Horses of Saint Mark

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The replica Horses of Saint Mark San Marco horses.jpg
The replica Horses of Saint Mark
The original Horses in the museum Horses of Basilica San Marco bright.jpg
The original Horses in the museum

The Horses of Saint Mark (Italian : Cavalli di San Marco), also known as the Triumphal Quadriga, is a set of Roman 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.

Italian language Romance language

Italian is a Romance language of the Indo-European language family. Italian, together with Sardinian, is by most measures the closest language to Vulgar Latin of the Romance languages. Italian is an official language in Italy, Switzerland, San Marino and Vatican City. It has an official minority status in western Istria. It formerly had official status in Albania, Malta, Monaco, Montenegro (Kotor) and Greece, and is generally understood in Corsica and Savoie. It also used to be an official language in the former Italian East Africa and Italian North Africa, where it plays a significant role in various sectors. Italian is also spoken by large expatriate communities in the Americas and Australia. In spite of not existing any Italian community in their respective national territories and of not being spoken at any level, Italian is included de jure, but not de facto, between the recognized minority languages of Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania. Many speakers of Italian are native bilinguals of both standardized Italian and other regional languages.

Roman art the visual arts made in Ancient Rome and in the territories of the Roman Empire

Roman art refers to the visual arts made in Ancient Rome and in the territories of the Roman Empire. Roman art includes architecture, painting, sculpture and mosaic work. Luxury objects in metal-work, gem engraving, ivory carvings, and glass are sometimes considered in modern terms to be minor forms of Roman art, although this would not necessarily have been the case for contemporaries. Sculpture was perhaps considered as the highest form of art by Romans, but figure painting was also very highly regarded. The two forms have had very contrasting rates of survival, with a very large body of sculpture surviving from about the 1st century BC onward, though very little from before, but very little painting at all remains, and probably nothing that a contemporary would have considered to be of the highest quality.

Bronze metal alloy

Bronze is an alloy consisting primarily of copper, commonly with about 12–12.5% tin and often with the addition of other metals and sometimes non-metals or metalloids such as arsenic, phosphorus or silicon. These additions produce a range of alloys that may be harder than copper alone, or have other useful properties, such as stiffness, ductility, or machinability.

Contents

Origins

The sculptures date from classical antiquity and have been implausibly[ citation needed ] attributed to the 4th century BC Greek sculptor Lysippos. A date in the 2nd or 3rd century AD is considered far more likely; the famous Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius in Rome (c. 175 AD) provides a point of comparison. [1] They were probably created to top a triumphal arch or some other grand building, perhaps commissioned by the Emperor Septimus Severus. They may originally have been made for the Eastern capital of Constantinople, and certainly reached there later.

Classical antiquity Age of the ancient Greeks and the Romans

Classical antiquity is the period of cultural history between the 8th century BC and the 5th or 6th century AD centered on the Mediterranean Sea, comprising the interlocking civilizations of ancient Greece and ancient Rome known as the Greco-Roman world. It is the period in which Greek and Roman society flourished and wielded great influence throughout Europe, North Africa and Western Asia.

The Greeks or Hellenes are an ethnic group native to Greece, Cyprus, southern Albania, Italy, Turkey, Egypt and, to a lesser extent, other countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. They also form a significant diaspora, with Greek communities established around the world.

Although called bronze, analysis suggests that, as they are at least 96.67% copper, [2] they should be seen as an impure copper rather than bronze. The high tin content increased the casting temperature to 1200–1300 °C. [3] The high purity copper was chosen to give a more satisfactory mercury gilding.

Copper Chemical element with atomic number 29

Copper is a chemical element with symbol Cu and atomic number 29. It is a soft, malleable, and ductile metal with very high thermal and electrical conductivity. A freshly exposed surface of pure copper has a pinkish-orange color. Copper is used as a conductor of heat and electricity, as a building material, and as a constituent of various metal alloys, such as sterling silver used in jewelry, cupronickel used to make marine hardware and coins, and constantan used in strain gauges and thermocouples for temperature measurement.

Tin Chemical element with atomic number 50

Tin is a chemical element with the symbol Sn (from Latin: stannum) and atomic number 50. It is a post-transition metal in group 14 of the periodic table of elements. It is obtained chiefly from the mineral cassiterite, which contains stannic oxide, SnO2. Tin shows a chemical similarity to both of its neighbors in group 14, germanium and lead, and has two main oxidation states, +2 and the slightly more stable +4. Tin is the 49th most abundant element and has, with 10 stable isotopes, the largest number of stable isotopes in the periodic table, thanks to its magic number of protons. It has two main allotropes: at room temperature, the stable allotrope is β-tin, a silvery-white, malleable metal, but at low temperatures it transforms into the less dense grey α-tin, which has the diamond cubic structure. Metallic tin does not easily oxidize in air.

History

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 . [4] 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. [5] 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. [6]

Hippodrome of Constantinople Historic hippodrome in Istanbul

The Hippodrome of Constantinople was a circus that was the sporting and social centre of Constantinople, capital of the Byzantine Empire. Today it is a square named Sultanahmet Meydanı in the Turkish city of Istanbul, with a few fragments of the original structure surviving.

Chios Place in Greece

Chios is the fifth largest of the Greek islands, situated in the Aegean Sea, 7 kilometres (4.3 mi) off the Anatolian coast. The island is separated from Turkey by the Chios Strait. Chios is notable for its exports of mastic gum and its nickname is the Mastic Island. Tourist attractions include its medieval villages and the 11th-century monastery of Nea Moni, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Theodosius II Byzantine Emperor (401–450)

Theodosius II, commonly surnamed Theodosius the Younger, or Theodosius the Calligrapher, was the Eastern Roman Emperor for most of his life, taking the throne as an infant in 402 and ruling as the Eastern Empire's sole emperor after the death of his father Arcadius in 408. He is mostly known for promulgating the Theodosian law code, and for the construction of the Theodosian Walls of Constantinople. He also presided over the outbreak of two great Christological controversies, Nestorianism and Eutychianism.

In 1797, Napoleon had the horses forcibly removed from the basilica and carried off to Paris, where they were used in the design of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel together with a quadriga.

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris is one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts.

Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel triumphal arch in Paris

The Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel is a triumphal arch in Paris, located in the Place du Carrousel. It is an example of Corinthian style architecture. It was built between 1806 and 1808 to commemorate Napoleon's military victories of the previous year. The Arc de Triomphe de l'Étoile, at the far end of the Champs Élysées, was designed in the same year; it is about twice the size and was not completed until 1836.

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 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 thelid. [7]

Battle of Waterloo Battle of the Napoleonic Wars in which Napoleon was defeated

The Battle of Waterloo was fought on Sunday, 18 June 1815 near Waterloo in Belgium, part of the United Kingdom of the Netherlands at the time. A French army under the command of Napoleon Bonaparte was defeated by two of the armies of the Seventh Coalition: a British-led allied army under the command of the Duke of Wellington, and a Prussian army under the command of Field Marshal Blücher. The battle marked the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

Francis II, Holy Roman Emperor also known as Francis I, Emperor of Austria

Francis II was the last Holy Roman Emperor, ruling from 1792 until 6 August 1806, when he dissolved the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation after the decisive defeat at the hands of the First French Empire led by Napoleon at the Battle of Austerlitz. In 1804, he had founded the Austrian Empire and became Francis I, the first Emperor of Austria, ruling from 1804 to 1835, so later he was named the one and only Doppelkaiser in history. For the two years between 1804 and 1806, Francis used the title and style by the Grace of God elected Roman Emperor, ever Augustus, hereditary Emperor of Austria and he was called the Emperor of both the Holy Roman Empire and Austria. He was also Apostolic King of Hungary, Croatia and Bohemia as Francis I. He also served as the first president of the German Confederation following its establishment in 1815.

Conservation-restoration of the Horses of Saint Mark. HorsesSaintMark1.jpg
Conservation-restoration of the Horses of Saint Mark.

The horses remained in place over St Mark's 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.

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Quadriga racing chariot

A quadriga is a car or chariot drawn by four horses abreast. It was raced in the Ancient Olympic Games and other contests. It is represented in profile as the chariot of gods and heroes on Greek vases and in bas-relief. The quadriga was adopted in ancient Roman chariot racing. Quadrigas were emblems of triumph; Victory or Fame often are depicted as the triumphant woman driving it. In classical mythology, the quadriga is the chariot of the gods; Apollo was depicted driving his quadriga across the heavens, delivering daylight and dispersing the night.

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References

  1. Henig, Martin (ed), A Handbook of Roman Art, p. 95, Phaidon, 1983, ISBN   0714822140
  2. Anon 1979 The Horses of San Marco Thames and Hudson an English translation of a 1977 Venetian city government publication, p. 191
  3. Anon 1979, p. 199
  4. Parastaseis syntomoi chronikai, ch. 84.Th
  5. Houpt, Simon. Museum of the Missing: A history of Art Theft. Sterling Publishing Co,. Inc. p. 32. ISBN   1402728298 . Retrieved 18 September 2014.
  6. Petrarch, Rerum senilium, V., noted by Roberto Weiss, The Renaissance Discovery of Classical Antiquity (Oxford: Blackwell) 1973:35.
  7. A History of The Boissier-Scobell Families" by Henry Boissier, 1933 page 7.

Coordinates: 45°26′4.17″N12°20′21.73″E / 45.4344917°N 12.3393694°E / 45.4344917; 12.3393694