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Decorated Bit from a Horse's Bridle

Culture Villanovan
Culture Etruscan
Title Decorated Bit from a Horse's Bridle
Date 800–600 BCE
Medium Bronze
Dimensions Overall (approx. height from bottom of ring to tip of ear): 3 3/4 x 6 x 5 in. (9.5 x 15.2 x 12.7 cm)
Credit Line Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University
Accession Number 84.28

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About this Work

Early Etruscan culture is generally referred to as Villanovan because of the archaeological examples first found in Villanova (near modern-day Bologna). In this period Etruscan society grew and rural settlements began their steady transformation into urban centers. Metalsmithing no doubt developed in response to the need for tools and weapons. However, even in this early period, artists skillfully embellished practical objects with patterns and figural decoration—an indication of a growing market for luxury items. This bit, a section of a horse's bridle, is cleverly decorated with the images of horses.

1984, Indiana University Art Museum purchase from Robin Symes Limited, London, England

?–1984, with Robin Symes Limited, London, England [1]

ca 1959–?, Private collection purchase from J.J. Klejman Gallery, New York, NY [2]

after 1950–ca.1959, with J.J. Klejman Gallery, New York, NY [3]


[1] Robin Symes (b. 1939) operated as an art and antiquities dealer in London from about 1970. Robin Symes Limited was founded in 1977 and dissolved in 2005.

[2] Provenance reference supplied by Symes on April 2, 1984 states that this horse bit "comes from an old collection and was purchased 25 years ago from Klejman" (letter in curatorial files).

[3] Born in Poland, John J. Klejman (1906–1995) emigrated to New York, where he opened the J.J. Klejman Gallery (1950-1974). He was a collector and dealer of African art, Asian art, and antiquities. He worked with London-based dealer Kenneth John Hewett, who acted as an intermediary with major museums, including the British Museum.

Provenance research is ongoing for this and many other items in the Eskenazi Museum of Art permanent collection. For more information about the provenance of this artwork, please contact the department curator with specific questions.

September 9, 2017–July 8, 2018, "The Horse in Ancient Greek Art," National Sporting Library & Museum, Middleburg, VA, September 9, 2017–January 14, 2018; Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA, February 17–July 8, 2018

March 7–May 7, 2006, "Horses in Classical Art," Indiana University Art Museum, Bloomington, IN

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"Decorated Bit from a Horse's Bridle | Collections Online." Collections Online. Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Indiana University, 2024.