Horses of St Mark's

Public Art: Horses of St Mark's

Also Known As: Triumphal Quadriga

Sculptor: © Lysippos (This is only speculation)

Description: Four copper horses

Date: c. 4th century BC

Location: The "original" Triumphal Quadriga (minus the chariot) is currently residing inside St Mark's Bascilia in Venice due to corrosion. In their place are 4 bronze copies.

Things You May Not Know About the Horses of St Mark's :

Though the history of the Horses of St Mark's is rather sketchy, it is commonly believed that they were created around 390BC. By whom, is yet to be agreed apon.

The horses (which at one time included a chariot) once adorned the Hippodrome of Constantinople.

In 1204 Venetian crusaders raided the capital of the Byzantine Empire, taking with them the horses. The copper horses eventually ended up on the terrace of the facade of Mark's Basilica in 1254.

There they proudly stood for over 500 hundred years until Napoleon, in 1797, forcibly removed then and carted them off to Paris, where they were used in the design of the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel.

In 1815, following the Battle of Waterloo, Captain Dumaresq was given the task of taking the horses down from the Arc de Triomphe and returning them to their original place at St Mark's in Venice on the orders of the Emperor of Austria, Frances II.

In the 1980s the horses were replaced by replicas due to pollution and corrosion. The orginal horses are on display inside St Mark's Bascilica. 

Things You May Not Know About Lysippos :

Lysippos, Scopas and Praxiteles are considered to be the three greatest sculptors of the Classical Greek era.

Lysippos who was born around 390BC produced over 1,500 bronze sculptures. He was also self taught.

His specialty? eyelids and toenails.

One of his pupils, Chares of Lindos, constructed the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Lysippos was personal sculptor to Alexander the Great.

On 26 February 2010, Greek authorities arrested two men found in illegal possession of various antiquities, including a bronze statue of Alexander, which is possibly a work of Lysippos.It is currently being tested for authenticity. If it proves positive it will be the first original work of Lysippos ever discovered. Well, that is if you dismiss his involvement in creating the Horses of St Mark's.

What is a Quadriga? :

A quadriga is a chariot drawn by four horses which were often raced during the Ancient Olympic Games. Quadrigas became symbols of Victory and Triumph and are often depicted with either Victory (Victoria) or Fame (Pheme or Fama) behind the reigns of the chariot. Victory being the Roman Goddess and Fame being the Greek equivilent. In mythology the quadriga is the chariot of the gods. Apollo is often depicted driving his quadriga across the heavens.

All modern quadrigas are based on the Triumphal Quadriga or Horses of St Mark's in Venice.This being the only surviving quadriga from ancient times. The Venetian crusaders stole them in 1204 during the crusades from the Hippodrome of Constantinople. Nearly 500 years later Napoleon stole the horses from the Venetians and carted them off to Paris. They were later returned in 1815.

So Where are All The Quadrigas Around The World?

Brussels, Belgium - Quadriga of Brabant atop Parc du Cinquantenaire, by sculptors Thomas Vincotte and Jules Lagae.

London, England - Wellington Arch Quadriga atop the Wellington Arch, by sculptor Adrian Jones

Paris, France - Carrousel quadriga atop the Arc de Triomphe, by sculptor Baron François Joseph Bosio.

Paris , France - Two quadrigas atop the Grand Palais, Georges Recipon

Berlin, Germany - Quadriga of Victory atop the Brandenburg Gate, by sculptor Johann Gottfried Schadow.

Braunschweig, Germany - Quadriga atop the Royal Palace

Dresden, Germany - Panther Quadriga atop the Semperoper

Munich, German - A lion quadriga atop the Siegestor (Victory Gate), by sculptor Martin von Wagner

Rome, Italy - Quadriga dell'Unita atop the Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II, by sculptor Carlo Fontana

Venice, Italy - Horse's of St Mark's / Triumphal Quadriga, St Mark's Basilica, (Oldest surviving quadriga)

Moscow, Russia - Bolshoi Theatre Quadriga , sculptor Peter Clodt von Jurgensburg

Saint Petersburg, Russia - General Staff building Quadriga

Saint Petersburg, Russia - Alexandrinsky Theater Quadriga

Brooklyn, New York, USA - Grand Army Plaza Quadriga atop an arch , by sculptor Frederick William MacMonnies.

Detroit, Michigan, USA - Victory and Progress quadriga atop the Wayne County Building, by sculptor J. Massey Rhind

Minnesotta, USA - Progress of the State quadriga atop the Minnesota State Capitol, by sculptors Daniel Chester French and Edward Clark Potter

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