The Three Horsemen - Blog by Sam

Three Horsemen; Unknown; Undated; Cat# 273

I first saw this work in the Untitled, Undated, Unknown exhibition at IPAG’s Don Street gallery. The shroud of mystery that surrounded all works in this show was intriguing to start with, but this painting in particular hooked me. First off, I am a sucker for anything horse related, but the mirrored behaviour of horse and rider in this image really pulled me in – there must be more of a story here!

The subject matter is simple at first glance. In the foreground are three horses and their riders slightly off centre. Looking closely to the indistinct and rather atmospheric background, there appears to be an orderly line of cavalrymen marching away into the distance. The background is filled with what looks to be smoke and several of the figures are holding guns which makes me think they are taking part in a war. 

Focusing in on the two figures closest to the viewer, I notice they are in deep and reasonably intense conversation – even their horses seem to mirror their riders expressions. What are they talking about? Is it simply personal gossip, or something more serious and related to the events going on in the rest of the image? Being a horse owner myself, I have often come across the saying “your horse is your mirror” and it is nearly always true. Here in this artwork the expressions and conversation is not just between the men, but between their horses too. I wonder if they are talking about the same thing? 

Although I still have so many questions about the subject matter, I am also intrigued in why the work does not have a signature or date. Maybe the painting is unfinished; or the artist wanted it to be a secret; or perhaps they just forgot to sign it in the end? I do wonder if there is anyone out there who might know more?

Checking on the store room a few weeks back and seeing the painting again confirmed that everything about this artwork is a great mystery to me. But it will continue to call me back time and time again - and each time I am sure I will see something else that makes me want to know more! 

Sam Chandler

Assistant Curator / Administrator