The word gallant once meant beautiful, even as applied to a woman. Now rare in that sense, as the dictionary says, except when referring to horses or ships. The Greeks understood the logic of this association of ideas around the word gallant. Aphrodite was born out of sea foam (an event familiar from Botticelli’s famous painting above) and Neptune was the God of horses as well as of the sea.
The triad of women, horses and ships represents the irreducible
grandeur of this world, and the sea somehow speaks for them all.
Probably the most famous work showing Neptune with his
horses is the Fontana di Trevi in Rome, in which we see two of the sea
god’s minions, the Tritons, leading the animals up from the deep.
Below is Uma Thurman as Aphrodite in The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen, with a seashell behind her — the best we can do these days but not bad, considering:
Somewhere between Botticelli and Gilliam lies the potent 19th-Century strangeness of Bourguereau, who saw the birth of Venus this way: