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Some History

By Guy Wildenstein

Adriana Zaefferer was born in Argentina in 1952, the daughter of a Buenos Aires surgeon. As a schoolgirl, she spent her holidays on her family`s property in the foothills of the Andes. Here she developed a veritable passion for horses, and she taught herself to draw then from life or from memory. By the age of sixteen, her obvious talent was recognized by Argentina`s foremost owner and breeder Julio Menditeguy, who commissioned the precocious adolescent to execute portraits of several of his prize winners. She had originally intended to dedicate her life to veterinary medicine, an ambition she eventually abandoned but which allowed her to devote a good deal of effort to the study of equine anatomy. 
Having completed her secondary education, the nineteen-year-o1d Adriana struck out on her own, travelling to Europe where she could rely on family and social connections. From there she went to England, and through the Argentinian ambassador, she was introduced into the society of horse breeding and racing at Newmarket, a world with which she felt a spontaneous affinity. Her professional career was launched when her work attracted the notice of the trainer Sir Noel Murless, who called her back from Spain to paint a portrait of his stallion, Welsh Pageant. Over the next decade or so, she would spend. approximately nine months of each year sketching in or around the stables, racetracks and polo fields of Europe, especially Great Britain, returning to South America only during the winter.
Without any formal academic training, or even a studio apprenticeship, Adriana Zaefferer has mastered the techniques of pastel drawing, oil painting, printmaking and sculpture, and she has even studied the difficult craft of bronze-casting. At first she specialized in horse portraiture, and a complete listing of her subjects reads like the world`s Who`s Who of thoroughbreds. Over the years she has commemorated the beauty of such world-class horses as Alleged, Brigadier Gerard, Bustino, Good Manners, Liloy, Mill Reef, Miss Toshiba, Northern Dancer, Pawneese and Shirley Heights. The artist`s international clientele includes her famous compatriot, the trainer Angel Penna, the American owner Ogden Mills Phipps, Michael Oswald, the manager of the royal stud, and H.M. Queen Elisabeth, for whom Adriana painted the 1974 Prix of Diane winner, Highclere, and her dam, Highlight.
Adriana Zaefferer soon learned to paint groups of horses accompanied by their grooms, trainers, riders and owners, as well as racing scenes and polo contests. Like Munnings, whose influence she readily acknowledges, she succeeds in capturing on paper or canvas the individual characteristics of the animals she depicts, their bone structure and musculature, the color and sheen of their coats, their special carriage or gait. In order to fully comprehend the strengths of the horses she paints and to portray then as the graceful, lithe, yet powerful and exciting creatures they are, she will observe them tirelessly, sometimes for days on end, sketching them both at rest and in motion. “What fascinates me about horses,” - she states rapturously, “ is their movements, their action. They are wholly aesthetic. You never see them in a vulgar or disagreeable pose. They are surrounded by a certain aura, which is difficult to explain but which exists nonetheless. I think that the most accurate descriptive would be `romantic.´ The horse´s personality, the marks of his race, all join so that one is really moved by his presence.”
To date, the artist has shown her work in exhibitions held in her native Argentina and in England. Paintings by her are in the collections of such renowned connoisseurs of f ine horse flesh as the Prince and Princess of Wales and Paul Mellon.


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