Dame Elisabeth Frink (1930–1993) was a leading figure in British sculpture and is renowned for being one of Britain's leading post-war sculptors.
Deborah, the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire, bought this work from the sculptor, with whom she shared a close friendship. War Horse, a larger than life-sized bronze sculpture, was bought by the Dowager Duchess in 1991 and was the first contemporary sculpture to be added to the ducal collection in over 150 years.
The sculpture originally stood at the south end of the canal pond opposite a bronze head of Dame Elisabeth Frink by Angela Conner. It was the 11th Duke who commissioned the posthumous head of the sculptor so that it could be placed overlooking War Horse.
War Horse was moved to the entrance of the stables in 2007. The scale of the piece suits its new location which originally accommodated horses.
The 12th Duke has commented on the horse and artist, "Liz Frink insisted that her sculpture was to be touched and sat upon and so it is gratifying to see the shiny marks where many children have sat to be photographed and to pretend to be riding this great beast. I hope that they noticed the eyes of the horse which have horse shoes shapes cut into them; that combined with the flattened ears, gives this animal a very fierce appearance, as you would expect for a War Horse."