthy’s Texas are perhaps less refined than those at the Château de Chantilly, some 25 miles north of Paris. Yet France’s Museum of the Horse is a reflection of the same passion. ‘The Museum of the Horse’ (Prestel, 174 pages, $49.95) showcases some of the beautiful objects (from works by Rubens and Pordenone to modern posters and scarves) gathered there—not to mention the resident horses that make Chantilly a ‘living museum.’ The martial aspects of equestrian culture are well represented: Jacques Bellange’s early-17th-century portrait ‘The Chevalier d’Ancerville’ features a black stallion with furious eyes that contrast sharply with the armored knight’s regal demeanor; an 1893 canvas by Jean-Baptiste-Edouard Detaille depicts the snow-covered battleground of Eylau strewn with bloodied warriors and their fallen horses. Then there are the more practical but equally artful objects: an embroidered leather saddle from the Arab lands dating to the 18th century; a 19th-century pair of silver Argentine stirrups with delicate carvings—remnants of an age when functionality didn’t reign supreme and reminders of how, for millennia, the destinies of horse and man were entwined. Chantilly remains a center of thoroughbred racing, hosting two of France’s greatest events. The grandeur of the château and Chantilly’s turf are well captured in a 2010 image of the Prix de Diane (above). In all ways, the environs complement the nobility of the steed. We no longer need it for transportation or war, but the horse still makes the blood run.

Collection owner: pmb2811

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