1852 - 1931
Head of an Arab Horse

Oil on cardboard mounted on canvas, signed lower right
Image size: 9 x 7 1/4 inches (23 x 18.5 cm)
Original gilt frame

This painting shows a horse standing in profile in front of, what would seem, an overcast landscape as background. A serenity is brought to the painting as soft light surrounds the horse and illuminates the front of the creature’s head. Shonborn has captures the near perfect white colouring of the horse, the expert handling of the muted tones show traces of a Barbizon influence.

With stunning detail and fine finishing of the head and muscular definition this is a most fine equestrian study.

The Artist

John Lewis Shonborn’s work is mainly preserved in private collections around the world. He has been considered for several years as one of the greatest equestrian painters of the 20th century,

Born in Hungary, John Lewis Shonborn emigrated to Oxford, Iowa at a very early age. Here, he studied horses on the family farm and would later further study the animals during his time attending Maisons-Alfort, a veterinary school, where he practiced his art in a context deeply rooted in animal anatomy.

In order to improve his skills, he set sail at the age of twenty for France where he was a pupil of Charles Crauk in Amiens with the painter Francis Tattegrain. He was later a pupil of Léon Bonnat in his studio in Paris. He began his career by painting pastoral scenes and countryside landscapes.He exhibited at the Paris Salon from 1877 to 1894.

His career was interrupted by a serious deterioration in his health which resulted in total deafness and a serious eye condition. To mitigate this somewhat, he spent several months each year living in Algeria where he found the heat and sun were beneficial; during this time he executed some magnificent studies of Arab thoroughbreds and Algerian genre studies. He shared his time between here and the Ile de France where he painted numerous canvases in the region of Senlis and Montlévêque.

He died in France, in Gien, in 1931.