Polychrome wooden horse

Neapolitan School

End of the 18th Century

Measurements :


Height :   22 in.

Length :  24,8 in.



Very beautiful wooden horse carved and polychrome black and brown in walking position. It rests on a base out of wooden. Its eyes are in molten glass.

Our horse was probably created for a crib of court, which was a great tradition in Naples since the 16th century, and reaches its apogee in the 18th century under the reign of Charles III of Bourbon. In Naples in the 17th century, and more still with 18th, the taste for the crib is at this widespread point which one can speak about a phenomenon that truly marked its time.


Actually, the Neapolitan cribs of the 18th century are a theatre, an element of prestige in the royal and aristocratic residences of the time. What, at its beginnings, was not that a purely religious demonstration became over the years a kind of “collective mania”.


The figures of crib are carried out by workshops of artists who sought the favors of important personalities. However, it is difficult to recognize the hand of the Master because this one made work many collaborators. Their inspiration takes his source in the popular world, the scenes of the daily life, the trades and the festivals traditional.

The animals are present and sometimes essential in the Neapolitan cribs. They are species various, elephants, cows, horses, ewes, monkeys… and carried out according to alive models. The sculptors worked these animals in preoccupations of smoothness and realism, in simple and daily attitudes. With realism preoccupations, animals were often avoided glass eyes just like our horse.


In the 18th century and in first half of the 19th century, the realization of crib knew a true passion and became one of the favourites pastimes of the high aristocracy. All competed in the decoration of their cribs, which was always to be most beautiful, richest, most interesting, the most admired and envied.


The people, of attentive and critical spectator, came out for one or the other. However, the families of the aristocracy counted also impassioned amateurs.

The cribs became more profane and most important several hundreds of subjects counted which invaded the rooms and bring down Neapolitan houses and palates.

The cribs were very often dispersed with the liking of time and its elements are found insulated and gone up on posterior bases, as it is the case for our horse. Today, we can find cribs Neapolitan on profane subjects and comprising animals like our horse in various museums and in particular in the Museum San Martino of Naples.