Origin: English
Period: Regency/William IV
Provenance: Unknown
Date: c.1820-30
Height: 45.5”
Width: 79.5”
Depth: 16” (all at extremities)

The large and early nineteenth century dappled grey rocking horse on bow rocker, at almost seven feet wide, the well carved painted and gessoed horse having pricked ears, flared nostrils and open mouth, the eye sockets vacant, the body with a leather and embroidery saddle back, the horse with outstretched legs, the tail lacking, mounted on an ash bow rocker with two layers of period paint, black over an earlier green, rounded ends and turned cross-pieces and surviving in un-meddled with country-house condition.

The horse remains totally original and un-meddled with; the eyes and tail are lacking and there are some splits and losses to the whole as photographed. We have carried out some remdial work so that she is fully stable and rocks well. There is a general loss of gesso and the paint is rubbed, the earlier Georgian green to the rockers has a later black coat which is probably mid-Victorian, with some sections such as the cheeks to the legs lacking and one footboard missing. Overall it is undeniably hugely decoratively appealing. If there were a makers mark present it is now lacking though there is a small carpenters mark to the body. There is one stirrup remaining and some remains of the reins.

The horse on bow rockers that we know and love today was a product of eighteenth century England and was popular with the wealthy with it being said they were used to help develop children's' balance for the riding of real horses.

Spotted or dappled rocking horses started to appear in the late eighteenth to early nineteenth centuries and they were usually white with black spots, as we see with this example. Horses were carved, roughly rasped and then covered with gesso which was also known as whitening and looks like plaster. This was far easier to rub down than the wood itself and gave a very smooth finish on which to paint. However, it was a very time-consuming process whereby the gesso was applied hot, in multiple coats, with sanding in-between and each coat could take up to ten hours to dry.

An early example and a mouth-wateringly beautiful one at that.