Horses in Vintage Art: a Top 5 List (1896-1932)

1890s 1910s 1930s advertising early 1900s Golden Age Illustration Golden Age Illustrators Golden Age of Illustration Graphic design horses magazine art magazine covers sheet music art sheet music covers top 5 top 5 list top 5 lists vintage graphic art vintage magazines

For us horse lovers, one of the things we miss the most while we are in quarantine is to visit our local stables. I know I do. So today I felt inspired to revisit this old love of mine in the hopes that soon we can all go out safely. In the meantime, enjoying vintage images of horses is always a fun thing to do.

This isn't the first time I've written about horses. Early last year, I experimented with blog entries consisting of wordless image compilations. The first such entry was about horses, and you'll see many more images there. Sadly, that idea didn't catch on, but today's entry is likewise a type of entry I haven't written in a while: the good ol' top 5 list!

Let's begin!

5.) False Alarm (sheet music cover, 1905): Horses were, at this time, used not only for pulling carriages, but also for just about every other heavy job you can think of, and pulling fire engines was one such task. This sheet music cover beautifully and dramatically illustrates this, from its various shades of red to its bold type. As the title suggests, it was a false alarm, but, false or not, we could always count on our four-legged friends to get us there!

By the way, if you like sheet music covers, we offer a whole collection of them for sale as prints. Customers in the US can get free standard shipping on orders over $50.

4.) The American Girl magazine cover (September, 1932): A girl and her horse is a common, almost stereotypical, image, but it always makes for an uplifting sight. Indeed, no matter who we are, our bond with animals is precious, and it's images like this one that serve to remind us of that. From a technical standpoint, what I love about this image is its sparse use of red to draw the eye, as well as its typography and its use of the rule of thirds.

More magazine covers are available as prints for purchase here.

3.) Fatima Turkish Cigarette Ad (1913): And if the bond between humans and horses can sell magazines, why not other things? Such is the case here with cigarette sales as an example. This beautiful and heartwarming image of two brothers reuniting after a long time away from each other is only heightened by the additional depiction of a horse. Brother John has come back from college with his Fatima Cigarettes, and his trusty horse helped him get there. Horses are amazing, aren't they?

More magazine ads are available as prints for purchase here.


2.) Klaxon Car Horn Ad (1910): This ad is, from our perspective in the era of climate change, an ominous juxtaposition. The faded horse in the background seems to suggest that horses were being forsaken by their humans, who were trading them in for those shiny, deadly, greenhouse-gas-spewing objects called automobiles! A sad story of how technology severed a special bond and set humanity on a course toward annihilation.

1.) Jolly Days March (sheet music cover, 1896): But let's end this on a cheerful note, shall we? The use of bright color evoking sunshine and pleasant days, juxtaposed with the beautiful depiction of happy, carefree people on a carriage ride with nature all around them, makes for the most serene and uplifting depiction on this list, hence the number one spot! And, of course, let's not forget our friends, who grace the foreground of the image while helping the jolly travelers get from point A to point B.

Which of these images did you like the best? As always, please let me know in the comments.

Have a good rest of your week!

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