The lovely L’Arriere-Main Philippe Ledoux carré draws its inspiration from a painting by Théodore Géricault entitled Les Croupes, (The Hindquarters/Buttocks).
Most likely the studies for this painting found their inspiration at the Royal Stable, the Grande Écurie of Versailles, an impressive structure that could accommodate up to six hundred horses. Constructed during the 17th century under the watchful eye of Jules Hardouin-Mansart, the Royal Stables have been home to the Equestrian Arts Academy (Académie du spectacle équestre) since 2003.
Les Croupes, which portrays twenty-four horses from behind is rather an unusual compositions as it features the hindquarters and not the heads of twenty-four horses in three neat rows. Surprisingly there is one defiant horse that stands out as it is turned around facing us, the audience. I cannot help but attribute lightness and humor to this rather unusual arrangement and composition.
Perhaps charmed by this as well was what inspired Philippe Ledoux to reproduce the Les Coupes as a drawing for his 1969, L’Arriere-Main, now highly sought-after design.
Surprisingly Monsieur Ledoux omits the rebellious horse in his drawing but includes the same checkered blankets that are very often found in Géricault’s other paintings. Perhaps it will remain a mystery why Ledoux left the defiant horse out, but included the horse blankets, which undoubtedly link his design to the French master’s. With this the L’Arriere-Main Hermès carré features three rows but only twenty-three hindquarters and not the twenty-four from its original Inspiration.