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1976: 50 Works for 50 Years

(John) Gutzon Borglum

Study of the Mares of Diomedes

Although John Gutzon Borglum (1867-1941) is best known as the sculptor of Mount Rushmore in the Black Hills, it was The Mares of Diomedes that brought him national recognition. The large completed version of this work is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The subject of the sculpture is the last labor of Hercules, as he brings the wild horses of Diomedes under control, symbolizing brute force being conquered and directed by the human mind. Since 1903 the figures of Diomedes and the three lead horses have been damaged on Borglum’s plaster model. The artist’s son, Lincoln, decided to preserve the artistic integrity of the work and cast this study without first attempting restoration.

Borglum himself and his carving of Mount Rushmore brings up challenging issues highlighting the complexity of his legacy, covered well in these articles:

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