Hubby is touring his European roots right now with his daughters – his dream for several years now. All those business trips recently had racked up a ton of miles, so they are all now enjoying the fruits of his hard work!
Yesterday, Hubby sent back a few photos from St. Mark’s Square in Venice (Hubby does not have Italian roots – they are in Italy for the history). I was curious about the horse statues so I looked them up.
I found the set of four horses from the Basilica the most impressive.
THE HORSES OF ST MARK
To be honest, there wasn’t much information about these historic figures other than what Wikipedia provided, and a few tourists who blogged about them…
What I found most compelling is HOW LONG they’ve been around… Since before 1204!
For many of us Americans, we’ve never had the opportunity to go to any other country. So, unless we’ve been elsewhere to see (and feel) antiquities, we don’t really understand the age of other civilizations. Americans may be able to stroll around New England and feel the forefathers… but not like in Europe.
In Europe, the forefathers are from looooong ago LONG AGO and they’ve left many glorious remnants of their existence.
Like these horses in St. Marks Square.
The Horses of Saint Mark, also known as the Triumphal Quadriga, is a set of bronze statues of four horses, originally part of a monument depicting a quadriga (a four-horse carriage used for chariot racing) The horses were placed on the facade, on the loggia above the porch, of St Mark’s Basilica in Venice, northern Italy after the sack of Constantinople in 1204. They remained there until looted by Napoleon in 1797 but were returned in 1815. The sculptures have been removed from the facade and placed in the interior of St. Mark’s for conservation purposes, with replicas in their position on the loggia.
The sculptures date from classical antiquity and have been attributed to the 4th century BC Greek sculptor Lysippos, although this has not been widely accepted. Although called bronze, analysis suggests that as they are at least 96.67% copper, they should be seen as an impure copper rather than bronze. The high tin content increased the casting temperature to 1200–1300 °C. The high purity copper was chosen to give a more satisfactory mercury gilding. Given current knowledge of ancient technology, this method of manufacture suggests a Roman rather than a Hellenistic origin.
It is certain that the horses, along with the quadriga with which they were depicted were long displayed at the Hippodrome of Constantinople; they may be the “four gilt horses that stand above the Hippodrome” that “came from the island of Chios under Theodosius II” mentioned in the 8th- or early 9th-century Parastaseis syntomoi chronikai. They were still there in 1204, when they were looted by Venetian forces as part of the sack of the capital of the Byzantine Empire in the Fourth Crusade. The collars on the four horses were added in 1204 to obscure where the animals heads had been severed to allow them to be transported from Constantinople to Venice. Shortly after the Fourth Crusade, Doge Enrico Dandolo sent the horses to Venice, where they were installed on the terrace of the façade of St. Mark’s Basilica in 1254. Petrarch admired them there.
In 1815 the horses were returned to Venice by Captain Dumaresq. He had fought at the Battle of Waterloo and was with the allied forces in Paris where he was selected, by the Emperor of Austria, to take the horses down from the Arc de Triomphe and return them to their original place at St Mark’s in Venice. For the skillful manner in which he performed this work the Emperor gave him a gold snuff box with his initials in diamonds on the lid.
The horses remained in place over St. Marks until the early 1980s, when the ongoing damage from growing air pollution forced their replacement with exact copies. Since then, the originals have been on display just inside the basilica.
“It is certain that the horses, along with the quadriga with which they were depicted were long displayed at the Hippodrome of Constantinople; they may be the “four gilt horses that stand above the Hippodrome” that “came from the island of Chios under Theodosius II” mentioned in the 8th- or early 9th-century Parastaseis syntomoi chronikai”
To me, just the fact that Hubby was able to take a photo of these statues – is amazing, isn’t it?
To think that the sculptor who created these was working with whatever tools he had… and living at least 800 years ago – probably more. And, that crowds of people from another culture and time were enjoying them just like we are today.
That amazes me.