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Horse and Rider Sculpture

A Grade II Listed Building in City of Westminster, Westminster

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Latitude: 51.5076 / 51°30'27"N

Longitude: -0.1415 / 0°8'29"W

OS Eastings: 529074

OS Northings: 180378

OS Grid: TQ290803

Mapcode National: GBR DF.DR

Mapcode Global: VHGQZ.HCJM

Plus Code: 9C3XGV55+29

Entry Name: Horse and Rider Sculpture

Listing Date: 24 September 2015

Grade: II

Source: Historic England

Source ID: 1429315

Location: West End, Westminster, London, W1S

County: Westminster

Electoral Ward/Division: West End

Built-Up Area: City of Westminster

Traditional County: Middlesex

Lieutenancy Area (Ceremonial County): Greater London

Church of England Parish: St George, Hanover Square

Church of England Diocese: London

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Sculpture of Horse and Rider by Dame Elisabeth Frink, of 1975.


The Horse and Rider sculpture of 1975 by Dame Elisabeth Frink, commissioned by Trafalgar House.

MATERIALS: bronze on a granite-faced plinth.

EXTERIOR: at approximately 244cm high, the sculpture is on a rough bronze base signed ‘Frink, 1975’ at the top-left corner. The base tops a granite-faced plinth. Both the horse and rider are roughly finished, their faces fixed to the south-east in common purpose. The horse is in a walking pose; it has a lightly-stylized mane, a shortened tail and expressionless gaze. It has no saddlery.

The rider, a man, has no clothing and is barefoot. Sitting slightly askew astride the horse, his left shoulder is pushed back a little, allowing his arm to drop and his hand to rest casually against the horse’s left flank. His right arm is positioned against his torso, bent forward at the elbow with his hand placed on the horse’s mane. The muscles of both horse and rider are lightly but clearly defined.


The period after 1945 saw a shift from commemorative sculpture and architectural enrichment to the idea of public sculpture as a primarily aesthetic contribution to the public realm. Sculpture was commissioned for new housing, schools, universities and civic set pieces, with the counties of Hertfordshire, London and Leicestershire leading the way in public patronage; thus public sculpture could be an emblem of civic renewal and social progress. By the late C20, however, patronage was more diverse and included corporate commissions and Arts Council-funded community art. The ideology of enhancing the public realm through art continued, but with divergent means and motivations.

Visual languages ranged from the abstraction of Victor Pasmore and Philip King to the figurative approach of Elisabeth Frink and Peter Laszlo Peri, via those such as Lynn Chadwick and Barbara Hepworth who bridged the abstract/representational divide. The post-war decades are characterised by the exploitation of new, often industrial, materials and techniques including new welding and casting techniques, plastics and concrete, while kinetic sculpture and ‘ready mades’ (using found objects) demonstrate an interest in composite forms.

Horse and Rider by Dame Elisabeth Frink was completed in 1975. Frink (1930-1993) was born in Suffolk and attended the Guildford School of Art in 1947, and then Chelsea School of Art 1949-53. Her first major public commissions were the Harlow New Town Boar and the Blind Beggar and Dog in Tower Hamlets. Her preferred sculptural technique involved modelling directly in plaster and then modifying the work with carving tools. Figurative sculptures of animals, particularly horses, and men dominated her work, earning Frink a national and international reputation. Five of Frink’s sculptures are already listed, including the Blind Beggar and Dog (Grade II*, 1958, NHLE ref. 1031598): the Desert Quartet sculptures at Montague Shopping Centre in Worthing (Grade II*,1989, NHLE ref. 1391960) and the Crucifix for the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Liverpool, which she completed in the year of her death (the Cathedral is listed at Grade II*, NHLE ref. 1070607). She was elected a Royal Academician in 1977 and awarded a DBE (Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire) in 1982.

Horse and Rider was commissioned by Trafalgar House in 1974 for their site on Dover Street at its junction with Piccadilly. It was modelled in plaster and then cast in bronze in the Southwark studio Frink took on having returned from France in 1973. Frink described it as an ageless symbol of man and horse. Another cast of this sculpture was permanently erected in Winchester in 1983. Neither its original setting, or current use of it, is germane to the artistic expression or intention of the sculpture and does not contribute to its special interest overall.

Reasons for Listing

The sculpture of the Horse and Rider by Dame Elisabeth Frink, of 1975, is listed at Grade II for the following principal reasons:
* Artistic interest: a sculpture of high artistic and aesthetic quality, cast in bronze from plaster, subtly detailed and well-composed;
* Historic Interest: as a piece commissioned by a commercial developer from the internationally renowned artist Dame Elisabeth Frink and representative of a recurrent theme in her oeuvre.

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