Tuesday, November 24, 2020

The Horses of Saint Mark

These bronze beasts are so famous as history and symbol that it is easy to forget they are also beautiful art. The Venetians stole them from Constantinople in 1204, during the Fourth Crusade, and they were installed in front of St. Marks Cathedral. Napoleon stole them from Venice in 1797 but they were returned in 1815. They represent the horses of a quadriga or four-horse chariot. Everyone agrees they are ancient, but some hold for the 2nd or 3rd century AD and others for the 3rd or 4th century BC; there is even a faction that attributes them to the famous sculptor Lysippos. But whoever made them, they are just wonderful.


G. Verloren said...

For being roughly two millennia old, having spent a massive portion of that time sitting out in the elements, and being looted post-siege by invading armies on multiple occasions, they're in quite remarkable condition. (I can only assume they've had extensive restoration work done over the years, but still.)

And yes, they are quite beautiful in their own right, despite that often being overshadowed. They're one of my favorite pieces of history, AND one of my favorite pieces of art, which is a rare combination.

Kpgoog said...

The Medici Riccardi horse was on display 5 years ago in Washington DC. Amazing detail
and very close to the horses pictured here.