Pharaoh's Horses

Updated: Jan 29

In 1848 John Frederick Herring Sr. first painted the pharaoh‘s horses, a painting of the heads of 3 Arabian stallions that are mid-stride with the sea in the background. J.F. Herring was originally a stable boy who worked his way to becoming highly regarded artist of his time. The painting has been widely distributed since it's inception and in 1987 became shrouded in mystery when a nearly identical painting was discovered in a missouri flea market. For more information about that check out this article here


The horse is a sign of biblical intelligence, a maternal archetype, and a symbol of both destruction and victory. The horses in front of the sea have a connection to Exodus 15:19.

"When Pharaoh's horses, chariots and horsemen went into the sea, the LORD brought the waters of the sea back over them, but the Israelites walked through the sea on dry ground."

Although it's unknown exactly when horses were introduced to Egypt they were revered and Pharaoh Ramses II acknowledged their role in his victory in the battle in his poem of Kadesh.

I defeated millions of foreign countries, being alone, being on ‘Victory in Thebes’ and ‘Mut is Contented’ my great horses. They it is whom I found to support me when I was alone fighting many foreign countries… They it is whom I found in the midst of the battle together with the charioteer Menna my shield bearer…


Gus Wagner was one of the earliest people accredited to tattooing this image and it became a popular tattoo motif of the 1920's. The image lends itself perfectly to be framed and designed for the stomach, chest, or upper back. It also can work well scaled down for the arm or leg.

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