Fibulae or brooches were originally used in Ancient Greece and in the Roman Empire for fastening garments, such as cloaks or togae. The fibula designs developed into a variety of shapes, but all were based on the safety-pin principle. Brooches modelled in the shape of animals have been vastly recovered across all the Roman Empire, including Roman Britain. The distribution of archaeological finds suggests that the major production centres for such ornamentation were Britain and Gaul. The horse-and-rider type is amongst the more common of types found amongst the zoomorphic repertoire, although enamelled varieties seem more common. Their popularity could be the result of the horse being a status symbol amongst the Celtic population.
Romano-Celtic Bronze Horse-and-Rider Brooch
A finely cast ancient Romano-Celtic bronze brooch depicting a male figure riding on a naturalistically portrayed leaping horse. The horse’s profile is elegantly curved, its head raised as the rider’s outstretched arms hold its reins. The forelegs are horizontally rendered, to depict the motion of the horse, mid-leap. The legs of the horse are squat in nature, in comparison to the elongated length of the tail. Incised decoration has been added to the horse’s main, muzzle and the rider’s head covering. There are indented cells to the rider and horse’s body, once richly decorated with enamel. The enamel has now worn away with only faint traces of red and blue decoration still visible. The reverse features the original hinge and catchplate, however the pin is missing.
Provenance: Ex JS collection, acquired on the London Art Market, Dorset.
Condition: Fine condition, covered with green patination. Enamel decoration now faintly evident. Original pin missing.