The story behind "Ives' Neptune"
I wrote a bit about the process of creating this sculpture in a previous blog post here, but there's a bit more to the story behind him.
The following photo is of "Saturn", a Suffolk Punch stallion featured in the book The Horses of the British Empire, Volume 2, published in the very early years of the 1900s. I surmise from the text (pg 220), Saturn was foaled sometime in the mid- to late 1890s.
This photo was very much the inspiration, the "parent" if you will, for my Suffolk Punch sculpture.
Thus it only made sense to me to name my sculpture "Neptune" for in mythology Neptune is the son of Saturn and Opis (in Latin her name means Plenty; Opis "was a fertility deity and earth goddess of Sabine origin", according to Wikipedia )
Again quoting Wikipedia because it's just so darn handy, "Neptune is in charge of all the rivers, springs, and waters. He also is the lord of horses because he worked with Minerva to make the chariot".
Cool, works for me.
Interestingly, Minerva is often depicted with the head of Medusa emblazoned on her breastplate. You will recall that when Perseus lopped the head off of Medusa, Pegasus sprung forth. Minerva is said to have captured the winged horse, tamed it, then gifted this imaginal creature to the Muses. Ahhhh, so many beautiful layers of metaphor.
The "Ives" portion of the sculpture's name flows back to an ancestor of mine who lived in Suffolk in the 1600s. I do not know if he had any direct experience with raising or working with the horses of his home county, but my Muses assure me that William Ives and his family would have seen these magnificent horses in daily partnership with the folks of Suffolk.
"In no part of England is there a breed of horses so distinctly associated with a limited area as in the county of Suffolk. Although the farmers there never had the character of being 'horsey', as the term is sometimes applied to Yorkshiremen, the fame of the leading agriculturalists who flourished here a hundred years ago was mainly connected with the breeding of the indigenous cart-horse of their own locality".
So reads the opening of an extensive chapter about the Suffolk Punch horse in The Horses of the British Empire, Volume 2, page 189, as written in the early 1900s.
"If we may believe the description of Arthur Young, the Suffolk Punch of the old breed was not comely to look at. In his 'Farmer's Tour', written in 1770, he says, 'the horse of the county is one of the the greatest curiosities in it. I never saw anything comparable to them in shape; they are called the sorrel breed. The colour is a bay sorrel; the form, that of the true round barrel, remarkably short; the legs the same; and they are lower over the fore end than in any part of the back.' "
In the 250 years since this description was penned, the Suffolk has become more refined in appearance thanks to many generations of dedicated breeders. Ives' Neptune depicts a modern gelding with an ancient heritage.