Posted on 11/23/2008

Photo taken on October  1, 2008

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I could not resist ...

I could not resist ...
... confronted with so much dignity, power and beauty ... could you ...?

The Triumphal Quadriga or Horses of Saint Mark is a set of Roman or Greek bronze statues of four horses, originally part of a monument depicting a quadriga (a four-horse carriage used for chariot racing).

The sculptures date from late 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 copper content increased the casting temperature to 12-1300oC. 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.

Although their exact origin remains unknown, it is certain that the horses, along with the quadriga they were depicted with were long displayed at the Hippodrome of Constantinople. 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.

What happened the quadriga after the Fourth Crusade is unknown.
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.

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, although in 1815 the horses were returned. They remained in place over the basilica until the early 1980s, when the ongoing damage from growing air pollution forced their replacement with an exact replica.
Since then, the original quadriga has been on display just inside the basilica.

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