Wild One

Part of the Horse exhibition.

Many layers of colorful images have been painted deep inside Tito Bustillo Cave, part of a network of natural tunnels in the cliffs near the northern coast of Spain. Around 14,000 years ago, a violet horse was drawn in delicate detail, by an artist who was clearly a careful observer.

Although the color is an unusual choice, the form and features of this horse seem lifelike. The painting suggests that the European wild horse roaming the area at the time had an erect mane, pale belly, and striping on the shoulders and legs--features that can still be found in wild horse populations today.

lascaux horse
Lascaux Horse.
The Granger Collection, New York


Ice Age paintings at Lascaux Cave suggest the European wild horse looked much like the Przewalski horse of Central Asia, with its sand-colored coat, pale stomach, and dark, stiff mane. The Przewalski horse is the only truly wild horse that has survived to the present day. All other so-called wild horses are actually descended from domestic ancestors.