Apollo
Rakewell

My Little Pony rides again – at the National Gallery

12 September 2021

Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.

It has been a while since Rakewell has had to grapple with the phenomenon of My Little Pony. So it came as something of a surprise to your somewhat, let’s face it, curmudgeonly correspondent when they found themselves not entirely hating the trailer for the upcoming film on Netflix (to be released on 24 September). My Little Pony: A New Generation seems to have a sense of humour about itself, with ‘We’ll need glitter, lots of glitter,’ being a sinew-stiffening call to arms. The plot revolves around the fact that unicorns are losing their magic, prompting ‘an earth pony’ (debatable description) and a unicorn to recover it from the villainous winged equine inhabitants of Pegasus City – and who doesn’t like a quest narrative?

But what has really caught your correspondent’s wandering attention is an invitation to something called ‘the Mane Event’ at the National Gallery in London on 20th September. Equestrian paintings across the collection will be ‘magically transformed into My Little Pony augmented art’, giving us the chance to ‘explore pastures new in a cutting-edge AR experience brought to life with audio commentaries’ by the film’s cast. We can’t wait for the thespian horse-whisperers to talk us through some masterpieces of equestrian art.

It’s neither little, nor a pony, but surely Whistlejacket has to be the first stop?

Whistlejacket (c. 1762), George Stubbs. National Gallery, London.

Whistlejacket (c. 1762), George Stubbs. National Gallery, London.

Will Charles I keep his seat on a more…multicoloured horse?

Equestrian Portrait of Charles I (c. 1637–38), Anthony van Dyck. National Gallery, London.

Equestrian Portrait of Charles I (c. 1637–38), Anthony van Dyck. National Gallery, London.

The handsome white horses depicted by Rosa Bonheur in this version of her most famous painting are Percherons, but this is no time for equine pedantry.

The Horse Fair (1855), Rosa Bonheur.

The Horse Fair (1855), Rosa Bonheur. National Gallery, London

And perhaps Géricault’s terrified horse could do with some rainbow-coloured companions?

A Horse Frightened by Lightning (c. 1813–14), Jean-Louis-André-Théodore Géricault. National Gallery, London

A Horse Frightened by Lightning (c. 1813–14), Jean-Louis-André-Théodore Géricault. National Gallery, London

Got a story for Rakewell? Get in touch at rakewell@apollomag.com or via @Rakewelltweets.

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