Writing in 1913 to his friend the American art historian Walter Pach, Raymond Duchamp-Villon declared, "The power of the machine imposes itself upon us and we can scarcely conceive living bodies without it." Clearly the artist had this idea in mind as he began to reinterpret traditional equestrian portraits, a symbol of power, for the modern era. Duchamp-Villon’s steed is not robustly muscular but composed of pistons, gears, shafts, and wheels that dynamically flow from one part to the next. The artist completed only a clay model for this sculpture during his lifetime. His brothers Jacques Villon and Marcel Duchamp later supervised casting the sculpture in bronze (1930–31). It was not until 1966 that Marcel Duchamp scaled the sculpture to one and a half times the size of the original. The result, Le Cheval Majeur, is a study of energy and dynamic equilibrium.

From Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 89 (2015)
Artist Raymond Duchamp-Villon, French, 1876-1918
Title
  • Le Cheval Majeur (The Large Horse)
Date modeled 1914, cast 1966
Medium bronze
Dimensions Overall: 59 × 58 1/2 × 31 1/2 inches, 1100 pounds (149.9 × 148.6 × 80 cm, 499 kg)
Credit Line Gift of A. Alfred Taubman
Accession Number 2006.153
Department European Modern Art to 1950
On View College for Creative Studies, Josephine F. Ford Sculpture Garden, Level o (see map)
Mme. Marcel Duchamp (Paris, France).
(Galerie Beyeler, Basel, Switzerland).
by 1988, private collection (Europe).
September 8-October 27, 2006, sold by (Sotheby's Chatsworth House sale, Derbyshire, England) lot 6;
2006, purchased by A. Alfred Taubman [1924-2015] (Bloomfield Hills, Michigan, USA);
2006–present, gift to the Detroit Institute of Arts by A. Alfred Taubman (Detroit, Michigan, USA)
Beyond Limits. Sales cat., Sotheby’s, Chatsworth, September 8, 2006–October 27, 2006, pp. 44–49 (ill.).

Wilkinson, MaryAnn. "June Feature" your DIA: A Magazine for Members (June 2007): front cover (ill.); p. 3 (ill.).

"Museum Acquisition 2007: A Selection" Apollo 166, no. 549 (December 2007): pp. 67–74, p. 72 (ill.).

Bulletin of the DIA: Notable Acquisitions, 2000–2015 89, no. 1/4 (2015), p. 44–45 (ill.).