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“And Man met the horse”: The horse in art, just a few examples (#IICMONTREALWEBINARSERIES)

The Italian Institute of Culture in Montreal and the Department of Veterinary Sciences of the University of Turin are pleased to present the webinar series entitled “And Man met the horse”. The horse has followed the life of men and civilizations, since the dawn of time. Originally from the Eurasian steppe, at first it provided man with meat, milk and skins and only in the metal age did it become a protagonist among draft animals and prince for horse riding, marking memorable moments in military and sporting history. His part in literature and art has always been central, that of the noble animal, reflecting the interests and passions of peoples. The figurative arts have represented its beauty in every age: from the equine figures left by primitives on the walls of prehistoric caves to the horses of the admirable equestrian monuments of the Italian Renaissance.

The webinar series “And Man met the horse”, created with Prof. Domenico Bergero, Director of the Department of Veterinary Sciences of the University of Turin, develops in a program rich in scientific, cultural, historical- artistic, sports… and many other curiosities: all entrusted to the words and knowledge of Italian scientists and scholars.

Friday, February 19th 2021, 3pm (Montreal), 8pm (Rome)

Registration required

The webinar, opened and animated by Francesco D’Arelli, Director of the Italian Institute of Culture in Montreal, and by Prof. Domenico Bergero, presents the following conferences:

Adalberto Merighi, Anatomy of the horse and art: Carlo Ruini
From the time of the compilation of the Hippiatrika, during the reign of Constantine VII, and up to the sixteenth century, veterinarians had to rely on the writings of the Greek and Roman empiricists to get rudiments on their art. 1598 marks the end of the dark years with the publication of the treatise Dell’Anatomia e dell’infirmità del cavallo by the Bolognese Carlo Ruini, who among the monographic works holds a place of particular importance, for the quality of the images and which can rightly be considered the first scientific treatise on veterinary anatomy. The conference will focus on this work, both from the point of view of anatomy and art.

Virginia Bertone, The “best of animal painters”: Carlo Pittara and the rediscovery of the Saluzzo Fair
The “Fiera di Saluzzo” (17th century) is a monumental painting centered on the representation of many breeds of animals that the Turin-born Carlo Pittara presented at the National Fine Arts Exhibition of 1880. The hope was to consolidate his reputation as animal painter: the story will instead lead to a radical turning point in the artist’s life. However, that painting remains a profound declaration of love for nature and animals through their representation.

Mario Gennero, Leonardo da Vinci’s horses
The horse was a reason of constant interest for Leonardo da Vinci throughout his life. The various codes handed down report studies on the horse. From the very beginning of his training, the horse has been the protagonist of his drawings and paintings. Leonardo certainly loved the horse, a symbol of beauty and strength. He also includes it in his great religious work “The Adoration of the Magi”. He never completed a single equestrian sculpture, but his precious drawings and sketches remain. The horse is considered a subject worthy of study, second only to man. As he had done a thorough research on the ideal proportions of the human body, so he devotes himself to those of the horse as revealed by the multiple drawings.

Adalberto Merighi graduated (with honors) in Veterinary Medicine at the University of Turin. He then earned a Masters in Histochemistry and Cytochemistry at the University of Pavia and a Ph.D. in Neurobiology at the Royal Post-graduate Medical School of the University of London. He was then Research Fellow in Neurobiology at Harvard Medical School in Boston with an international scholarship from the Fogarty International Center of the NIH of the USA. He is now Full Professor of Anatomy of Domestic Animals at the Department of Veterinary Sciences of Turin.

Virginia Bertone, art historian, graduated with honors, publication recommended, in History of Medieval Art with Enrico Castelnuovo at the University of Turin (1981). Has worked since 1984 at the Civic Gallery of Modern and Contemporary Art (GAM) in Turin, where since 2000 she has assumed the role of Conservator and then Chief Conservator (2016) of the permanent collections. Her studies concern themes and artists of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in Italy and Europe. Among her recently curated exhibitions: I Macchiaioli. Arte italiana verso la modernità, curated with Cristina Acidini (GAM, october 25th 2018–march 24th 2019) and Cavalli, costumi e dimore. La riscoperta della Fiera di Saluzzo (sec. XVII) di Carlo Pittara (GAM, december18th 2019- november 8th 2020).

Mario Gennero, a graduate of the University of Turin, is a judge in show jumping of the FEI and a director of the Regional Committee of the Piedmont Fise. He has collaborated with the main equestrian magazines, author of publications on horses and the history of Italian equitation. He deals in particular with Renaissance horse riding and Caprillian horse riding.


  • Organized by: Istituto Italiano di Cultura di Montréal e il Dipa
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