Arthur Spronken

Horse (1974, bronze)
Academia Building

Arthur Spronken – Paard (1974, brons)

In 1974 (?) Arthur Spronken (1930-2018) made the bronze sculpture of a horse torso that now hangs in Academy Building. Spronken achieved national and international fame with his robust sculptures of horses and people. A role in this was played by his father’s and grandfather’s love of horses—his father was a cigar manufacturer. The young Arthur was prepared for the trade, but went to the Kunstnijverheidsschool in Maastricht, where he studied from 1948 to 1952. Then he left for Milan for a year, to do an internship at the Accademia di belle Arti di Brera. There he was taught, among others, by Marino Marini, famous sculptor and specialist in horses.

Early on, Spronken's figurative sculptures revolved around movement, the dynamics of bodies, dancers and, later, horse torsos. The sculpture in Academia is an example of that way of working: the legs of the horses are only seen in onset, the impetus for the movement that takes place mainly in the rotating torso. In an interview in 2013, he said, "I'm a boy from the Limburg countryside and love the hills here. If I hadn't become an artist, I would probably be a farmer. Then you are a piece of nature, from which we borrow everything."

Spronken's work was well received, with a solo exhibition at the Frans Hals Museum in 1964 and a retrospective at the Beelden aan Zee Museum in Scheveningen in 1996. There, his monument to the royal family received a permanent place. Spronken was also a good friend of princess Beatrix, whom he taught to sculpt. Spronken's work has spread far and wide: more than a hundred of his sculptures can be found throughout the Netherlands in public spaces and buildings such as Academia.

In the 1990s, Spronken worked on a prestigious project to make a new copy of the famous statue of Emperor Marcus Aurelius in Rome. In the end, it didn't materialize, in his own words, because the Italian politician Berlusconi was obstructive. "He didn't want a foreigner to deal with Italian heritage."

More about history and academic heritage

The Tilburg University academic heritage is a very diverse set of archives, visual materials, collections, devices, recorded stories, et cetera that relate to the history of the university.