One of the things that German expressionist painter Franz Marc may be best known for is his many renderings of animal subjects. Sweet depictions of endearing domestic animals such as serenely sleeping cats, or dogs at play.
There are also many other works showing scenes of deer, pigs, and foxes. Some of the most interesting pieces are of more exotic creatures such as monkeys and tigers.
But, perhaps Marc's favourite animal subject was the horse as we see here in this painting, Horse in a Landscape. It was Franz Marc's belief that animals were more innocent and beautiful than human beings.
A deeply religious person, Marc felt that animals and their harmonious relationship to nature was sacred; the one thing in the world that was the most equal to God.
Horses, especially, Marc used to convey a deeply moving message regarding the natural world and humanity. While Franz Marc was not the type of painter to communicate social or political statements with his work, he was an artist who aspired to evoke profound emotion and a attain a more spiritual quality in his art.
Sharing this perspective with the animal reminds us of Marc's astounding empathy for his beloved animal subjects. Patches of green and red give the sweeping land in front of the horse a vivid definition. The handsome red horse almost seems to be in contemplation as he gazes down upon the yellow landscape before him.
With what we know of Franz Marc's careful use of colour in his paintings, where yellow represents feminine joy, red symbolises the sounds of violence, and blue, the male principle, we know there is a hidden meaning resting within this piece.