Equine empathies: Giving voice to horses in early modern Germany

Pia Cuneo

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


Any survey of early modern imagery reveals a colourful parade of horses in virtually all media. Albrecht Dürer’s well-known engraving Knight, Death and the Devil (1513) provides a typical example of just such imagery (Figure 3.1).1 Most early modern images, like Dürer’s print, depict the horse as imposingly powerful but utterly obedient to the rider’s will; horse and human exist together in a state of perfect harmony, without any hint of conict or discord.2 In the engraving, the horse trots energetically but calmly forward while the rider easily, even casually, directs the movement with only one hand holding the double reins. Following philosophical and artistic traditions stretching back to classical antiquity, early modern representation of the horse’s obedient submission is understood both to communicate and to prove the genuine authority of his rider. The horse functions as a cultural symbol for virtuous human mastery over a number of dangerously capricious phenomena, including emotions, political states, and nature itself.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInterspecies Interactions
Subtitle of host publicationAnimals and Humans between the Middle Ages and Modernity
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9781351612647
ISBN (Print)9781138189713
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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