Ivan Stepanovych Mazepa (1639-1709) was a Ukrainian military leader, known for his stand against the Russian empire. His story captured the imagination of many writers and artists in the nineteenth century. This painting is inspired by Byron’s epic poem Mazeppa. It recounts the legend of the young man’s journey through the wilderness, strapped naked to an untamed horse as punishment for an affair. Herring was perhaps drawn to the subject as he specialised in animal painting. It is a close copy of French artist Horace Vernet’s popular representation of the wolf chase.
Gallery label, October 2020
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