Horsemen On Rearing Horses Part 2: Europe in The 11th – Early 17th Centuries

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Bayeux Tapestry, 1070s, English or French

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Bayeux Tapestry is one of a kind, cr. 70 metres long, narrative embroidery depicting the events leading up to the Norman conquest of England, and culminating in the Battle of Hastings. It is probable that it was created in the 1070s for Odo of Bayeux, the Earl of Kent and Bishop of Bayeux, who was the half-brother of William the Conqueror. The authorship of the tapestry is disputed; there are reasons to believe it to be either English or French. It is certain however that it represents a unique blend of styles and influences.

According to F. Sidney Walls
,

Anglo-Saxon embroideries, which were famous at the time of the Conquest, are a Scandinavian art. … It was a well-established custom among the Teutonic tribes, after their migration from East Asia, to commemorate their exploits by elaborate paintings, sculpture, and embroideries. It was an instinctive urge which was probably. … In judging the Bayeux Tapestry one must take into consideration its artistic analogies with contemporary works of art – mainly, illuminated manuscripts of the tenth and eleventh centuries in England and France. … English and French medieval art was the result of a fusion of many foreign branches of art: Teutonic, Byzantine, and Greco-Roman. Not the least of all was the influence of Oriental art on the Teutons who originally came from the hinterland of East Asia. … The Bayeux Tapestry seems to be a well-balanced fusion of two diametrically opposed styles – Norse and Saxon-Romanesque. The Viking art brought to England nothing but abstract barbaric ornament. Winchester painting and drawing represented classical Hellenistic tradition principally concerned with the natural portrayal of the human figure. … Medieval art has no clear-cut national boundaries; therefore, my conclusion is that the Bayeux Tapestry style is a transitional one bridging the gap between the Saxon-Romanesque and the so-called International Gothic. … The impartial viewpoint makes the origin of the tapestry appear to be more Anglo-Saxon than Norman.

Predictably, the last statement is hotly disputed by French art historians!.. It is difficult not to be lost in the maze of suggested influences:

This tapestry is a “linear” narrative of the Norman conquest of England, very comparable with modern graphic novels. As such, it is similar to Trajan's Column in Rome completed in 113 AD. It is possible that this format has been invented from scratch, but it is also possible that there was a continuity but the art objects that constitute the link have perished.

Forced march of light troops (Scene XXXVI); Cavalry battle against Sarmatians (Scene XXXVII); Trajan's Column, 113 AD, Rome
Forced march of light troops (Scene XXXVI); Cavalry battle against Sarmatians (Scene XXXVII); Trajan's Column,
113 AD, Rome
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Forced march of Trajan on horseback (Scene LXXXIX); Trajan is greeted by some barbarians (Scene XC); Trajan's Column, 113 AD, Rome
Forced march of Trajan on horseback (Scene LXXXIX); Trajan is greeted by some barbarians (Scene XC); Trajan's Column,
113 AD, Rome
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Floor Tiles, 12th – 20th centuries

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The idea of tiles as mass-produced regularly-shaped objects with the repetitive design used to decorate the buildings is not new – it appeared in the 6th century BC if not earlier.

Later, it was reinvented in cr. 12th century AD. We regularly see the motif of a horseman on a rearing horse on floor tiles in the 12th-15th centuries in England, Wales, modern-day France and Germany. In England, the surviving tiles come from churches and abbeys and the horsemen are almost always Richard I of England and Saladin; in other countries, most were anonymous huntsmen and knights.

Inlaid tile showing a hunter on horseback and a dog, medieval, Chapter House, Westminster Abbey, London, U.K.
Inlaid tile showing a hunter on horseback and a dog,
medieval, Chapter House, Westminster Abbey, London, U.K.
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Inlaid floor tile showing a crusader, after 1185, Triforium of Temple Church, London, U.K.
Inlaid floor tile showing a crusader,
after 1185, Triforium of Temple Church, London, U.K.
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Inlaid floor tile showing Richard I (Coeur de Lion) in combat with his adversary Saladin, 1250s, Chertsey Abbey, Chertsey, England
Inlaid floor tile showing Richard I (Coeur de Lion) in combat with his adversary Saladin,
1250s, Chertsey Abbey, Chertsey, England
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Impressed floor tile showing a knight on horsebacke, cr. 1250-75, Germany
Impressed floor tile showing a knight on horsebacke,
cr. 1250-75, Germany
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Inlaid tile showing the battle of Richard I and Saladin, cr. 1250-70, Cleeve Abbey, Somerset, U.K.
Inlaid tile showing the battle of Richard I and Saladin,
cr. 1250-70, Cleeve Abbey, Somerset, U.K.
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Inlaid tiles showing the battle of Richard I and Saladin, cr. 1250-70, Cleeve Abbey, Somerset, U.K
Inlaid tiles showing the battle of Richard I and Saladin,
cr. 1250-70, Cleeve Abbey, Somerset, U.K
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Lead-glazed inlaid floor tile showing a knight on horseback, charging and firing a crossbow,  13th century, Chertsey Abbey, Chertsey, England
Lead-glazed inlaid floor tile showing a knight on horseback, charging and firing a crossbow,
13th century, Chertsey Abbey, Chertsey, England
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Inlaid (limestone incrusted with lead) tile showing three knights (a scene from the Old Testament), 13th century, Saint Eligius chapel, in the former Saint Nicasius church of Reims, Marne, France
Inlaid (limestone incrusted with lead) tile showing three knights (a scene from the Old Testament),
13th century, Saint Eligius chapel, in the former Saint Nicasius church of Reims, Marne, France
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Inlaid tile showing a hunter with a dog, 13th-15th century, Laon region, France
Inlaid tile showing a hunter with a dog,
13th-15th century, Laon region, France
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Inlaid tiles showing the battle of Richard I and Saladin, cr. 1340, Neath Abbey, Wales, U.K.
Inlaid tiles showing the battle of Richard I and Saladin,
cr. 1340, Neath Abbey, Wales, U.K.
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An inlaid tile showing Richard I attacking Saladin, medieval, Glastonbury Abbey, U.K.
An inlaid tile showing Richard I attacking Saladin,
medieval, Glastonbury Abbey, U.K.
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Inlaid tile showing a horseman brandishing a spear, 15th century, Burgundy, France
Inlaid tile showing a horseman brandishing a spear,
15th century, Burgundy, France
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COMPARANDUM: Tile with a winged griffon and a horseman, 6th century BC, Asia Minor
COMPARANDUM: Tile with a winged griffon and a horseman,
6th century BC, Asia Minor
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COMPARANDUM: Tile with a winged griffon and a horseman, 6th century BC, Asia Minor
COMPARANDUM: Tile with a winged griffon and a horseman,
6th century BC, Asia Minor
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In the 19th century, the interest in tiles with knights was revived. It was championed by Grueby Faience Company, an American company that existed in 1894-1920 and was part of Arts and Crafts Movement. Some of its tiles are still decorating the floors, while others are on sale in the picture galleries and are auctioned by the leading auction houses.

While the subjects of Grueby tiles presented here are perfectly Christian, the technique used to make them, cuerda seca, has originated in central Asia in the 14th century and flourished in the Middle East in the 15th – 17th centuries, well before being introduced in Christian Europe.

Lead-glazed inlaid floor tile showing a knight on horseback, 1845-1860, Chertsey, England
Lead-glazed inlaid floor tile showing a knight on horseback,
1845-1860, Chertsey, England
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Cuenca and cuerda seca floor tile depicting St George and the dragon, cr. 1900, Grueby Faience Company, U.S.A.
Cuenca and cuerda seca floor tile depicting St George and the dragon,
cr. 1900, Grueby Faience Company, U.S.A.
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Floor tile showing a knight on horseback (still decorating a floor), cr. 1910, Grueby Faience Company, U.S.A.
Floor tile showing a knight on horseback (still decorating a floor),
cr. 1910, Grueby Faience Company, U.S.A.
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Floor tile showing a knight on horseback (framed, on sale in a picture gallery), cr. 1910, Grueby Faience Company, U.S.A.
Floor tile showing a knight on horseback (framed, on sale in a picture gallery),
cr. 1910, Grueby Faience Company, U.S.A.
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COMPARANDUM: Cuerda seca tile Arch, cr. 1685, Isfahan, Iran
COMPARANDUM: Cuerda seca tile Arch,
cr. 1685, Isfahan, Iran
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Renaissance tapestries, 12th – 20th centuries

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Tapestry is an ancient form of textile art which has been practised all over the world for thousands of years. We have already seen the Egyptian (Coptic) tapestries.

One of the most expensive and time-consuming crafts, tapestry-making only truly flourished in Europe from the Middle Ages onwards, at the hands of French and (later) Flemish weavers. The major tapestry-making centres existed at Arras, Tournai and Brussels. While the designs have become very sophisticated, the linear perspective, while widely used in painting from the beginning of the 15th century, was ignored in tapestry until the 16th century.

Love Story of William of Orlens and the King of England's daughter Amelie, cr. 1410-30, Middle Rhine region, Germany
Love Story of William of Orlens and the King of England's daughter Amelie,
cr. 1410-30, Middle Rhine region, Germany
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Meleager and Atalanta Setting Out to Hunt the Calydonian Boar, cr. 1475, Netherlandish or Flemish
Meleager and Atalanta Setting Out to Hunt the Calydonian Boar,
cr. 1475, Netherlandish or Flemish
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The War with Gondebaud (tapestry series 'The History of Clovis'), 15th century, Arras, France
The War with Gondebaud (tapestry series 'The History of Clovis'),
15th century, Arras, France
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Stag hunt mille-fleurs tapestry, cr. 1500, Franco-Flemish
Stag hunt mille-fleurs tapestry,
cr. 1500, Franco-Flemish
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Illuminated manuscripts, 12th – 14th centuries

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Italy

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Liber ad honorem Augusti: Praise For Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor, 1196

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The Liber ad honorem Augusti sive de rebus Siculis (“Book in honour of the Emperor, or on Sicilian affairs”; also called Carmen de motibus Siculis, “Poem on the Sicilian revolt”) is an illustrated narrative epic in Latin elegiac couplets, written in Palermo in 1196 by Peter of Eboli.

It tells the story of Tancred of Lecce‘s attempt to take control of Sicily, an attempt thwarted by the successful military campaign of Henry VI, Holy Roman Emperor. Liber ad honorem Augusti is a poem composed in honour of Henry VI, lavishly illustrated and intended to be presented to him. The fierce caricatures of Tancred, who is depicted as almost ape-like in stature and features, match the propagandistic bias of the text.

Roger II of Sicily from the 'Liber ad honorem Augusti' of Petrus of Ebulo, 1196, Palermo, Sicily
Roger II of Sicily from the 'Liber ad honorem Augusti' of Petrus of Ebulo,
1196, Palermo, Sicily
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Frederick Barbarossa and his crusaders, illustration of 'Liber ad honorem Augusti' by Peter of Eboli, 1196, Palermo, Sicily
Frederick Barbarossa and his crusaders, illustration of 'Liber ad honorem Augusti' by Peter of Eboli,
1196, Palermo, Sicily
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Portrait of Diepold von Schweinspeunt, illustration of 'Liber ad honorem Augusti' by Peter of Eboli, 1196, Palermo, Sicily
Portrait of Diepold von Schweinspeunt, illustration of 'Liber ad honorem Augusti' by Peter of Eboli,
1196, Palermo, Sicily
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The enthronement of emperor Henry VI, illustration of 'Liber ad honorem Augusti' by Peter of Eboli, 1196, Palermo, Sicily
The enthronement of emperor Henry VI, illustration of 'Liber ad honorem Augusti' by Peter of Eboli,
1196, Palermo, Sicily
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Convenevole da Prato, Carmina regia: Plea To Robert of Anjou, King of Naples, cr. 1335-1340

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Miniature of an armed knight of Prato on horseback (a manuscript illustration), c. 1335-40, Pacino di Buonaguida (attribution), Italy
Miniature of an armed knight of Prato on horseback (a manuscript illustration),
c. 1335-40, Pacino di Buonaguida (attribution), Italy
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Coat of arms of the province of Prato, Tuscany, Italy
Coat of arms of the province of Prato,
Tuscany, Italy
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Monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi, 1913, Antonio Garella, La Spezia, Italy
Monument to Giuseppe Garibaldi,
1913, Antonio Garella, La Spezia, Italy
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Monument to Anita Garibaldi,1932, Mario Rutelli, Rome, Italy
Monument to Anita Garibaldi,
1932, Mario Rutelli, Rome, Italy
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Convenevole da Prato, Carmina regia is the address to Robert of Anjou, King of Naples of the city of Prato from the town of Prato in Tuscany, which had placed itself under his protection in cr. 1335-1340. This address in Latin verse is attributed to Convenevole da Prato (c. 1270/5-1338), a professor of grammar and rhetoric most famous as Petrarch‘s teacher. The horseman illustration is attributed to Pacino di Buonaguida. In the address, the city of Prato beseeches the King to unite the Italian peninsula under his rule and restore the papacy to Rome.

The horseman from this manuscript has later achieved prominence by featuring on the coat of arms of the province of Prato, which is located in Tuscany and is the second smallest Italian province.

And, of course, Italian unification would only be completed in 1871 by Giuseppe Garibaldi, along with his Brazilian wife Anita.

Nuova Cronica of Florence, mid 14th century

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Nuova Cronica is a 14th-century history of Florence written by the Italian banker and official Giovanni Villani (c. 1276 or 1280–1348). It has been described as the first introduction of statistics as a positive element in history. The illustrations to the first edition (now in the Vatican Library) were executed by the Florentine artist Pacino di Buonaguida.

Nuova cronica illustration (Battle of Benevento, 1266), mid 14th century, Pacino di Buonaguida, Florence, Italy
Nuova cronica illustration (Battle of Benevento, 1266),
mid 14th century, Pacino di Buonaguida, Florence, Italy
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Nuova cronica illustration (battle of Benevento, 1266), mid 14th century, Pacino di Buonaguida, Florence, Italy
Nuova cronica illustration (battle of Benevento, 1266),
mid 14th century, Pacino di Buonaguida, Florence, Italy
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Nuova cronica illustration (Peter III of Aragon is wounded, 1285), mid 14th century, Pacino di Buonaguida, Florence, Italy
Nuova cronica illustration (Peter III of Aragon is wounded, 1285),
mid 14th century, Pacino di Buonaguida, Florence, Italy
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Nuova cronica illustration (attack of Pope Boniface VII at his Palace in Anagni, 1303), mid 14th century, Pacino di Buonaguida, Florence, Italy
Nuova cronica illustration (attack of Pope Boniface VII at his Palace in Anagni, 1303),
mid 14th century, Pacino di Buonaguida, Florence, Italy
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Nuova cronica illustration (battle of Mons-en-Pevele, 1304), mid 14th century, Pacino di Buonaguida, Florence, Italy
Nuova cronica illustration (battle of Mons-en-Pevele, 1304),
mid 14th century, Pacino di Buonaguida, Florence, Italy
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Illustration of Decameron, early 15th century

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Boccaccio, Decameron: the story of Nastagio degli Onesti, 1401-24, Ludovico Ceffini, Florence, Italy
Boccaccio, Decameron: the story of Nastagio degli Onesti,
1401-24, Ludovico Ceffini, Florence, Italy
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COMPARANDUM: The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti I, 1482-3, Sandro Botticelli, Florence, Italy
COMPARANDUM: The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti I,
1482-3, Sandro Botticelli, Florence, Italy
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There is one illustration to Giovanni Boccaccio‘s Decameron, it shows a scene from Nastagio degli Onesti. Later in the 15th century, Sandro Botticelli will create a much more elaborate depiction of the same scene.

Codex Capodilista, mid 15th century

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Giovan Francesco Capodilista (cr. 1380 – 1459) was an Italian lawyer and diplomat from Padua. In 1433 he participated, as legate of the Republic of Venice, at the Council of Basel.

During his stay in Basel he was able to consult some manuscripts, which had already belonged to Bartolomeo di Guglielmo della Scala. Among them, there was a code compiled since 1258 by a Paduan citizen, the judge Antonio d’Alessio, who attracted the annals of Padua, drawn from more ancient memories of other medieval writers, aroused his interest. In particular, the code contained numerous biographical information about the families of Padua. The Capodilista was able to extrapolate a lot of information about his ancestors, and compiled his own code, Codex Capodilista. In this manuscript, there are twenty-six rich miniatures, representing as many family characters, knights, prelates and men of arms, dating back to the most ancient times of the High Middle Ages.

Illustration to Codex Capodilista by Giovan Francesco Capodilista, 1433-1459, ?, Padua, Italy
Illustration to Codex Capodilista by Giovan Francesco Capodilista, 1433-1459,
?, Padua, Italy
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Illustration to Codex Capodilista by Giovan Francesco Capodilista, 1433-1459, ?, Padua, Italy
Illustration to Codex Capodilista by Giovan Francesco Capodilista, 1433-1459,
?, Padua, Italy
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Illustration to Codex Capodilista by Giovan Francesco Capodilista, 1433-1459, ?, Padua, Italy
Illustration to Codex Capodilista by Giovan Francesco Capodilista, 1433-1459,
?, Padua, Italy
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Illustration to Codex Capodilista by Giovan Francesco Capodilista, 1433-1459, ?, Padua, Italy
Illustration to Codex Capodilista by Giovan Francesco Capodilista, 1433-1459,
?, Padua, Italy
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europe north of the alps

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Medieval tournaments, 13th – 16th centuries

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A knight receiving a lady's favour at a tournament, illustration of Codex Manesse, cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
A knight receiving a lady's favour at a tournament, illustration of Codex Manesse,
cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
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A tournament, or tourney, was a chivalrous competition or mock fight in the Middle Ages and Renaissance in the 12th to 16th centuries. Tournaments centred on the mêlée, a general fight where the knights were divided into two sides and came together in a charge.

Jousting, a single combat of two knights riding at each other, was a component of the tournament, but was never its main feature.

In art, we find the depictions of tournaments mostly in illuminated manuscripts and in frescoes. With one exception, all art objects were created North of the Alps. Some of the depictions below show the real battles, but, since the iconography is so similar, they belong to the same category.

Frescoes illustrating the conquest of the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily by the Count of Provence Charles of Anjou, 13th century, The Ferrande Tower, Pernes-les-Fontaines, Provence, France
Frescoes illustrating the conquest of the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily by the Count of Provence Charles of Anjou,
13th century, The Ferrande Tower, Pernes-les-Fontaines, Provence, France
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Frescoes illustrating the conquest of the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily by the Count of Provence Charles of Anjou, 13th century, The Ferrande Tower, Pernes-les-Fontaines, Provence, France
Frescoes illustrating the conquest of the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily by the Count of Provence Charles of Anjou,
13th century, The Ferrande Tower, Pernes-les-Fontaines, Provence, France
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Frescoes illustrating the conquest of the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily by the Count of Provence Charles of Anjou, 13th century, The Ferrande Tower, Pernes-les-Fontaines, Provence, France
Frescoes illustrating the conquest of the Kingdom of Naples and Sicily by the Count of Provence Charles of Anjou,
13th century, The Ferrande Tower, Pernes-les-Fontaines, Provence, France
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Tournament scene, fresco, 1289, Azzo di Masetto, Palazzo Comunale, San Gimignano, Italy
Tournament scene, fresco,
1289, Azzo di Masetto, Palazzo Comunale, San Gimignano, Italy
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Ladies watching knights jousting, illustrating 'Le Duc des vrais amants', from a collection of works presented in 1414 by Christine de Pizan to Isabeau of Bavaria, 1410 - cr. 1414, Paris (?), France
Ladies watching knights jousting, illustrating 'Le Duc des vrais amants', from a collection of works presented in 1414 by Christine de Pizan to Isabeau of Bavaria,
1410 - cr. 1414, Paris (?), France
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Illustration of Sir Thomas Holme's Book of Arms, cr. 1446, before 1448, London (?), South-East England
Illustration of Sir Thomas Holme's Book of Arms,
cr. 1446, before 1448, London (?), South-East England
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Illustration of Sir Thomas Holme's Book of Arms, cr. 1446, before 1448, London (?), South-East England
Illustration of Sir Thomas Holme's Book of Arms,
cr. 1446, before 1448, London (?), South-East England
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Illustration of Sir Thomas Holme's Book of Arms, cr. 1446, before 1448, London (?), South-East England
Illustration of Sir Thomas Holme's Book of Arms,
cr. 1446, before 1448, London (?), South-East England
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Illustration of Livre des tournois France Provence by René d'Anjou, cr. 1460, Barthélemy d'Eyck, Provence, France
Illustration of Livre des tournois France Provence by René d'Anjou,
cr. 1460, Barthélemy d'Eyck, Provence, France
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Illustration of the Medieval House Book of Wolfegg Castle, cr. 1480, German
Illustration of the Medieval House Book of Wolfegg Castle,
cr. 1480, German
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Illustration of the Tournament Book (Ross 711), cr. 1500, German
Illustration of the Tournament Book (Ross 711),
cr. 1500, German
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Illustration of the Housebook of the Lords of Hallwil, second half of the 16th century, German (now Switzerland)
Illustration of the Housebook of the Lords of Hallwil,
second half of the 16th century, German (now Switzerland)
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English Chronica Majora, mid 13th century

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The Chronica Majora has long been considered a contemporary attempt to present a universal history of the world. The Chronica is the seminal work of Matthew Paris, a member of the English Benedictine community of St. Albans and long-celebrated historian. The work begins with Creation and contains annals up until the year of Paris’s death, 1259. It was written in Latin and richly illustrated.

Richard Marshal unhorses Baldwin Guines at a skirmish before the Battle of Monmouth, 1233, illustration to Chronica Majora, 13th century, St. Albans, England
Richard Marshal unhorses Baldwin Guines at a skirmish before the Battle of Monmouth, 1233, illustration to Chronica Majora,
13th century, St. Albans, England
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Battle of Bouvines, 1214, illustration to Chronica Majora, 13th century, St. Albans, England
Battle of Bouvines, 1214, illustration to Chronica Majora,
13th century, St. Albans, England
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Edmund Ironside (left) and Cnut the Great at the battle of Assandun, 1016, illustration to Chronica Majora, 14th century, St. Albans, England
Edmund Ironside (left) and Cnut the Great at the battle of Assandun, 1016, illustration to Chronica Majora,
14th century, St. Albans, England
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French fictional novels, late 13th century

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In late 13th century, in the north of France, appeared an illuminatd manuscript containing four fictional novels. It is heavily illuminated; some illustrations feature horsemen on rearing horses!

French novel illustration, 1275-90, Maître du Graal, North France
French novel illustration,
1275-90, Maître du Graal, North France
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French novel illustration, 1275-90, Maître du Graal, North France
French novel illustration,
1275-90, Maître du Graal, North France
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French novel illustration, 1275-90, Maître du Graal, North France
French novel illustration,
1275-90, Maître du Graal, North France
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French novel illustration, 1275-90, Maître du Graal, North France
French novel illustration,
1275-90, Maître du Graal, North France
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French novel illustration, 1275-90, Maître du Graal, North France
French novel illustration,
1275-90, Maître du Graal, North France
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German Poetry in Codex Manesse, Hungary, early 14th century

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The Codex Manesse is a book of songs and poetry, the single most comprehensive source of Middle High German Minnesang poetry, written and illustrated between c. 1304 when the main part was completed, and c. 1340 with the addenda. The codex was produced in Zürich, for the Manesse family. The manuscript is the most beautifully illumined German manuscript in centuries.

Illustration of Codex Manesse, cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
Illustration of Codex Manesse,
cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
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Illustration of Codex Manesse, cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
Illustration of Codex Manesse,
cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
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Illustration of Codex Manesse, cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
Illustration of Codex Manesse,
cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
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Illustration of Codex Manesse, cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
Illustration of Codex Manesse,
cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
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Illustration of Codex Manesse, cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
Illustration of Codex Manesse,
cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
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Illustration of Codex Manesse, cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
Illustration of Codex Manesse,
cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
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Illustration of Codex Manesse, cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
Illustration of Codex Manesse,
cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
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Illustration of Codex Manesse, cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
Illustration of Codex Manesse,
cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
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Illustration of Codex Manesse, cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
Illustration of Codex Manesse,
cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
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Illustration of Codex Manesse, cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
Illustration of Codex Manesse,
cr. 1304 or cr. 1340, Zürich, Switzerland
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Chronicon Pictum, Hungary, mid 14th century

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The Chronicon Pictum is a medieval illustrated chronicle from the Kingdom of Hungary. It was completed shortly after the year 1358, with the last of the illuminations being finished between 1370 and 1373. The chronicle was given by the Hungarian king Louis I to the French king Charles V, when the daughter of Louis, Catherine, was engaged to Charles’s son Louis I, Duke of Orléans.

Attila besieges Aquileia (452), 1350-73, Chronicon Pictum, Kingdom of Hungary
Attila besieges Aquileia (452),
1350-73, Chronicon Pictum, Kingdom of Hungary
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The battle of Mogyoród (1074), 1350-73, Chronicon Pictum, Kingdom of Hungary
The battle of Mogyoród (1074),
1350-73, Chronicon Pictum, Kingdom of Hungary
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The battle of Posada (1330), 1350-73, Chronicon Pictum, Kingdom of Hungary
The battle of Posada (1330),
1350-73, Chronicon Pictum, Kingdom of Hungary
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Illuminated Manuscript Illustrations of the 15th century

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As the society develops, more images of horsemen (and, interestingly, the horsewomen) start to appear in the illuminated manuscripts.

Hart-hunting with greyhounds and raches, illustration of The Hunting Book of Gaston Phebus, early 15th century, France
Hart-hunting with greyhounds and raches, illustration of The Hunting Book of Gaston Phebus,
early 15th century, France
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Deer-hunting with greyhounds, illustration of The Hunting Book of Gaston Phebus, early 15th century, France
Deer-hunting with greyhounds, illustration of The Hunting Book of Gaston Phebus,
early 15th century, France
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Wenceslaus I of Bohemia, early 15th century, Iglau, Bohemia, now Jihlava, Czech Republic
Wenceslaus I of Bohemia,
early 15th century, Iglau, Bohemia, now Jihlava, Czech Republic
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Month of May, illustration of The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry, 1485-89, Jean Colombe, Paris, France
Month of May, illustration of The Very Rich Hours of the Duke of Berry,
1485-89, Jean Colombe, Paris, France
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How Alexander the Great Mounted Bucephalus (a manuscript illustration), mid-1400s, Burgundy
How Alexander the Great Mounted Bucephalus (a manuscript illustration),
mid-1400s, Burgundy
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Second battle between Alexander the Great and Darius III, cr. 1470-75, France
Second battle between Alexander the Great and Darius III,
cr. 1470-75, France
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Battle of Agincourt, from the 'St. Alban's Chronicle' by Thomas Walsingham, 15th century, English with Flemish illuminations
Battle of Agincourt, from the 'St. Alban's Chronicle' by Thomas Walsingham,
15th century, English with Flemish illuminations
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Joust between Pierre de Courtenay and the Sire de Clary, cr. 1470-5, Flemish
Joust between Pierre de Courtenay and the Sire de Clary,
cr. 1470-5, Flemish
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Detail of a miniature of the Three Living and the Three Dead at the beginning of the Office of the Dead, cr. 1500, the Hours of Joanna I of Castile, Ghent?, Southern Netherlands
Detail of a miniature of the Three Living and the Three Dead at the beginning of the Office of the Dead,
cr. 1500, the Hours of Joanna I of Castile, Ghent?, Southern Netherlands
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Miniature of the Three Living and the Three Dead on a tipped-in leaf, first half of the 16th century, Psalter, Augsburg?, Germany
Miniature of the Three Living and the Three Dead on a tipped-in leaf,
first half of the 16th century, Psalter, Augsburg?, Germany
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Wars Of Christians and Muslim And Turkic Peoples in art in the 13th – 16th centuries

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Crusades in the Eastern Mediterranean in the 11th – 13th centuries

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brief history of the Crusades in the Eastern Mediterranean

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Siege of Jerusalem, 1099, illustration to History of Jerusalem by William of Tyre, 1295, Kingdom of Jerusalem
Siege of Jerusalem, 1099, illustration to History of Jerusalem by William of Tyre,
1295, Kingdom of Jerusalem
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The fall of Tripoli to the Mamluks, April 1289, 13th-14th centuries (?), ?
The fall of Tripoli to the Mamluks, April 1289,
13th-14th centuries (?), ?
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Fall of Constantinople (1453), 1932, Theophilos Hatzimihail, Greece
Fall of Constantinople (1453),
1932, Theophilos Hatzimihail, Greece
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Crusades in the Eastern Mediterranean have started with Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos sent envoys to the Council of Piacenza in 1095, requesting Pope Urban‘s assistance in recruiting a body of western knights to serve in the Byzantine army in the fight with the Seljuk Turks. The first crusade resulted in taking Jerusalem from the Fatimid Caliphate and laying the foundations for the Kingdom of Jerusalem and other crusader states.

Eight more crusades have followed.

One noteworthy event is the siege and sack of Constantinople in 1204, during the Fourth Crusade. Crusader armies captured, looted, and destroyed parts of Constantinople, the capital of the Byzantine Empire. After the capture of the city, most of the Byzantine Empire’s territories were divided up among the Crusaders. Byzantine aristocrats also established a number of small independent splinter states, one of them being the Empire of Nicaea, which would eventually recapture Constantinople in 1261 and proclaim the reinstatement of the Empire. However, the restored Empire never managed to reclaim its former territorial or economic strength, and eventually fell to the rising Ottoman Sultanate in the fall of Constantinople in 1453.

The ninth crusade, 1271–1272, was the last of the Crusades to reach the Holy Land. It resulted in several important victories, but the interest of European states in the affairs of Holy Land has died out. In the following decades, the fall of Tripoli (1289), followed by the fall of Acre (1291) and the fall of Ruad (1302 – 1303), meant that the Crusaders no longer controlled any part of the Holy Land.

Crusades in the Illuminated manuscripts

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Illuminated manuscripts constitute a primary source of information (and miniatures with the horsemen on rearing horses!) on the crusades. Among them, we can highlight an Historia Ierosolimitana (“History of Jerusalem”) written between 1170 and 1184 by William of Tyre, an archbishop of the Kingdom of Jerusalem, Chronica Majora written and illuminated between 1240 and 1259 by Matthew Paris, a Benedictine monk at St Albans Abbey in England, and Passages d'outremer written by Sébastien Mamerot in 1472 – 1474 and illuminated in 1474 – 1479 by Jean Colombe.

Battle Of Inab, 1149, illustration to Passages d'outremer, 1472-75, Jean Colombe, Paris, France
Battle Of Inab, 1149, illustration to Passages d'outremer,
1472-75, Jean Colombe, Paris, France
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Murder of Stephen Hagiochristophorites by Isaac II Angelos, 11 September 1185, illustration to Passages d'outremer, 1472-75, Jean Colombe, Paris, France
Murder of Stephen Hagiochristophorites by Isaac II Angelos, 11 September 1185, illustration to Passages d'outremer,
1472-75, Jean Colombe, Paris, France
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Battle of Cresson, 1 May 1187, illustration to Passages d'outremer, 1472-75, Jean Colombe, Paris, France
Battle of Cresson, 1 May 1187, illustration to Passages d'outremer,
1472-75, Jean Colombe, Paris, France
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The Battle of Hattin, 4 July 1187, illustration to Chronica Majora, 13th century, St. Albans, England
The Battle of Hattin, 4 July 1187, illustration to Chronica Majora,
13th century, St. Albans, England
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Battle of Tyre, 12 Nov 1187 - 1 Jan 1188, illustration to Passages d'outremer, 1472-75, Jean Colombe, Paris, France
Battle of Tyre, 12 Nov 1187 - 1 Jan 1188, illustration to Passages d'outremer,
1472-75, Jean Colombe, Paris, France
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Battle of Damietta, 1218, illustration to Chronica Majora, 13th century, St. Albans, England
Battle of Damietta, 1218, illustration to Chronica Majora,
13th century, St. Albans, England
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Battle of Nicopolis, 25 September 1396, illustration to Passages d'outremer, 1472-75, Jean Colombe, Paris, France
Battle of Nicopolis, 25 September 1396, illustration to Passages d'outremer,
1472-75, Jean Colombe, Paris, France
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Crusader Bible created for Louis IX of France (Saint Louis) in 1240s

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The Morgan Bible, also called the Crusader Bible or Maciejowski Bible, is believed to be created for Louis IX of France in Paris in the mid-1240s. The book consists of paintings of events from Hebrew scripture, given a setting in the customs and costumes of thirteenth-century France, and concentrating on stories of kings, especially David. There are incredibly violent battle scenes in which the implements of war are so accurately depicted they could be replicated. All scenes are set in thirteenth-century France.

Louis IX of France, commonly known as Saint Louis, is the only King of France to be canonized in the Catholic Church. His religious nature – he was viewing himself as a “lieutenant of God on Earth” – prompted him to conduct two crusades, to forbid all forms of usury, and to expand the scope of the inquisition in France. Louis IX is often considered the model of the ideal Christian monarch. The impact of his canonization was so great that many of his successors were named Louis.

Illustration to Crusader Bible, mid-1240s, Paris, France
Illustration to Crusader Bible,
mid-1240s, Paris, France
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Illustration to Crusader Bible, mid-1240s, Paris, France
Illustration to Crusader Bible,
mid-1240s, Paris, France
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Illustration to Crusader Bible, mid-1240s, Paris, France
Illustration to Crusader Bible,
mid-1240s, Paris, France
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Illustration to Crusader Bible, mid-1240s, Paris, France
Illustration to Crusader Bible,
mid-1240s, Paris, France
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Illustration to Crusader Bible, mid-1240s, Paris, France
Illustration to Crusader Bible,
mid-1240s, Paris, France
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Illustration to Crusader Bible, mid-1240s, Paris, France
Illustration to Crusader Bible,
mid-1240s, Paris, France
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Crusades in church frescoes

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The importance of crusades for the Catholics was reflected in the frescoes showing the knights that have appeared in Catholic churches throughout Europe.

Clash between an Arab knight and a Christian knight during the Crusades, fresco, 12th century, Patriarchal Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, Aquileia, Italy
Clash between an Arab knight and a Christian knight during the Crusades, fresco,
12th century, Patriarchal Basilica of Santa Maria Assunta, Aquileia, Italy
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Knight of the Cross attacking Sarrazins at the battle of La Bocquée (1163), fresco, end of the 12th century, Templar chapel at Cressac, France
Knight of the Cross attacking Sarrazins at the battle of La Bocquée (1163), fresco,
end of the 12th century, Templar chapel at Cressac, France
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A knight, fresco, 14th century, St. Stephen's Church, Zanigrad, Slovenia
A knight, fresco,
14th century, St. Stephen's Church, Zanigrad, Slovenia
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Iberian Horsemen in Al-Andalus Period (cr. 711 – 1492)

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Al-Andalus was a medieval Muslim territory and cultural domain that in its early period included most of Iberia. At its greatest geographical extent, it occupied the northwest of the Iberian peninsula and a part of present-day southern France, Septimania, and for nearly a century extended its control from Fraxinet over the Alpine passes which connect Italy with the remainder of Western Europe. The name more generally describes the parts of the peninsula governed by Muslims (given the generic name of Moors) at various times between the Umayyad conquest of Hispania in 711 and the fall of the Nasrid kingdom of Granada to the expanding Christian kingdoms in 1492, though the boundaries changed constantly as the Christian Reconquista progressed.

Mozarabs

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Four Horsemen Of Apocalypse, illustration of 'Beato of Valcavado', 970, Oveco, Palencia, Al-Andalus (now Spain)
Four Horsemen Of Apocalypse, illustration of 'Beato of Valcavado',
970, Oveco, Palencia, Al-Andalus (now Spain)
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Four Horsemen Of Apocalypse (Sixth trumpet scene), illustration of 'Beato of Valcavado', 1047, Beato of Facundus, León, Al-Andalus (now Spain)
Four Horsemen Of Apocalypse (Sixth trumpet scene), illustration of 'Beato of Valcavado',
1047, Beato of Facundus, León, Al-Andalus (now Spain)
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The Mozarabs are the Iberian Christians who lived under Moorish rule in Al-Andalus. Although their descendants remained unconverted to Islam, they were mostly fluent in Arabic and adopted elements of Arabic culture. The local Romance vernaculars, heavily permeated by Arabic, spoken by Christians and Muslim alike has also come to be known as Mozarabic language. Mozarabs were mostly Roman Catholics of the Mozarabic Rite.

Mozarabic horsemen reflect the dual cultural heritage of their creators. We can see it in the way the four horsemen of the apocalypse look in Valcavado Beatus. We can also see it in the setting of the hunting horsemen depicted in San Baudelio de Berlanga. This church is an important example of Mozarabic architecture for its peculiarities. It was built in the 11th century, in what was then the frontier between Islamic and Christian lands. The hare hunting scene – featuring a horseman on a slightly rearing horse – has a symbolic Christian meaning: in Christian iconography, the hare is a symbol of the fragility of the soul and strong sexual desire or lust, which must be harassed and overcome. So is the elephant – it is the symbol of humility associated with the figure of Christ, who became the smallest and most obedient of humans to prevent his own death. The elephant of San Baudelio carries on its back a castle, allegory of diseases and miseries that have to be borne in the course of earthly life and the weight of the sins of existence. However, we can see Arabic motifs in the depiction of the elephant, which reminds us of a dual heritage of Mozarabic culture.

Hunt of the Hare, fresco painting on mural transferred to canvas, cr. 1125, Hermitage of San Baudelio, Casillas de Berlanga, Soria, Spain
Hunt of the Hare, fresco painting on mural transferred to canvas,
cr. 1125, Hermitage of San Baudelio, Casillas de Berlanga, Soria, Spain
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Elephant and Castle, fresco painting on mural transferred to canvas, cr. 1125, Hermitage of San Baudelio, Casillas de Berlanga, Soria, Spain
Elephant and Castle, fresco painting on mural transferred to canvas,
cr. 1125, Hermitage of San Baudelio, Casillas de Berlanga, Soria, Spain
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Hermitage of San Baudelio, 11th century, Casillas de Berlanga, Soria, Spain
Hermitage of San Baudelio,
11th century, Casillas de Berlanga, Soria, Spain
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We must commend the Moorish rulers of Al-Andalus for their religious tolerance, which allowed people of different religions to co-exist in peace and allowed these objects – including the first European horsemen on rearing horses – to come into existence.

Reconquista

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The Reconquista (Portuguese and Spanish for “reconquest”) is the name the period in the history when Al-Andalus existed. This name reflects Christians’ persistent attempts to reconquer the Iberian Peninsula.

There were many battles during Reconquista; among them there is a mythical battle of Clavijo that gave rise to the legend of Saint James Matamoros (Santiago Matamoros) – we will see more of him later.

Battle of Marrakesh, from Cantigas de Santa Maria by Alfonso X of Castile El Sabio (?), 1221–84, Castile, Spain
Battle of Marrakesh, from Cantigas de Santa Maria by Alfonso X of Castile El Sabio (?),
1221–84, Castile, Spain
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The Battle of Clavijo (mythical, 844), autumn 1471 - spring 1473, Martin Shongauer, Alsace, Germany
The Battle of Clavijo (mythical, 844),
autumn 1471 - spring 1473, Martin Shongauer, Alsace, Germany
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The Battle of Higueruela (1431) in the Gallery of Battles, cr. 1582, Fabrizio Castello, Orazio Cambiaso and Lazzaro Tavarone, Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Madrid, Spain
The Battle of Higueruela (1431) in the Gallery of Battles,
cr. 1582, Fabrizio Castello, Orazio Cambiaso and Lazzaro Tavarone, Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Madrid, Spain
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The Battle of Higueruela (1431) in the Gallery of Battles, cr. 1582, Fabrizio Castello, Orazio Cambiaso and Lazzaro Tavarone, Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Madrid, Spain
The Battle of Higueruela (1431) in the Gallery of Battles,
cr. 1582, Fabrizio Castello, Orazio Cambiaso and Lazzaro Tavarone, Royal Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Madrid, Spain
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Battle of Salado, in 'Pictures of the History of Portugal', 1917, Roque Gameiro, Portugal
Battle of Salado, in 'Pictures of the History of Portugal',
1917, Roque Gameiro, Portugal
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Saint Ladislaus In Central Europe in the 13th – 19th centuries

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Ladislaus I of Hungary (cr. 1040 – 1095) was a king of Hungary since 1077 and a king of Croatia since 1091. He was known for his piety. His military victories stopped invasions of nomadic Turkic peoples and thus helped with the consolidation of the Christian monarchy. Ladislaus “seemed expressly designed to personify the knight-king ideal” of his age. It was fully recognized when in 1192 he was canonized by Pope Celestine III.

In addition to many state-level achievements of this king, there is also a romantic Saint Ladislaus legend. It is often shown on church frescoes in Central Europe. The story goes as follows: “While fighting against nomadic peoples in steppes, he caught sight of a pagan warrior holding a Hungarian girl in his saddle. Saint Ladislaus begins to pursue him. In the last metres, before Saint Ladislaus could reach the pagan to stab him, he could not catch up to him. So Saint Ladislaus shouted to the girl: “Catch hold of the pagan at his belt and jump to the ground!” The girl does so, and the two warriors, the king and the pagan, begin wrestling. Saint Ladislaus can not subdue him, therefore the girl helps the king. She cuts the pagan’s Achilles tendon. Saint Ladislaus beheads the pagan with the help of the girl, then he is resting in her arms.”

Ladislaus I of Hungary legend, fresco, end of the 13th century, church in Rimavská Baňa, Slovakia
Ladislaus I of Hungary legend, fresco,
end of the 13th century, church in Rimavská Baňa, Slovakia
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Scene from the St. Ladislaus legend, fresco, first decades of the 14th century, monastery church of Türje, Hungary
Scene from the St. Ladislaus legend, fresco,
first decades of the 14th century, monastery church of Türje, Hungary
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Saint Ladislaus legend, fresco, 14th century, Church of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Veľká Lomnica, Slovakia
Saint Ladislaus legend, fresco,
14th century, Church of Saint Catherine of Alexandria, Veľká Lomnica, Slovakia
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Ladislaus I of Hungary legend, fresco, 1419, Paul of Ung, fortified church of Dârjiu, Romania
Ladislaus I of Hungary legend, fresco,
1419, Paul of Ung, fortified church of Dârjiu, Romania
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Ladislaus I of Hungary legend, fresco, ?, Károly Lotz (1833-1904), interior of the Matthias Church, Budapest, Hungary
Ladislaus I of Hungary legend, fresco,
?, Károly Lotz (1833-1904), interior of the Matthias Church, Budapest, Hungary
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Our next horsemen is also a saint who has killed an evil creature and saved a young girl, and he is much more well known…

Saint George in Europe in the 11th – early 16th centuries

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Western Europe has been introduced to the cult of Saint George thanks to Norman crusaders, as explained in the blog In Search Of Saint George.

One of the first depictions of Saint George in Western Europe, that also happened to be dated and produced by an artist we know of, Barisano da Trani. He is best known for his bronze relief door panels on the doors of Trani Cathedral (1185), Monreale Cathedral in Monreale (1190), and for the churches in Astrano and in Ravello (1179) on the Amalfi Coast. They all feature almost identical depictions of Saint George on a rearing horse.

St. George killing the dragon, detail of the main doors, 1179, Cathedral of San Pantaleone, Ravello
St. George killing the dragon, detail of the main doors,
1179, Cathedral of San Pantaleone, Ravello
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St. George killing the dragon, detail of the main doors, 1185, Trani Cathedral, Puglia
St. George killing the dragon, detail of the main doors,
1185, Trani Cathedral, Puglia
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St. George killing the dragon, detail of the bronze North door, cr. 1190, Monreale Cathedral, Sicily
St. George killing the dragon, detail of the bronze North door,
cr. 1190, Monreale Cathedral, Sicily
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More depictions of Saint George have followed.

Circular bronze-gilt seal-matrix showing St George and the dragon, late 13th century, Italy
Circular bronze-gilt seal-matrix showing St George and the dragon,
late 13th century, Italy
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Bowl with a Horseman Spearing a Serpent, late 1300s or early 1400s, Málaga, Spain
Bowl with a Horseman Spearing a Serpent,
late 1300s or early 1400s, Málaga, Spain
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Retable of St George (detail), 1400-25, Valencia, Spain
Retable of St George (detail),
1400-25, Valencia, Spain
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Saint George and the Dragon, cr. 1416, Donatello, Florence, Italy
Saint George and the Dragon,
cr. 1416, Donatello, Florence, Italy
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St. George and the Dragon, cr. 1430-35, Paolo Uccello, Florence, Italy
St. George and the Dragon,
cr. 1430-35, Paolo Uccello, Florence, Italy
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Altarpiece of St. George, 1430-31, Berenguer Mateu, Valencia, Spain
Altarpiece of St. George,
1430-31, Berenguer Mateu, Valencia, Spain
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Saint George and the Dragon, circa 1432-5, Rogier van der Weyden, Netherlandish (present-day Belgium and France)
Saint George and the Dragon,
circa 1432-5, Rogier van der Weyden, Netherlandish (present-day Belgium and France)
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Saint George Killing the Dragon, 1434-5, Bernat Martorell, Barcelona, modern-day Spain
Saint George Killing the Dragon,
1434-5, Bernat Martorell, Barcelona, modern-day Spain
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Saint George and The Dragon, Sano di Pietro, 1444, Siena, Italy
Saint George and The Dragon,
Sano di Pietro, 1444, Siena, Italy
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Saint George and the Dragon, accompanying a prayer to Saint George, cr. 1450–55, Ghent (?), Belgium
Saint George and the Dragon, accompanying a prayer to Saint George,
cr. 1450–55, Ghent (?), Belgium
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Saint George and the dragon, cr. 1470, southern Germany
Saint George and the dragon,
cr. 1470, southern Germany
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Saint George And the Dragon, 1470, Carlo Crivelli, Venice, Italy
Saint George And the Dragon,
1470, Carlo Crivelli, Venice, Italy
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Saint George and the Dragon, 1470, Paolo Uccello, Florence, Italy
Saint George and the Dragon,
1470, Paolo Uccello, Florence, Italy
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Pesaro Altarpiece (predella), 1471-4, Giovanni Bellini, Venice
Pesaro Altarpiece (predella),
1471-4, Giovanni Bellini, Venice
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Saint George and The Dragon, 1474, Vincent of Kastav, Beram, Croatia
Saint George and The Dragon,
1474, Vincent of Kastav, Beram, Croatia
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Saint George and The Princess, 1475, Antonio Cicognara, Ferrara (?), Italy
Saint George and The Princess,
1475, Antonio Cicognara, Ferrara (?), Italy
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Saint George And the Dragon, 1490, Carlo Crivelli, Venice, Italy
Saint George And the Dragon,
1490, Carlo Crivelli, Venice, Italy
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Saint George and the Dragon,c. 1490-1495, Tilman Riemenschneider
Saint George and the Dragon,
c. 1490-1495, Tilman Riemenschneider
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The Members of the Guild of the Grand Crossbow, with their patron Saint George and two saints, Saint Rombout and Saint Libertus, 1495-8, Mechelen, Belgium
The Members of the Guild of the Grand Crossbow, with their patron Saint George and two saints, Saint Rombout and Saint Libertus,
1495-8, Mechelen, Belgium
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Miniature of George fighting the dragon, with a full border with George passing the king's daughter, cr. 1500, a Book of Hours, Netherlands
Miniature of George fighting the dragon, with a full border with George passing the king's daughter,
cr. 1500, a Book of Hours, Netherlands
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Saint George And the Dragon, 1495-1505, Workshop of Luca Signorelli, Tuscany, Italy
Saint George And the Dragon,
1495-1505, Workshop of Luca Signorelli, Tuscany, Italy
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Saint George and the Dragon, 1502, Vittore Carpaccio, Venice, Italy
Saint George and the Dragon,
1502, Vittore Carpaccio, Venice, Italy
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Saint George and the Dragon, 1516, Vittore Carpaccio, Venice, Italy
Saint George and the Dragon,
1516, Vittore Carpaccio, Venice, Italy
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St. George fighting with the Dragon, cr. 1505, Raphael, Italy
St. George fighting with the Dragon,
cr. 1505, Raphael, Italy
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Saint George and the Dragon,circa 1506, Raphael
Saint George and the Dragon,
circa 1506, Raphael
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Relief showing Saint George fighting the dragon, 1509-10, Michel Colombe, Tours, France
Relief showing Saint George fighting the dragon,
1509-10, Michel Colombe, Tours, France
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Beyond Saint George, The 15th Century

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Italy

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The the last antique and first renaissance equestrian monuments of horsemen on non-rearing horses

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Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius, cr. 175 AD, Rome
Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius,
cr. 175 AD, Rome
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A souvenir print showing destructed Regisole, 3rd-6th centuries (?), drawing made in 1817 by V. Brunelli, Ravenna/Padua, Italy
A souvenir print showing destructed Regisole,
3rd-6th centuries (?), drawing made in 1817 by V. Brunelli, Ravenna/Padua, Italy
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Before being introduced to the first project of a large-scale bronze statue of a horsemen on a rearing horse, it is worth looking at the large-scale bronze equestrian monuments that were known at the time.

According to Armelle Fémelat, the last European public equestrian bronze monument before the Middle Ages was created in the 5th century AD. It was Regisole (“Sun King”), the equestrian statue originally located in Ravenna, Italy, showing Theodoric the Great, or, possibly, Roman emperor Septimius Severus (145 – 211). It remained on public display along with the equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius and a few more monuments.

The first Renaissance equestrian statue is actually a fresco of a statue. It is a Funerary Monument to Sir John Hawkwood created by Paolo Uccello in 1436 in for Florence Cathedral. Its companion fresco, Equestrian Monument of Niccolò da Tolentino, was created 20 years later, in 1456, by Andrea del Castagno.

Three bronze statues have followed.

The first one was the statue to Niccolò III d'Este, Marquis of Ferrara, commissioned by his illegitimate son Leonello d'Este, who succeeded Niccolò III d’Este despite the presence of legitimate children. It will become common among the rulers to commission statues of the predecessors, mostly fathers, to reinforce the claim to the throne. We don’t know exactly when and by whom the statue was created, but presumably, it was in the early 1440s by Leon Battista Alberti. Unfortunately, it was destroyed in 1796.

The second one was majestic equestrian statue of Gattamelata, created by Donatello, dating from 1453, located in Padua, which was part of the Republic of Venice at that time. The third one was the equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni, created by Andrea del Verrocchio, dating from 1480–88, located in Venice. Verrocchio was the first to solve the problem in having the horse supported by three legs. They wereboth commissioned by the Republic of Venice.

It is notable that all five men were condottieri, Italian captains contracted to command mercenary companies during the middle ages and multinational armies during the early modern period.

Painted Equestrian statue of Sir John Hawkwood (fresco), 1436, Paolo Uccello, Florence Cathedral, Italy
Painted Equestrian statue of Sir John Hawkwood (fresco),
1436, Paolo Uccello, Florence Cathedral, Italy
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Painted Equestrian statue of Niccolò da Tolentino (fresco), 1456, Andrea del Castagno, Florence Cathedral, Italy
Painted Equestrian statue of Niccolò da Tolentino (fresco),
1456, Andrea del Castagno, Florence Cathedral, Italy
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The reproduction of the monument to Niccolò III d'Este, original created in 1451 (?) and destructed by 1796, Leon Battista Alberti or Niccolò Baroncelli and Antonio di Cristoforo (?), Ferrara, Italy
The reproduction of the monument to Niccolò III d'Este,
original created in 1451 (?) and destructed by 1796, Leon Battista Alberti or Niccolò Baroncelli and Antonio di Cristoforo (?), Ferrara, Italy
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Equestrian statue of Gattamelata, 1453, Donatello, Padua, Republic of Venice (modern Italy)
Equestrian statue of Gattamelata,
1453, Donatello, Padua, Republic of Venice (modern Italy)
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Equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleon, 1480–88, Andrea del Verrocchio, Venice, Italy
Equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleon,
1480–88, Andrea del Verrocchio, Venice, Italy
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Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519): drawings, paintings and sculptures

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Secular paintings showing horseman on rearing horses until Leonardo da Vinci were very rare. It was Leonardo who has put the subject to a rearing horse in a prominent position. Indeed, according to Fitzwilliam museum research, Leonardo seems to have had a personal fascination with the horse and he is known to have written a treatise on the subject, now sadly lost.

The horsemen on the rearing horses we see on the right of a palm tree that is in the centre of the composition of 'Adoration of the Magi' painted by Leonardo in 1480-2 probably would have been the first secular depiction of a horseman on a rearing horse done using newly developed oil paints if the painting were completed.

Studies of the horses and horsemen, 781DR recto,cr. 1480, Leonardo da Vinci
Studies of the horses and horsemen, 781DR recto,
cr. 1480, Leonardo da Vinci
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A rider on a rearing horse,1481-2, Leonardo da Vinci
A rider on a rearing horse,
1481-2, Leonardo da Vinci
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The Adoration of the Magi,1480-2, Leonardo da Vinci
The Adoration of the Magi,
1480-2, Leonardo da Vinci
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Unfortunately, this painting was left unfinished. Leonardo wrote to the Duke of Milan Ludovico Sforza, offering the Duke his services, and was given the employment. Among other projects mentioned in the letter, Leonardo has described his idea of a gigantic bronze equestrian monument to commemorate the glory of the Duke’s father Francesco Sforza.

It appears that Ludovico Sforza liked the idea and asked several artists to submit their designs. On Antonio Pollaiuolo’s drawing, the horse is also rearing, but the horseman holds a sword. On Leonardo’s drawing, which won the competition but had to be redesigned because it proved impossible to cast, Ludovico’s father holds a baton in his right hand (which is outstretched towards the back) and the reins in his left hand.

Study for the Equestrian Monument to Francesco Sforza,early to mid-1480s, Antonio Pollaiuolo
Study for the Equestrian Monument to Francesco Sforza,
early to mid-1480s, Antonio Pollaiuolo
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Study for an equestrian monument,c.1485-90, Leonardo da Vinci
Study for an equestrian monument,
c.1485-90, Leonardo da Vinci
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Four studies for the uncompleted equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza,1490-1510, after Leonardo da Vinci
Four studies for the uncompleted equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza,
1490-1510, after Leonardo da Vinci
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Another Leonardo’s design was chosen instead, and Leonardo delivered a clay model. Shortly after, in 1499, Milan was invaded by French troops led by Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, Leonardo had to flee Milan; French troops used the clay model as a target during their shooting exercises.

Leonardo has eventually found himself in Florence. There, he has been commissioned a wall painting. The subject was to be the Battle of Anghiari (1440), where Florentines had vanquished the Milanese army. Leonardo's depiction of the battle of Anghiari, despite its expressiveness and ingenuity, has been abandoned for technical reasons, and, subsequently, was painted over by Giorgio Vasari. We only know Leonardo’s painting through the preparatory drawings and copies, most famous of these being Peter Paul Rubens‘s version. Leonardo’s representation of the horsemen and rearing horses is astonishingly dynamic. Vasari’s depiction of the Defeat of the Pisans at the Tower of San Vincenzo, painted in the same Hall of 500 in Palazzo Vecchio, is clearly inspired by Leonardo’s painting, but, unfortunately, the quality is not comparable.

Studies of horsemen for the Battle of Anghiari, cr. 1503, Leonardo da Vinci, Florence
Studies of horsemen for the Battle of Anghiari,
cr. 1503, Leonardo da Vinci, Florence
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Copy of the lost Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo da Vinci, 1504-5, circa 1603, Peter Paul Rubens
Copy of the lost Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo da Vinci, 1504-5,
circa 1603, Peter Paul Rubens
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A sketch for the Trivulzio monument, c. 1508-10, Leonardo da Vinci
A sketch for the Trivulzio monument,
c. 1508-10, Leonardo da Vinci
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Sketches for the Trivulzio monument, c.1508-10, Leonardo da Vinci
Sketches for the Trivulzio monument,
c.1508-10, Leonardo da Vinci
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Rearing Horse and Mounted Warrior statuette, 1516-9, Leonardo da Vinci, France
Rearing Horse and Mounted Warrior statuette,
1516-9, Leonardo da Vinci, France
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Leonardo returned to Milan in 1506 to work for the very French rulers who had overtaken the city seven years earlier and forced him to flee. Ironically, Gian Giacomo Trivulzio followed in his foe’s footsteps and commissioned da Vinci to sculpt a grand equestrian statue, one that could be mounted on his tomb. Leonardo had designed it, but the statue was never begun.

Judging by the fact that Leonardo’s drawing of Sforza’s monument was in the possession of Francesco Melzi after the death of Leonardo, we can assume that they took it to France when Leonardo was invited by king Francis I of France to live there as “Premier Painter and Engineer and Architect to the King”. Finally, in France, in circa 1516-1519 Leonardo has completed a three-dimensional depiction of a horseman on a rearing horse, presumably depicting king Francis I of France. This 42 centimetres tall statue is a far cry from 8-metre statue conceived by Leonardo 20 years earlier, but, at last, resulted in a completed object of art.

Studies of military tank-like machines including one led by a horseman on a rearing horse pulling a contraption with revolving scythes, cr. 1485, Leonardo da Vinci, Florence
Studies of military tank-like machines including one led by a horseman on a rearing horse pulling a contraption with revolving scythes,
cr. 1485, Leonardo da Vinci, Florence
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Leonardo was using the image of a horseman on a rearing horse not only for his art projects but also for his engineering studies. His image of a war machine with revolving scythes, designed to cut infantry’s legs, also features a horseman on a rearing horse.

Jacopo Bellini (cr.1395 – cr.1470) : many drawings and one project of a statue

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A sculpture of a classical horseman holding a severed head on a base with a relief of a scene of judgement, c. 1440-1470, Jacopo Bellini
A sculpture of a classical horseman holding a severed head on a base with a relief of a scene of judgement,
c. 1440-1470, Jacopo Bellini
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COMPARANDUM: The reproduction of the monument to Niccolò III d'Este, original created in 1451 (?) and destructed by 1796, Leon Battista Alberti or Niccolò Baroncelli and Antonio di Cristoforo (?), Ferrara, Italy
COMPARANDUM: The reproduction of the monument to Niccolò III d'Este,
original created in 1451 (?) and destructed by 1796, Leon Battista Alberti or Niccolò Baroncelli and Antonio di Cristoforo (?), Ferrara, Italy
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However, Leonardo was not the first Renaissance artist fascinated by the rearing horses. Venitian artist Jacopo Bellini was clearly very fond of the subject. Few of Bellini’s paintings still exist, but his surviving sketch-books (one in the British Museum and one in the Louvre) show his fine technique and imaginative vision. Quite a few of his drawings feature rearing horses, sometimes very predictably (when he depicts St. George’s fight with the dragon), sometimes quite unexpectedly (when he depicts David after he has vanquished Goliath). Probably, it was Jacopo Bellini who has suggested the first (since antiquity) equestrian monument of a ruler on a rearing horse – we find the design in his sketch-book. This design is believed to be submitted for a competition for the monument of Niccolò III d'Este, which was commissioned by his son Leonello d'Este, Marquis of Ferrara. Unfortunately, his design was rejected. It will take almost 200 years for a large scale monument of a horseman on a rearing horse to appear.

Saint Georges fighting the dragon, Jacopo Bellini, Louvre 14r
Saint Georges fighting the dragon,
Jacopo Bellini, Louvre 14r
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The Beheading of St. John the Baptist, Jacopo Bellini, Louvre 16r
The Beheading of St. John the Baptist,
Jacopo Bellini, Louvre 16r
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The Triumph of Bacchus, Jacopo Bellini, Louvre 36r
The Triumph of Bacchus,
Jacopo Bellini, Louvre 36r
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Cupid carries a young satyr on the magic horse Pegasus, Jacopo Bellini, Louvre 39r
Cupid carries a young satyr on the magic horse Pegasus,
Jacopo Bellini, Louvre 39r
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Nine characters; a rider and a horse jump over a tomb, Jacopo Bellini, Louvre 39v+40r
Nine characters; a rider and a horse jump over a tomb,
Jacopo Bellini, Louvre 39v+40r
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Horseman on a horse with a fancy harness, Jacopo Bellini, Louvre 47r
Horseman on a horse with a fancy harness,
Jacopo Bellini, Louvre 47r
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Fight between five horseman and the dragons, Jacopo Bellini, Louvre 75r
Fight between five horseman and the dragons,
Jacopo Bellini, Louvre 75r
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David mounted on horseback holding up the head of Goliath to a crowd gathered outside the walls of Jerusalem, British Museum 45r (digitally enhanced to make the details more visible)
David mounted on horseback holding up the head of Goliath to a crowd gathered outside the walls of Jerusalem, British Museum 45r (digitally enhanced to make the details more visible)
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Giovanni di Paolo (cr. 1403 – 1482): religious paintings and illustrations

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Giovanni di Paolo was an Italian painter, working primarily in Siena, becoming a prolific painter and illustrator of manuscripts. He was one of the most important painters of the 15th century Sienese School.

The artists of Sienese School were keen to differentiate their style from Florentine school. In the case of Giovanni di Paolo, it was about creating paintings with less naturalistic, more medieval, elongated figures, and the use of golden background which would be obsolete in Florentine paintings of the same period.

Antiphonary IV, Office of the Dead, cr. 1442, Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia, Siena, Italy
Antiphonary IV, Office of the Dead,
cr. 1442, Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia, Siena, Italy
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The Crucifixion with Mary, John, Mary Magdalene, St Longinus and the Converted Centurion, cr. 1447, Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia, Siena, Italy
The Crucifixion with Mary, John, Mary Magdalene, St Longinus and the Converted Centurion,
cr. 1447, Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia, Siena, Italy
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Calvary, cr. 1450, Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia, Siena, Italy
Calvary,
cr. 1450, Giovanni di Paolo di Grazia, Siena, Italy
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Spalliere And Cassoni With Horsemen

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A considerable number of paintings produced by Italian Renaissance artists have an unusual elongated format. These paintings were often the wall panels called spalliera (pl. spalliere) or the decorations of the large chests, one of the trophy furnishings of rich merchants and aristocrats, called cassone, pl. cassoni.

Most of the subjects of the depictions relate to Antique mythology, or battles, or both.

Spalliere With the scenes of the Battle of San Romano by Paolo Uccello (1397 – 1475)
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Paolo Uccello was an Italian painter, mathematician and one of the first Renaissance artists to discover the laws of perspective in art. He was very much popular and touched on all subjects that were popular in his time!

Uccello’s depictions of three episodes of the Battle of San Romano feature riders on rearing horses in the prominent positions oo the painting. The paintings were much admired in the 15th century; Lorenzo de' Medici so coveted them that he purchased one and had the remaining two forcibly removed to the Palazzo Medici. According to Rosamond E. Mack, these are spalliera paintings.

Cassoni By Paolo Uccello
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In addition to independent paintings, Paolo Uccello and his workshop have produced a number of cassoni.

The last painting in this gallery, The Hunt in the Forest, was also Uccello’s last major painting before he died in Florence in 1475. We don’t know if it was intended to be a cassoni panel, but its format certainly suggests such use.

Cassone with painted front panel depicting the battle of Greeks and Amazons before the walls of Troy, cr. 1460, Paolo Uccello, Florence, Italy
Cassone with painted front panel depicting the battle of Greeks and Amazons before the walls of Troy,
cr. 1460, Paolo Uccello, Florence, Italy
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Cassone with painted front panel depicting the battle of Greeks and Amazons before the walls of Troy (detail), cr. 1460, Paolo Uccello, Florence, Italy
Cassone with painted front panel depicting the battle of Greeks and Amazons before the walls of Troy (detail),
cr. 1460, Paolo Uccello, Florence, Italy
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Cassone panel depicting episodes from the Aeneid, cr. 1470, Paolo Uccello, Florence, Italy
Cassone panel depicting episodes from the Aeneid,
cr. 1470, Paolo Uccello, Florence, Italy
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The Hunt in the Forest,cr. 1470, Paolo Uccello, Florence, Italy
The Hunt in the Forest,
cr. 1470, Paolo Uccello, Florence, Italy
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furniture paintings By Sandro Botticelli (c. 1445 – 1510)
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Sandro Botticelli was an Italian painter of the Early Renaissance. He belonged to the Florentine School. Botticelli was one of the most esteemed artists in Italy during his lifetime. His posthumous reputation suffered until the late 19th century; since then, Botticelli’s work has been seen to represent the linear grace of Early Renaissance painting.

I have found three of Botticelli’s paintings that feature horsemen on rearing horses.

The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti I, 1482-3, Sandro Botticelli, Florence, Italy
The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti I,
1482-3, Sandro Botticelli, Florence, Italy
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The Story of Nastagio Degli Onesti: The Banquet in the Pine Forest, 1482-3, Sandro Botticelli, Florence, Italy
The Story of Nastagio Degli Onesti: The Banquet in the Pine Forest,
1482-3, Sandro Botticelli, Florence, Italy
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Two illustrate Nastagio degli Onesti, one of the stories of The Decameron. On the first one, we see the post-mortem punishment of a girl who had rejected true love: every week, her ghost has to be slain by the ghost of the man she had rejected, witnessed by Nastagio degli Onesti, the main character of the story. On the second one, Nastagio is showing this terrible weekly punishment to the girl who keeps rejecting his true love, as well as her family, during a banquet in the forest he had invited them for. The girl changes her mind and accepts to marry Nastagio!

Botticelli created four panels portraying the Nastagio tale, two or which feature the horsemen on rearing horse, for a cassone commissioned by Lorenzo de' Medici.

The Story of Virginia, cr. 1496-1504, Sandro Botticelli, Florence, Italy
The Story of Virginia,
cr. 1496-1504, Sandro Botticelli, Florence, Italy
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In contrast, the last one, The Story of Virginia, shows a story without a happy end. Virginia, a plebeian girl who lived in ancient Rome, was abducted by a powerful man who lusted after her. He claimed that Virginia was his slave. During the trial, her father killed her because it was the only way to make her free and save her honour, then fled (we see him on a white rearing horse in the middle of the painting).

According to National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, this is a furniture painting, probably made as a spalliera.

Cassone Panels By Biagio d’Antonio (1446 – 1516) And Jacopo da Sellaio (1441 – 1493)
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Two more early Renaissance artist who would paint horsemen on rearing horses on cassone panels are Biagio d'Antonio and Jacopo da Sellaio. They would work either independently or collaborate.

Scenes from the Story of the Argonauts, cr. 1465, Biagio di Antonio and Jacopo del Sellaio
Scenes from the Story of the Argonauts,
cr. 1465, Biagio di Antonio and Jacopo del Sellaio
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The Morelli-Nerli Wedding Chest,1472, Biagio di Antonio, Jacopo del Sellaio and Zanobi di Domenico
The Morelli-Nerli Wedding Chest,
1472, Biagio di Antonio, Jacopo del Sellaio and Zanobi di Domenico
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The Legend of Brutus and Portia,cr. 1485, Jacopo del Sellaio
The Legend of Brutus and Portia,
cr. 1485, Jacopo del Sellaio
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The Siege of Troy, the Death of Hector,1490-5, Biagio d'Antonio
The Siege of Troy, the Death of Hector,
1490-5, Biagio d'Antonio
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The Siege of Troy, the Wooden Horse,1490-5 (?), Biagio d'Antonio
The Siege of Troy, the Wooden Horse,
1490-5 (?), Biagio d'Antonio
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Cassone Panels By Other Artists (1450 – 1510)
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The subjects of paintings on all these panels are war-related. However, as above, the depiction of war is idealised, everyone is young and beautiful, and we see no suffering, injuries or deaths. The aim of these paintings is to provide a narrative, but not to look into human nature.



A cassone panel with Caesar's army triumphing in battle, cr. 1450-1500, Florence, Italy
A cassone panel with Caesar's army triumphing in battle,
cr. 1450-1500, Florence, Italy
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A cassone panel with the Battle of Pydna, cr. 1475, Andrea Verrocchio, Florence, Italy
A cassone panel with the Battle of Pydna,
cr. 1475, Andrea Verrocchio, Florence, Italy
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Cassone panel depicting the battle of Pharsalus, 1438-1465, Apollonio di Giovanni, Florence, Italy
Cassone panel depicting the battle of Pharsalus,
1438-1465, Apollonio di Giovanni, Florence, Italy
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Cassone panel depicting the taking of Pisa, cr. 1460-70, Florence, Italy
Cassone panel depicting the taking of Pisa,
cr. 1460-70, Florence, Italy
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Cassone panel depicting the battle of Anghiari, cr. 1460-70, Florence, Italy
Cassone panel depicting the battle of Anghiari,
cr. 1460-70, Florence, Italy
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Cassone with painted front panel depicting the Conquest of Trebizond, cr. 1461-5, workshop of Apollonio di Giovanni di Tomaso, Florence, Italy
Cassone with painted front panel depicting the Conquest of Trebizond,
cr. 1461-5, workshop of Apollonio di Giovanni di Tomaso, Florence, Italy
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Cassone with painted front panel depicting the Conquest of Trebizond (detail), cr. 1461-5, workshop of Apollonio di Giovanni di Tomaso, Florence, Italy
Cassone with painted front panel depicting the Conquest of Trebizond (detail),
cr. 1461-5, workshop of Apollonio di Giovanni di Tomaso, Florence, Italy
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Cassone panel depicting the taking of Athens, cr. 1510, Italy
Cassone panel depicting the taking of Athens,
cr. 1510, Italy
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Frescoes

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As we have seen just above, many of the horsemen paintings in Italy in the 15th century were designed as parts of furniture, rather than independent art objects.

The other support for the paintings, also for the purposes of decorating the palazzi, were wall paintings, frescoes.

The Battle of Nineveh (between Khosrau II and Heraclius, in 627), cr. 1452-66, Piero della Francesca, Arezzo, Italy
The Battle of Nineveh (between Khosrau II and Heraclius, in 627),
cr. 1452-66, Piero della Francesca, Arezzo, Italy
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The Battle of Milvian Bridge (between the Roman Emperors Constantine I and Maxentius, in 312), cr. 1452-66, Piero della Francesca, Arezzo, Italy
The Battle of Milvian Bridge (between the Roman Emperors Constantine I and Maxentius, in 312),
cr. 1452-66, Piero della Francesca, Arezzo, Italy
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Expulsion of Heliodorus from the temple, 1511, fresco, Raphael, Vatican, Italy
Expulsion of Heliodorus from the temple,
1511, fresco, Raphael, Vatican, Italy
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Expulsion of Heliodorus from the temple (detail), 1511, fresco, Raphael, Vatican, Italy
Expulsion of Heliodorus from the temple (detail),
1511, fresco, Raphael, Vatican, Italy
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The Meeting of Leo the Great and Attila, 1514, fresco, Raphael, Vatican, Italy
The Meeting of Leo the Great and Attila,
1514, fresco, Raphael, Vatican, Italy
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The Battle of the Milvian Bridge, 1520-4, Giulio Romano, designed by Raphael, Vatican, Italy
The Battle of the Milvian Bridge,
1520-4, Giulio Romano, designed by Raphael, Vatican, Italy
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Raphael (1483 – 1520)

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Raffaello Sanzio da Urbino, or, simply, Raphael, was an Italian artist. Together with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, he forms the traditional trinity of great masters of that period.

The Procession to Calvary, cr. 1504-5, Raphael, Italy
The Procession to Calvary,
cr. 1504-5, Raphael, Italy
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Sketch the four horsemen and captive warrior to paint the library Piccolomini in Siena, 1503, Raphael Sanzio, Italy
Sketch the four horsemen and captive warrior to paint the library Piccolomini in Siena,
1503, Raphael Sanzio, Italy
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St. George fighting with the Dragon, cr. 1505, Raphael, Italy
St. George fighting with the Dragon,
cr. 1505, Raphael, Italy
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Saint George and the Dragon,circa 1506, Raphael
Saint George and the Dragon,
circa 1506, Raphael
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Expulsion of Heliodorus from the temple, 1511, fresco, Raphael, Vatican, Italy
Expulsion of Heliodorus from the temple,
1511, fresco, Raphael, Vatican, Italy
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Expulsion of Heliodorus from the temple (detail), 1511, fresco, Raphael, Vatican, Italy
Expulsion of Heliodorus from the temple (detail),
1511, fresco, Raphael, Vatican, Italy
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The Meeting of Leo the Great and Attila, 1514, fresco, Raphael, Vatican, Italy
The Meeting of Leo the Great and Attila,
1514, fresco, Raphael, Vatican, Italy
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Some historians view the date of his death as the end of Renaissance and beginning of a new art style, Mannerism, also known as Late Renaissance. Raphael is viewed as zenith of High Renaissance, and it was his head assistant, Giulio Romano, along with Parmigianino, who launched Mannerism! Thus, the fresco below can be viewed as a turning point of art: it was designed by the youngest of most prominent High Renaissance artists, Raphael, and completed by a pioneer of Mannerism, Giulio Romano.

The Battle of the Milvian Bridge, 1520-4, Giulio Romano, designed by Raphael, Vatican, Italy
The Battle of the Milvian Bridge,
1520-4, Giulio Romano, designed by Raphael, Vatican, Italy
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Northern Renaissance

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Jan van Eyck (before 1390 – 1441)

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COMPARANDUM: Saint George and the Dragon, circa 1432-5, Rogier van der Weyden, Netherlandish (present-day Belgium and France)
COMPARANDUM: Saint George and the Dragon,
circa 1432-5, Rogier van der Weyden, Netherlandish (present-day Belgium and France)
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Jan van Eyck, a Flemish painter, was one of the most significant representatives of Early Northern Renaissance art. He was active in Bruges (now Belgium), and worked in the Hague for John III the Pitiless, ruler of Holland and Hainault, and in Lille (now France), as court painter to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy.

Van Eyck initially worked within the International Gothic style, but later deviated from it by putting an emphasis on naturalism and realism.

As for the horsemen on rearing horses, we can find two tiny ones on two religious paintings of Jan van Eyck. Both these paintings feature static or slowly moving figures, so these tiny horsemen are used as “spice”, to give a hint of dynamics to the composition.

Rogier van der Weyden (1399 or 1400 – 1464), another Flemish painter, also belonged to the Early Northern Renaissance school and worked for the same patrons. By the latter half of the 15th century, he had eclipsed Jan van Eyck in popularity. However his fame lasted only until the 17th century, and largely due to changing taste, Rogier van der Weyden was almost totally forgotten by the mid-18th century.

The Crucifixion and The Last Judgment, diptych, cr. 1430, Jan van Eyck, Netherlandish
The Crucifixion and The Last Judgment, diptych,
cr. 1430, Jan van Eyck, Netherlandish
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The Crucifixion and The Last Judgment, diptych (detail), cr. 1430, Jan van Eyck, Netherlandish
The Crucifixion and The Last Judgment, diptych (detail),
cr. 1430, Jan van Eyck, Netherlandish
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The Way to Calvary, cr. 1505–15, Jan van Eyck (after), Netherlandish
The Way to Calvary,
cr. 1505–15, Jan van Eyck (after), Netherlandish
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The Way to Calvary (detail), cr. 1505–15, Jan van Eyck (after), Netherlandish
The Way to Calvary (detail),
cr. 1505–15, Jan van Eyck (after), Netherlandish
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Hieronymus Bosch (1450 – 1516) comp=1|Rogier_van_der_Weyden_-_Saint_George_and_the_Dragon.jpg[/yu_images_DB]

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Hieronymus Bosch is a very enigmatic Dutch artist. While he lived in the era of early Renaissance, his style is very close to medieval paintings, while the complexity of the composition, with multiple layers of meaning, foresees Mannerism.

Bosch is often likened (or contrasted to) Leonardo da Vinci. As fate has it, both have depicted the same biblical subject, Adoration of the Magi. Leonardo’s painting remained unfinished, but one can see his idea very clearly. And both have featured some small-scale horsemen on rearing horses on the background. Other than this similarity, the paintings could not be more different.

Let’s take a closer look at the background horsemen. According to Museum of Prado research team, on the basis of their oriental headdresses Bosch’s horsemen have been identified as Herod’s soldiers seeking out Jesus to kill him. The role of the horsemen on Leonardo’s painting is unclear. To add to the enigma, a recent study has shown that the two horsemen in the upper right corner are just one small part of what was originally a full-blown battle scene. The violence and horror are almost palpable: men flinch as they parry blows with their raised arms; they writhe under rearing horses. Visible through the struggle are more battling men and horses at a distance.

The Adoration of the Magi,1480-2, Leonardo da Vinci
The Adoration of the Magi,
1480-2, Leonardo da Vinci
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The Adoration of the Magi (detail), 1480-2, Leonardo da Vinci
The Adoration of the Magi (detail),
1480-2, Leonardo da Vinci
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The Adoration of the Magi, cr. 1495, Hieronymus Bosch, Netherlands
The Adoration of the Magi,
cr. 1495, Hieronymus Bosch, Netherlands
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The Adoration of the Magi (detail), cr. 1495, Hieronymus Bosch, Netherlands
The Adoration of the Magi (detail),
cr. 1495, Hieronymus Bosch, Netherlands
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Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472 – 1553) and Lucas Cranach the Younger (1515 – 1586)

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While much of Lucas Cranach the Elder‘s career overlapped with Mannerism, the optimism and gloss of his works make this German painter and printmaker a true Renaissance artist, even if some of his works don’t escape this influence of the times he lived in.

Saint George and the dragon, 1507-8, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Germany
Saint George and the dragon,
1507-8, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Germany
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Saint George Fighting the Dragon, cr. 1510-20, workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, Germany
Saint George Fighting the Dragon,
cr. 1510-20, workshop of Lucas Cranach the Elder, Germany
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Saint George and the dragon, cr. 1511-13, circle of Lucas Cranach the Elder, Germany
Saint George and the dragon,
cr. 1511-13, circle of Lucas Cranach the Elder, Germany
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Saint George and the dragon, 1512, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Germany
Saint George and the dragon,
1512, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Germany
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The Crucifixion with the Converted Centurion, 1538, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Germany
The Crucifixion with the Converted Centurion,
1538, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Germany
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The Stag-Hunt, 1529, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Germany
The Stag-Hunt,
1529, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Germany
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Hunting near Hartenfels Castle, 1540, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Germany
Hunting near Hartenfels Castle,
1540, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Germany
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Lucas Cranach the Younger (1515 – 1586), the son of Lucas Cranach the Elder, followed in the father’s footsteps. His style was identical to his father’s style, and he was equally successful professionally and financially.

The Conversion of Saint Paul, cr. 1547-9, Lucas Cranach the Younger, Germany
The Conversion of Saint Paul,
cr. 1547-9, Lucas Cranach the Younger, Germany
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The Conversion of Saul, 1549, Lucas Cranach the Younger, Germany
The Conversion of Saul,
1549, Lucas Cranach the Younger, Germany
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Emperor Maximilian I (1459 – 1519), Mary of Burgundy (1457 – 1482) and artist who were depicting them

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Maria of Burgundy (a manuscript illustration), end of the 15th century, Bruges
Maria of Burgundy (a manuscript illustration),
end of the 15th century, Bruges
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COMPARANDUM: Emperor Maximilian I with Mary of Burgundy, their son and grandsons, after 1515, Bernhard Strigel, Austria
COMPARANDUM: Emperor Maximilian I with Mary of Burgundy, their son and grandsons,
after 1515, Bernhard Strigel, Austria
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Emperor Maximilian I on Horseback, 1508-18, Hans Burgkmair, Vienna, Holy Roman Empire
Emperor Maximilian I on Horseback,
1508-18, Hans Burgkmair, Vienna, Holy Roman Empire
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Project for an equestrian statue for Emperor Maximilian I, 1509-10, Hans Burgkmair, Vienna, Holy Roman Empire
Project for an equestrian statue for Emperor Maximilian I,
1509-10, Hans Burgkmair, Vienna, Holy Roman Empire
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There is an interesting connection between several pictures in this series. Mary of Burgundy, shown on the first one, was married to Maximilian I, Holy Roman Emperor, from 1477 until her death in 1482. That was his only happy marriage. Even after 1515, 18 years after her death, he was still depicted with her on the state portraits as if she were alive.

The emperor was also keen on being depicted on horseback, there were two such depictions made by Hans Burgkmair.

Much later, in 1512, Maximilian I has commissioned a set of woodcuts called the Triumphal Procession, which was a result of the collaboration of several artists, including Albrecht Altdorfer, Hans Burgkmair, Leonhard Beck and Albrecht Dürer.

Triumph of Emperor Maximilian I, detail: Imperial banner and Imperial sword, 1513-15, Albrecht Altdorfer, Bavaria, Germany
Triumph of Emperor Maximilian I, detail: Imperial banner and Imperial sword,
1513-15, Albrecht Altdorfer, Bavaria, Germany
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Triumph of Emperor Maximilian I (detail), 1526, Ulg Lis or Hans Burgkmair, Vienna, Holy Roman Empire
Triumph of Emperor Maximilian I (detail),
1526, Ulg Lis or Hans Burgkmair, Vienna, Holy Roman Empire
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The Prince at the Bird-Catching, 1514-6, Leonhard Beck
The Prince at the Bird-Catching,
1514-6, Leonhard Beck
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Saint George and the Dragon, cr. 1515, Leonhard Beck, Germany
Saint George and the Dragon,
cr. 1515, Leonhard Beck, Germany
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Mary of Burgundy, Maximilian I, Philip the Fair and Charles V, 1518, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Mary of Burgundy, Maximilian I, Philip the Fair and Charles V,
1518, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Maximilian I was very keen on being depicted by the leading artists; in some of the depictions he had commissioned, he is on a horseback, but his horse never rears. But just before the emperor’s death Dutch printmaker Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen has depicted him on a horseback, next to his beloved first wife.

Albrecht Dürer (1471 – 1528)

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Albrecht Dürer, one of the founding artist of Northern Renaissance, has created a significant number of engravings that depict horsemen on charging and rearing horsemen, thus embracing the new technology of printing. He chose to depict not only classical Renaissance subjects but also anonymous commoners, such as postmen, which was revolutionary for the end of the 15th century.

Man on horseback holding a scroll or stick in his right hand, 1490-4, Albrecht Dürer, Germany
Man on horseback holding a scroll or stick in his right hand,
1490-4, Albrecht Dürer, Germany
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Young couple on a horseback, 1496, Albrecht Dürer
Young couple on a horseback,
1496, Albrecht Dürer
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The Little Courier, cr. 1496, Albrecht Dürer, Germany
The Little Courier,
cr. 1496, Albrecht Dürer, Germany
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The Knight on the Horseback with Lansquenet, cr. 1496-7, Albrecht Dürer, Germany
The Knight on the Horseback with Lansquenet,
cr. 1496-7, Albrecht Dürer, Germany
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Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, cr. 1497-8, Albrecht Dürer, Germany
Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,
cr. 1497-8, Albrecht Dürer, Germany
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Saint George and the Dragon, cr. 1504, Albrecht Dürer, Germany
Saint George and the Dragon,
cr. 1504, Albrecht Dürer, Germany
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Abduction of Proserpine, 1516, Albrecht Dürer, Germany
Abduction of Proserpine,
1516, Albrecht Dürer, Germany
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A German stamp based on a Dürer's engraving, 1990, Germany
A German stamp based on a Dürer's engraving,
1990, Germany
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Tapestries by Bernard van Orley (between 1487 and 1491 – 1541)

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Otto, Count of Nassau and his Wife Adelheid van Vianen (a tapestry design), 1530–35, Bernard van Orley, Brussels, Flanders
Otto, Count of Nassau and his Wife Adelheid van Vianen (a tapestry design),
1530–35, Bernard van Orley, Brussels, Flanders
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'The Emperor Charles V at a hawking party', tapestry design, cr. 1535, Bernard Van Orley, Flemish/Netherlandish
'The Emperor Charles V at a hawking party', tapestry design,
cr. 1535, Bernard Van Orley, Flemish/Netherlandish
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Rider on a rearing horse, in a wooded area, 16th century, after Bernard van Orley, Brussels, Flanders
Rider on a rearing horse, in a wooded area,
16th century, after Bernard van Orley, Brussels, Flanders
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Bernard van Orley (between 1487 and 1491 – 6 January 1541) was a versatile Flemish Renaissance artist: he was painting, designing of tapestries and, at the end of his life, stained glass. He was mostly working for the court of Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor.
Although he never visited Italy, he was influenced by Italian Renaissance painting, especially by Raphael. Van Orley’s paintings were mostly religious scenes and portraits (sadly, not horsemen), but his tapestries were showing his contemporaries and recent past, in the form of portraits, hunting scenes…

A tapestry 'The month of March, aries: the departure for bird hunting' from the series 'The Hunting of Maximilian' called 'Beautiful hunts of Guise', cr. 1530, after Bernard van Orley, Brussels, Flanders
A tapestry 'The month of March, aries: the departure for bird hunting' from the series 'The Hunting of Maximilian' called 'Beautiful hunts of Guise',
cr. 1530, after Bernard van Orley, Brussels, Flanders
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A tapestry design 'Allegory of September: deer hunting, the boat' from the series 'The Hunting of Maximilian' called 'Beautiful hunts of Guise', cr. 1530, after Bernard van Orley, Brussels, Flanders
A tapestry design 'Allegory of September: deer hunting, the boat' from the series 'The Hunting of Maximilian' called 'Beautiful hunts of Guise',
cr. 1530, after Bernard van Orley, Brussels, Flanders
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A tapestry design 'The month of December, capricorn: attack of the wild boar' from the series 'The Hunting of Maximilian' called 'Beautiful hunts of Guise', cr. 1530, after Bernard van Orley, Brussels, Flanders
A tapestry design 'The month of December, capricorn: attack of the wild boar' from the series 'The Hunting of Maximilian' called 'Beautiful hunts of Guise',
cr. 1530, after Bernard van Orley, Brussels, Flanders
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A tapestry 'The month of December, capricorn: attack of the wild boar' from the series 'The Hunting of Maximilian' called 'Beautiful hunts of Guise', cr. 1530, after Bernard van Orley, Brussels, Flanders
A tapestry 'The month of December, capricorn: attack of the wild boar' from the series 'The Hunting of Maximilian' called 'Beautiful hunts of Guise',
cr. 1530, after Bernard van Orley, Brussels, Flanders
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… and battle scenes.

A tapestry design 'The cavalry attack and the assault of the arquebusiers' from the series 'The Battle of Pavia', 16th century, Bernard van Orley, Brussels, Flanders
A tapestry design 'The cavalry attack and the assault of the arquebusiers' from the series 'The Battle of Pavia',
16th century, Bernard van Orley, Brussels, Flanders
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The advance of the imperial army and attack on the French gendarmerie led by Francis I, the first of the seven tapestries representing the Battle of Pavia, 1528-31, Bernard van Orley, Brussels, Flanders
The advance of the imperial army and attack on the French gendarmerie led by Francis I, the first of the seven tapestries representing the Battle of Pavia,
1528-31, Bernard van Orley, Brussels, Flanders
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The escape of the French army and retreat of Duke D'Aleçon beyond Ticino, the sixth of the seven tapestries representing the Battle of Pavia, 1528-31, Bernard van Orley, Brussels, Flanders
The escape of the French army and retreat of Duke D'Aleçon beyond Ticino, the sixth of the seven tapestries representing the Battle of Pavia,
1528-31, Bernard van Orley, Brussels, Flanders
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Quantum Leap Into Modernity, The 16th Century – The First Half Of The 17th Century

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It was the worst and the best of times…

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The 16th century was the time of great discoveries, scientific progress, the time when knowledge has reached more people than ever before. But also the time of great uncertainty, the time of religious extremism, the time of the peak of the witch-hunting. It was the times of loss of human life on a truly shocking scale. It is estimated that the population of Americas was reduced by 65% to 90% in the course of the 16th century. Subsequent reforestation could have led to worsening of the Little Ice Age winter colds. In Europe, it is estimated some countries the population reduced by 10% to 25% from 1600 to 1650 as the result of wars and famine.

The 16th century was a period of vigorous economic expansion. This expansion, in turn, played a major role in the many other transformations—social, political, and cultural—of the early modern age. Most historians locate in the 16th century the beginning, or at least the maturing, of Western capitalism.

So, indeed, it was the worst and the best of times.

… As It Can Be Seen Through The Lens Of Horsemen On Rearing Horses

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We can see some of it through the array of horsemen on rearing horses that appeared at that time.

… As Seen By Comparing The Paintings By Raphael, Cranach And Bruegel

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Perhaps the quickest way to see the ambiguity is by juxtaposing the paintings of Lucas Cranach the Elder and Pieter Bruegel the Elder, and comparing them with a similar Raphael‘s painting. All three paintings have Biblical subjects and feature anonymous horsemen. But the atmosphere they create cannot be more different.

COMPARANDUM: The Procession to Calvary, cr. 1504-5, Raphael, Italy
COMPARANDUM: The Procession to Calvary,
cr. 1504-5, Raphael, Italy
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Raphael‘s painting has Raphael‘s usual clarity, predictability and balance. It does not add any extra drama to the subject it depicts. Indeed, the overall dynamics of the composition makes it look almost like a dance! There is at most one evil person on this painting, the one who pulls Jesus by the rope, but even he does not look like a villain, more like an elf! The intelligent faces of those depicted on this painting, the full sunlight, the luminous landscape on the background, even the primary colours of the clothing make you think that, somehow, there will be a happy end to the gruesome story this painting depicts.

The Crucifixion with the Converted Centurion, 1538, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Germany
The Crucifixion with the Converted Centurion,
1538, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Germany
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COMPARANDUM: The Small Crucifixion, cr. 1511-20, Matthias Grünewald, Germany
COMPARANDUM: The Small Crucifixion,
cr. 1511-20, Matthias Grünewald, Germany
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The subject of Lucas Cranach the Elder‘s painting is crucifixion, the darkest moment of the Bible. But does it fill you with sorrow and sadness? With its black top-part skies (is it day or is it night?), Jesus’s loincloth draping in a physically improbable way, and polished appearance of the horseman is visually dramatic. But it is a glossy sort of drama, well suited to be contemplated by a wealthy successful patron. Even if the figures on his painting are rendered in a somewhat medieval style, his painting is very anthropocentric, it complies with the Renaissance vision of the world, it is very ordered. We can immediately tell the “good” characters from the “bad” ones. The human being is indeed the supreme creation of the Almighty. In this crucifixion scene, it is actually the centurion, dressed a German Renaissance nobleman (perhaps showing the person who commissioned this picture?) who is in the centre of this painted universe.

To explain what I mean by “polished”, I have added a horseman-less crucifixion depiction painted by Cranach’s compatriot Matthias Grünewald. It equally very anthropocentric, also set against the dark sies, unlike Cracach’s version, it is very unpolished, and it indeed makes the viewers think about mortality and fills them with sorrow and compassion, as you would probably expect, given the nature of the subject. Matthias Grünewald is often viewed as an artist who rejected Renaissance, but, in my opinion, his humanity makes him a very Renaissance artist.

Massacre of the Innocents, 1565-7, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Netherlands
Massacre of the Innocents,
1565-7, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Netherlands
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Massacre of the Innocents (detail), 1565-7, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Netherlands
Massacre of the Innocents (detail),
1565-7, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, Netherlands
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In contrast, Pieter Bruegel the Elder‘s masterpiece is all chaos. The humans seem to be insignificant grains of sand, to the point that there are no “bad” or “good” characters, they are all the same, a myriad of little minds going about their lives doing the best they can, within their tiny limits. The subject is a sad one, but we empathise with these insignificant creatures no more than we empathise with dead leaves that fall off the trees in the autumn and winter. None of them deserves the second look, let alone being put in the centre of the universe. It appears as if the winter landscape, that serves as a backdrop of the scene of the massacre, matches the coldness of the painter’s attitude towards the characters depicted in the painting.

… And Seen In The Whole Set Of The 16th Century Horsemen

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We can see how different the 16th century was from the Renaissance, the strong shift towards modernity, that we have already started to see in Albrecht Dürer‘s works, got developed throughout the 16th century. Let us summarize these new features before discussing the individual works.

Ciriaco de' Pizzicolli, detail of a painting in Cappella del Palazzo Medici-Ricciardi, 1459, Florence, Italy
Ciriaco de' Pizzicolli, detail of a painting in Cappella del Palazzo Medici-Ricciardi,
1459, Florence, Italy
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A Horseman, Cavalier: 3 century BC, Etruscan civilisation; Horse: 1548, Benvenuto Cellini, Italy
A Horseman,
Cavalier: 3 century BC, Etruscan civilisation; Horse: 1548, Benvenuto Cellini, Italy
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A cameo with a horseman trampling his enemies, 3rd century (cameo) and 16th century (mount), Ancient Rome and Italy
A cameo with a horseman trampling his enemies,
3rd century (cameo) and 16th century (mount), Ancient Rome and Italy
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  • While acheology was reborn in the 15th century (its Renaissance father is Ciriaco de' Pizzicolli, 1391 – 1453/55), it clearly got more popular in the 16th century. Archeological discoveries have revived the interest in Antiquity, thus the depiction of Antique myths such as the siege of Troy, antique heroes such as Marcus Curtius and Meleager, and also contemporary heroes wearing armours à l’antique. We can see material evidence of the interest in antiques through the objects of composite origin when the objects of the antique past were upcycled by Renaissance artists to give them a new life,
  • new technologies that we see here are engraving and printing. Mass production of new media allowed much wider access to information and knowledge and ultimately enabled Reformation,
  • two conflicting trends in portraiture. One trend is the depiction of anonymous horseman that don’t represent a person but a function: Turkish horsemen, horsemen that illustrate books and manuals, etc. The other trend will lead to the creation of the format of grand equestrian portrait by the end of the century.
  • the art of dressage was revived. In 1550 Federico Grisone, a Neapolitan nobleman, has published the influential “The Rules of Riding”, one of the first works on horsemanship since the time of Xenophon. Obviously, it included Airs above the ground, some of which – the pesade, the levade and the mezair – are based on rearing,
  • endless wars have resulted in the proliferation of warfare, which is represented here by shields and helmets,
  • hedonism is represented by the hat badges, decorative dishes (Piatto da parata), drinking cups, playing cards and other games.

Horsemen In The 16th Century Fine Art

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Saint George

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St. George Killing the Dragon, 1525, Paris Bordone, Italy
St. George Killing the Dragon,
1525, Paris Bordone, Italy
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Saint George Killing the Dragon, cr. 1540, Giulio Clovio (Il Macedo), Rome, Italy
Saint George Killing the Dragon,
cr. 1540, Giulio Clovio (Il Macedo), Rome, Italy
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Saint George Killing the Dragon, 1542, Giulio Clovio (Il Macedo), Rome, Italy
Saint George Killing the Dragon,
1542, Giulio Clovio (Il Macedo), Rome, Italy
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St. George and the Dragon, 1550, Lelio Orsi, Italy
St. George and the Dragon,
1550, Lelio Orsi, Italy
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St. George and the Dragon, cr. 1560, Giorgio Vasari, Italy
St. George and the Dragon,
cr. 1560, Giorgio Vasari, Italy
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Saint George and The Dragon, 1581, Gillis Coignet, Flemish school
Saint George and The Dragon,
1581, Gillis Coignet, Flemish school
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Saint George killing the dragon, cr. 1600, Giuseppe Cesari, Rome, Italy
Saint George killing the dragon,
cr. 1600, Giuseppe Cesari, Rome, Italy
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Relatively few devotional paintings of Saint George on a rearing horse were produced at the time.

They have the usual features of Mannerist style: distorted poses, unusual colour palettes (bright but as far from primary colours as it is possible), the horses seem to show more muscles than they physically have. Giorgio Vasari‘s Saint George wears an antique tunic, not a medieval armour as on the earlier depictions of Saint George.

In contrast, we have many more secular horsemen on rearing horses than in the preceding century.

Individual Anonymous Horsemen

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The proliferation of anonymous horsemen was largely due to the proliferation of printing. Indeed, printing has reduced the cost of creating a lasting image, thus making them available for a wider audience and for the depiction of a wider range of subjects. The quantity came at the cost of the loss of identity – unlike before, many more horsemen don’t have names or any identifying features. The horsemen on the medals are reminiscent of the horsemen on the coins of Roman empire.

A medal with Maximilian I and a horseman trampling foot soldier and pursuing another, 1516-9, Hungary or Austria
A medal with Maximilian I and a horseman trampling foot soldier and pursuing another,
1516-9, Hungary or Austria
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A medal with François I and a horseman trampling a naked woman and holding a club, 1537, Italy
A medal with François I and a horseman trampling a naked woman and holding a club,
1537, Italy
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Cast bronze medal with the bust of Philip II of Spain and (reverse) Bellerophon on a rearing Pegasus, spearing the Chimaera, 1556, Gianpaolo Poggini, Spain
Cast bronze medal with the bust of Philip II of Spain and (reverse) Bellerophon on a rearing Pegasus, spearing the Chimaera,
1556, Gianpaolo Poggini, Spain
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COMPARANDUM: Sestertius showing Trajan on horseback on reverse, minted in 105 AD under Trajan, Roman Empire
COMPARANDUM: Sestertius showing Trajan on horseback on reverse,
minted in 105 AD under Trajan, Roman Empire
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Fight between two wild men on horseback, 1455 - 1503, Israhel van Meckenem, after Meester of the Amsterdam Cabinet, Bocholt, Germany
Fight between two wild men on horseback,
1455 - 1503, Israhel van Meckenem, after Meester of the Amsterdam Cabinet, Bocholt, Germany
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Turkish Horseman with sabre, cr. 1530, Niklas Stoer, Germany
Turkish Horseman with sabre,
cr. 1530, Niklas Stoer, Germany
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Turkish Horseman, cr. 1530, Niklas Stoer, Germany
Turkish Horseman,
cr. 1530, Niklas Stoer, Germany
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Turkish Archer, cr. 1530, Niklas Stoer, Germany
Turkish Archer,
cr. 1530, Niklas Stoer, Germany
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A captain on horseback, 1530-1562, Virgil Solis, Nuremberg, Germany
A captain on horseback,
1530-1562, Virgil Solis, Nuremberg, Germany
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A mounted officer, 1530-1555, Virgil Solis, Nuremberg, Germany
A mounted officer,
1530-1555, Virgil Solis, Nuremberg, Germany
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A knight and a soldier on horseback, 1559, Franz Isaac Brun, Germany
A knight and a soldier on horseback,
1559, Franz Isaac Brun, Germany
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Illustration of 'The Art of Athletics' by Paulus Hector Mair, mid 16th century, Augsburg, Holy Roman Empire
Illustration of 'The Art of Athletics' by Paulus Hector Mair,
mid 16th century, Augsburg, Holy Roman Empire
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A horsemen in antique dress holding a shield in his left hand, 1567, Abraham de Bruyn, Flanders
A horsemen in antique dress holding a shield in his left hand,
1567, Abraham de Bruyn, Flanders
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A horsemen in antique dress holding a shield in his left hand, with a dog, 1567, Abraham de Bruyn, Flanders
A horsemen in antique dress holding a shield in his left hand, with a dog,
1567, Abraham de Bruyn, Flanders
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A horsemen in antique dress holding a shield in his left hand, with a club in his right hand, 1568, Abraham de Bruyn, Flanders
A horsemen in antique dress holding a shield in his left hand, with a club in his right hand,
1568, Abraham de Bruyn, Flanders
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Lion Hunt, 1570-1600, Antonio Tempesta, Florence, Italy
Lion Hunt,
1570-1600, Antonio Tempesta, Florence, Italy
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Boar Hunt, 1570-1600, Antonio Tempesta, Florence, Italy
Boar Hunt,
1570-1600, Antonio Tempesta, Florence, Italy
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Stag Hunt, 1570-1600, Antonio Tempesta, Florence, Italy
Stag Hunt,
1570-1600, Antonio Tempesta, Florence, Italy
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A cavalryman holding a pistol, on a rearing horse, to right, after 1599, Jacques de Gheyn II, Netherlands
A cavalryman holding a pistol, on a rearing horse, to right,
after 1599, Jacques de Gheyn II, Netherlands
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Three cavalrymen in full armour with drawn swords, riding to the left, after 1599, Jacques de Gheyn II, Netherlands
Three cavalrymen in full armour with drawn swords, riding to the left,
after 1599, Jacques de Gheyn II, Netherlands
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Three cavalrymen in full armour with drawn swords, riding to the right, after 1599, Jacques de Gheyn II, Netherlands
Three cavalrymen in full armour with drawn swords, riding to the right,
after 1599, Jacques de Gheyn II, Netherlands
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A cavalryman holding a gun charging to left, after 1599, Jacques de Gheyn II, Netherlands
A cavalryman holding a gun charging to left,
after 1599, Jacques de Gheyn II, Netherlands
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A cavalryman raising his sword and charging to right, after 1599, Jacques de Gheyn II, Netherlands
A cavalryman raising his sword and charging to right,
after 1599, Jacques de Gheyn II, Netherlands
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A mounted trumpeter sounding his trumpet accompanied by a dog, after 1599, Jacques de Gheyn II, Netherlands
A mounted trumpeter sounding his trumpet accompanied by a dog,
after 1599, Jacques de Gheyn II, Netherlands
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Battle Scenes

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Many battles fought in the 16th century resulted in many paintings that illustrated them. The composition, where soldiers are no longer individuals, more of a surface of intertwined heads, torsos, limbs and arms, reminds of Roman sarcophagi that were made during large-scale Roman conquests.

Horatius Cocles Stopping King Porsenna's Army outside Rome, 1525-49, Ludwig Refinger, Bavaria, Germany
Horatius Cocles Stopping King Porsenna's Army outside Rome,
1525-49, Ludwig Refinger, Bavaria, Germany
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Horatius Cocles Stopping King Porsenna's Army outside Rome (detail), 1525-49, Ludwig Refinger, Bavaria, Germany
Horatius Cocles Stopping King Porsenna's Army outside Rome (detail),
1525-49, Ludwig Refinger, Bavaria, Germany
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The Battle of Alexander at Issus, 1529, Albrecht Altdorfer, Bavaria, Germany
The Battle of Alexander at Issus,
1529, Albrecht Altdorfer, Bavaria, Germany
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The Battle of Alexander at Issus, 1529, Albrecht Altdorfer, Bavaria, Germany
The Battle of Alexander at Issus,
1529, Albrecht Altdorfer, Bavaria, Germany
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Battle of White Mountain, 1620, Peter Snayers, Flemish
Battle of White Mountain,
1620, Peter Snayers, Flemish
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Battle of White Mountain (detail), 1620, Peter Snayers, Flemish
Battle of White Mountain (detail),
1620, Peter Snayers, Flemish
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COMPARANDUM: Portonaccio sarcophagus showing a battle scene between Roman soldiers and Germans, cr. 180–200, Rome
COMPARANDUM: Portonaccio sarcophagus showing a battle scene between Roman soldiers and Germans,
cr. 180–200, Rome
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In general, the painters of the 16th century seemed to be favouring antique battles over the contemporary ones, although there were exceptions.

Battle of Orsha (1514), cr. 1524-30, Hans Krell, Germany
Battle of Orsha (1514),
cr. 1524-30, Hans Krell, Germany
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Battle scene with landsquenets, cr. 1525-30, South Germany
Battle scene with landsquenets,
cr. 1525-30, South Germany
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Battle of Ticinus (218 BC), 1550s, Mantua, Italy
Battle of Ticinus (218 BC),
1550s, Mantua, Italy
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The Battle of Zama (202 BC), last third of the 16th century, Rome, Italy
The Battle of Zama (202 BC),
last third of the 16th century, Rome, Italy
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Palazzo Vecchio
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Palazzo Vecchio (the town hall of Florence), Founded in 1314, Florence
Palazzo Vecchio (the town hall of Florence),
Founded in 1314, Florence
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Copy of the lost Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo da Vinci, 1504-5, circa 1603, Peter Paul Rubens
Copy of the lost Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo da Vinci, 1504-5,
circa 1603, Peter Paul Rubens
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Palazzo Vecchio was founded in Florence in 1314, under the name of Palazzo della Signoria. Duke Cosimo I de’ Medici (later to become grand duke) moved his official seat from the Medici palazzo in via Larga to the Palazzo della Signoria in 1540, signalling the security of Medici power in Florence. When Cosimo later removed to Palazzo Pitti, he officially renamed his former palace to the Palazzo Vecchio, the “Old Palace”.

During the reign of Cosimo I, the palace was decorated with magnificent wall paintings, including some with horsemen on rearing horses. Unfortunately the older wall paintings, including those created by Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, were lost.

The stories of Furio Camillo, 1543-5, Francesco Salviati, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
The stories of Furio Camillo,
1543-5, Francesco Salviati, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
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The stories of Furio Camillo (detail), 1543-5, Francesco Salviati, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
The stories of Furio Camillo (detail),
1543-5, Francesco Salviati, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
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Horse joust in Piazza Santa Croce, 1561 - 1562, Jan Van der Straet, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
Horse joust in Piazza Santa Croce,
1561 - 1562, Jan Van der Straet, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
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Defeat of the Pisans at the Tower of San Vincenzo,1568-71, Giorgio Vasari, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
Defeat of the Pisans at the Tower of San Vincenzo,
1568-71, Giorgio Vasari, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
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The battle of Marciano in Val di Chiana,  1570-1, Giorgio Vasari, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
The battle of Marciano in Val di Chiana,
1570-1, Giorgio Vasari, Palazzo Vecchio, Florence
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Marcus Curtius

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Marcus Curtius is a mythological young Roman who offered himself to the gods of Hades in order to save Rome. He is not the best known Antiquity hero nowadays, but he was extremely popular in the 16th century.

His popularity could be explained by the atmosphere of the time. Reformation started with the publication of the Ninety-five Theses by Martin Luther in 1517, and resulted in almost 200 years of European wars of religion. The death toll (counting only 6 most important European wars of religion) was between 6,000,000 and 17,268,000, which is enormous, given that the total population of Europe in 1500 was about 90,000,000. Perhaps this explains why Marcus Curtius, the embodiment of loyalty, bravery and self-sacrifice, was popular with both Catholic and Protestant patrons.

Marcus Curtius leaping into the abyss, 1513,  Jacopo Carucci, called Pontormo, Florence
Marcus Curtius leaping into the abyss,
1513, Jacopo Carucci, called Pontormo, Florence
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Marcus Curtius, cr. 1520-30, possibly by Bacchiacca, Florence
Marcus Curtius,
cr. 1520-30, possibly by Bacchiacca, Florence
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Roundel with naked Marcus Curtius, 1529, Germany
Roundel with naked Marcus Curtius,
1529, Germany
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Medallion of Francisco II Gonzaga with the depiction of Marcus Curtius, 1530, Bartulus Talpa, Mantua
Medallion of Francisco II Gonzaga with the depiction of Marcus Curtius,
1530, Bartulus Talpa, Mantua
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Marcus Curtius Leaping into the Abyss, cr. 1530, Pseudo-Pacchia, Siena
Marcus Curtius Leaping into the Abyss,
cr. 1530, Pseudo-Pacchia, Siena
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Marcus Curtius rides into the abyss, cr. 1535, Georg Pencz, Germany
Marcus Curtius rides into the abyss,
cr. 1535, Georg Pencz, Germany
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Roundel with Marcus Curtius, 1540, Hans Brosamer, Germany
Roundel with Marcus Curtius,
1540, Hans Brosamer, Germany
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Marcus Curtius' sacrifice, cr. 1540, Refinger Ludwig, Germany
Marcus Curtius' sacrifice,
cr. 1540, Refinger Ludwig, Germany
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Marcus Curtius' sacrifice (detail), cr. 1540, Refinger Ludwig, Germany
Marcus Curtius' sacrifice (detail),
cr. 1540, Refinger Ludwig, Germany
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Earthenware tiles showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the abyss, 1542, Abaquesne Masséot, France
Earthenware tiles showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the abyss,
1542, Abaquesne Masséot, France
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The sacrificial death of Marcus Curtius, 1550-2, Paolo Veronese, Venice, Italy
The sacrificial death of Marcus Curtius,
1550-2, Paolo Veronese, Venice, Italy
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Horsemen In The 16th Century Applied Art

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Amunition, Most With Marcus Curtius

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Since wars were so common in the 16th century, there was a great demand for luxurious, ornate ammunition: helmets, shields, etc. According to Victoria and Albert Museum research, by the early seventeenth century it was increasingly common for men to proclaim their military professions by combining pieces of armour or weaponry with civilian clothing. Sometimes this might just be aspirational as gorgets, spurs, swords, and daggers took on the role of dress accessories.

With the exception of Ghisi Shield and gorget, they all are decorated with the depictions of Marcus Curtius‘ leap.

Ghisi Shield, 1554, Giorgio Ghisi, Mantua (?), Italy
Ghisi Shield,
1554, Giorgio Ghisi, Mantua (?), Italy
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Ghisi Shield (detail), 1554, Giorgio Ghisi, Mantua (?), Italy
Ghisi Shield (detail),
1554, Giorgio Ghisi, Mantua (?), Italy
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Balaclava with the depictions of Marcus Curtius and Horatius Cocles, 1560, Milan
Balaclava with the depictions of Marcus Curtius and Horatius Cocles,
1560, Milan
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Panel of embossed iron showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the chasm, cr. 1570, Antwerp, Belgium
Panel of embossed iron showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the chasm,
cr. 1570, Antwerp, Belgium
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'Spanish' morion with cartouches depicting Marcus Curtius and Mucius Scaevola, cr. 1570-80, Northern Italy, probably Milan
'Spanish' morion with cartouches depicting Marcus Curtius and Mucius Scaevola,
cr. 1570-80, Northern Italy, probably Milan
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Cabasset with Marcus Curtius leaping into a fiery abyss, cr. 1575, Milan
Cabasset with Marcus Curtius leaping into a fiery abyss,
cr. 1575, Milan
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A morion of a guard of the Prince Electors of Saxony showing Marcus Curtius sacrifice, cr. 1580-91, Dresden
A morion of a guard of the Prince Electors of Saxony showing Marcus Curtius sacrifice,
cr. 1580-91, Dresden
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Gorget (armoured collar), front plate shows an officer on a rearing horse with a baton addressing a troop of pikemen, 1600-25, Paris, France
Gorget (armoured collar), front plate shows an officer on a rearing horse with a baton addressing a troop of pikemen,
1600-25, Paris, France
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Gorget (armoured collar), back plate shows an officer on a rearing horse killing an enemy, 1600-25, Paris, France
Gorget (armoured collar), back plate shows an officer on a rearing horse killing an enemy,
1600-25, Paris, France
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Jewellery And Homewear, Most With Marcus Curtius

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Almost all of the items below are decorated with the depictions of Marcus Curtius‘ leap. The only exceptions are the playing cards designed by Virgil Solis: they show anonymous kings and a queen, and one hat badge showing Saint George. It is surprising how little Saint George was popular in the 16th century compared to Marcus Curtius. Perhaps it is because the loyalty to the country was so important during this turbulent century.

Wood and ivory casket carved with scenes including Marcus Curtius sacrifice, cr. 1500, Italy
Wood and ivory casket carved with scenes including Marcus Curtius sacrifice,
cr. 1500, Italy
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Casket showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the abyss, cr. 1500, Northern Italy
Casket showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the abyss,
cr. 1500, Northern Italy
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Casket showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the abyss, 1500-50, Italy
Casket showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the abyss,
1500-50, Italy
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Playing card, the king of lions, cr. 1550, Virgil Solis, Nuremberg, Germany
Playing card, the king of lions,
cr. 1550, Virgil Solis, Nuremberg, Germany
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Playing card, the queen of peacocks, cr. 1550, Virgil Solis, Nuremberg, Germany
Playing card, the queen of peacocks,
cr. 1550, Virgil Solis, Nuremberg, Germany
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Playing card, the horse of peacocks, cr. 1550, Virgil Solis, Nuremberg, Germany
Playing card, the horse of peacocks,
cr. 1550, Virgil Solis, Nuremberg, Germany
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Medallion with St. George and the Dragon, late 15th - early 16th century, Germany
Medallion with St. George and the Dragon,
late 15th - early 16th century, Germany
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Hat badge with St George and the dragon, cr. 1520, Flemish
Hat badge with St George and the dragon,
cr. 1520, Flemish
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Hat-ornament with Saint George and Dragon, 1550-1575, Germany and France
Hat-ornament with Saint George and Dragon,
1550-1575, Germany and France
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A hat badge with the figure of Marcus Curtius leaping into the chasm, 16th century, Italy
A hat badge with the figure of Marcus Curtius leaping into the chasm,
16th century, Italy
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A hat badge depicting Marcus Curtius leaping into gulf, 16th century, Italy
A hat badge depicting Marcus Curtius leaping into gulf,
16th century, Italy
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Victim's death of Marcus Curtius, cr. 1560, Francesco Tortorino, Milan
Victim's death of Marcus Curtius,
cr. 1560, Francesco Tortorino, Milan
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Cameo depicting the feat of Marcus Curtius, third quarter of the 16th century, probably Francesco Tortorino, Italy
Cameo depicting the feat of Marcus Curtius,
third quarter of the 16th century, probably Francesco Tortorino, Italy
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Cameo depicting the devotion of Marcus Curtius, 16th century, Italy
Cameo depicting the devotion of Marcus Curtius,
16th century, Italy
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Design for a pendant with the depiction of Marcus Curtius, 1555-1562, Pierre Woeiriot, France
Design for a pendant with the depiction of Marcus Curtius,
1555-1562, Pierre Woeiriot, France
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Two large and four small pendants; St George on the large pendant on l, Marcus Curtius on r, 1562, Erasmus Hornick, Nuremberg, Germany
Two large and four small pendants; St George on the large pendant on l, Marcus Curtius on r,
1562, Erasmus Hornick, Nuremberg, Germany
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A pair of Limoges enamel candlesticks (detail), cr. 1560, Jean de Court, Limoges, France
A pair of Limoges enamel candlesticks (detail),
cr. 1560, Jean de Court, Limoges, France
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A pair of Limoges enamel candlesticks (detail), cr. 1560, Jean de Court, Limoges, France
A pair of Limoges enamel candlesticks (detail),
cr. 1560, Jean de Court, Limoges, France
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A pair of Limoges enamel candlesticks, cr. 1560, Jean de Court, Limoges, France
A pair of Limoges enamel candlesticks,
cr. 1560, Jean de Court, Limoges, France
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The Griffin's claw cup showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the chasm and Lot and his daughters, 1541-1583, Hans and Lorenz Faust, Mainz, Germany
The Griffin's claw cup showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the chasm and Lot and his daughters,
1541-1583, Hans and Lorenz Faust, Mainz, Germany
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Detail of the Griffin's claw cup showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the chasm, 1541-1583, Hans and Lorenz Faust, Mainz, Germany
Detail of the Griffin's claw cup showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the chasm,
1541-1583, Hans and Lorenz Faust, Mainz, Germany
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A lidded cup with scenes including Marcus Curtius sacrifice, cr. 1580, Joerg (Georg) Plainchhiern (?), Landshut (?), Germany
A lidded cup with scenes including Marcus Curtius sacrifice,
cr. 1580, Joerg (Georg) Plainchhiern (?), Landshut (?), Germany
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Silver drinking horn of the St. George or Crossbow Civic Guards, 1566, Frederik Jans, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Silver drinking horn of the St. George or Crossbow Civic Guards,
1566, Frederik Jans, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Backgammon board decorated with ebony and carved bone, 1581-1600, probably Augsburg, Germany
Backgammon board decorated with ebony and carved bone,
1581-1600, probably Augsburg, Germany
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Backgammon board decorated with ebony and carved bone (detail), 1581-1600, probably Augsburg, Germany
Backgammon board decorated with ebony and carved bone (detail),
1581-1600, probably Augsburg, Germany
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The Roman Marcus Curtius over the fiery abyss, 1591-5 (?), Egidius Lobenigk, Dresden (?)
The Roman Marcus Curtius over the fiery abyss,
1591-5 (?), Egidius Lobenigk, Dresden (?)
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Self-sacrifice of Marcus Curtius, 1596-1600, Paulus Willemsz van Vianen, Netherlands
Self-sacrifice of Marcus Curtius,
1596-1600, Paulus Willemsz van Vianen, Netherlands
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Sundial with Marcus Curtius on a prancing horse (object reconstruction), 1601, Andreas Pleninger, Regensburg, Germany
Sundial with Marcus Curtius on a prancing horse (object reconstruction),
1601, Andreas Pleninger, Regensburg, Germany
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Sundial with Marcus Curtius on a prancing horse, 1601, Andreas Pleninger, Regensburg, Germany
Sundial with Marcus Curtius on a prancing horse,
1601, Andreas Pleninger, Regensburg, Germany
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A Dutch silver ewer with scenes including Marcus Curtius sacrifice, 1619, Adam van Vianen, Utrecht, Netherlands
A Dutch silver ewer with scenes including Marcus Curtius sacrifice,
1619, Adam van Vianen, Utrecht, Netherlands
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A Dutch silver ewer with scenes including Marcus Curtius sacrifice, 1619,  Adam van Vianen,  Utrecht, Netherlands
A Dutch silver ewer with scenes including Marcus Curtius sacrifice,
1619, Adam van Vianen, Utrecht, Netherlands
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Maiolica ceramics

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The only exception I am aware of is Deruta ceramics. Deruta is a tiny (population 8935 as of 2007) hill town in Central Italy, halfway between Florence and Rome. It is not very well-known today, but it used to be famous for its Maiolica ceramics. The city started producing it in the early Middle Ages, and it still makes it. The pick of its popularity was reached in the 15th and early 16th centuries.

Fierce-looking horsemen were a favourite subject on mid-sixteenth-century Deruta maiolica. Many are dressed as Turkish warriors, but there is a great variety of riders: Roman and Jewish warriors, Saint George, medieval knights and contemporary soldiers, and even children.

The motif of the horseman was also popular in Faenza and Urbino, other Italian towns renowned for their ceramics. They seemed to specialize in depicting Marcus Curtius.

Various Horsemen
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Bowl with a naked boy holding a sail on a galloping horse, 1520-30, possibly Nicola Francioli, Deruta
Bowl with a naked boy holding a sail on a galloping horse,
1520-30, possibly Nicola Francioli, Deruta
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Dish depicting Judas Maccabeus, 16 century, unknown, Deruta
Dish depicting Judas Maccabeus,
16 century, unknown, Deruta
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Dish depicting Saint George and the Dragon, 1530-40, unknown, Deruta
Dish depicting Saint George and the Dragon,
1530-40, unknown, Deruta
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Dish depicting two riders, cr. 1520, unknown, Deruta
Dish depicting two riders,
cr. 1520, unknown, Deruta
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Dish depicting a Lion Hunt, cr. 1520-47, Baldassare Manara, Faenza
Dish depicting a Lion Hunt,
cr. 1520-47, Baldassare Manara, Faenza
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Dish depicting a battle, cr. 1500-10, possibly Mancini workshop, Deruta
Dish depicting a battle,
cr. 1500-10, possibly Mancini workshop, Deruta
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Plate depicting a battle, 1554, possibly Mancini workshop, Deruta
Plate depicting a battle,
1554, possibly Mancini workshop, Deruta
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Dish depicting an episode from the Sack of Rome, 1527: the assault on the Borgo (?), cr. 1540, Workshop of Guido Durantino (Guido Fontana), Urbino
Dish depicting an episode from the Sack of Rome, 1527: the assault on the Borgo (?),
cr. 1540, Workshop of Guido Durantino (Guido Fontana), Urbino
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Plaque depicting Battistone Castellini of Faenza, 3 July 1536, Baldassare Manara, Faenza
Plaque depicting Battistone Castellini of Faenza,
3 July 1536, Baldassare Manara, Faenza
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A maiolica plate showing a battle on a drawbridge, cr. 1540, the workshop of Guido da Merlingo, Urbino
A maiolica plate showing a battle on a drawbridge,
cr. 1540, the workshop of Guido da Merlingo, Urbino
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A maiolica plate showing ablazed Troy, cr. 1550-60, workshop of Virgiliotto Calamelli, Urbino or Faenza
A maiolica plate showing ablazed Troy,
cr. 1550-60, workshop of Virgiliotto Calamelli, Urbino or Faenza
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A maiolica plate showing a hunting scene, late 16th century, Urbino
A maiolica plate showing a hunting scene,
late 16th century, Urbino
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Plate depicting a Turk on horseback, cr. 1520-50, Deruta
Plate depicting a Turk on horseback,
cr. 1520-50, Deruta
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Dish depicting a Turkish rider, 1520-60, unknown, Deruta
Dish depicting a Turkish rider,
1520-60, unknown, Deruta
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Dish with a horseman, cr. 1540-70, unknown, Deruta
Dish with a horseman,
cr. 1540-70, unknown, Deruta
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Dish depicting a man carrying a spear on a horse, mid-16th century, possibly Mancini workshop, Deruta
Dish depicting a man carrying a spear on a horse,
mid-16th century, possibly Mancini workshop, Deruta
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Marcus Curtius
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Plate depicting The Devotion of Marcus Curtius, cr. 1525, Faenza
Plate depicting The Devotion of Marcus Curtius,
cr. 1525, Faenza
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Maiolica plate showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the abyss, cr. 1525, Faenza
Maiolica plate showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the abyss,
cr. 1525, Faenza
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Bergantini cup depicting the history of the sacrifice of Marcus Curtius, 1529, Pietro Bergantini, Faenza
Bergantini cup depicting the history of the sacrifice of Marcus Curtius,
1529, Pietro Bergantini, Faenza
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Maiolica plate showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the abyss, 1538, Urbino
Maiolica plate showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the abyss,
1538, Urbino
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Plate with The Heroism of Marcus Curtius, 1542, workshop of Guido de Merlino, Urbino
Plate with The Heroism of Marcus Curtius,
1542, workshop of Guido de Merlino, Urbino
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Maiolica plate showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the abyss, 1544, Urbino
Maiolica plate showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the abyss,
1544, Urbino
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Maiolica plate showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the abyss, 1545, Urbino
Maiolica plate showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the abyss,
1545, Urbino
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Maiolica plate showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the abyss, cr. 1550, Urbino
Maiolica plate showing Marcus Curtius leaping into the abyss,
cr. 1550, Urbino
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Plate depicting the good Roman Curtius in his grim act devotion, cr. 1550, Italy
Plate depicting the good Roman Curtius in his grim act devotion,
cr. 1550, Italy
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Plate depicting Marcus Curtius, cr. 1550, Urbino
Plate depicting Marcus Curtius,
cr. 1550, Urbino
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Dish depicting the sacrifice of Marcus Curtius, cr. 1550-60, workshop of Virgiliotto Calamelli, Faenza
Dish depicting the sacrifice of Marcus Curtius,
cr. 1550-60, workshop of Virgiliotto Calamelli, Faenza
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A maiolica plate from the Scheuffelin service showing the sacrifice of Marcus Curtius, cr. 1560, Urbino
A maiolica plate from the Scheuffelin service showing the sacrifice of Marcus Curtius,
cr. 1560, Urbino
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A maiolica plate showing the sacrifice of Marcus Curtius, cr. 1560-1570, workshop of Guido Durantino or of Orazio Fontana, Urbino
A maiolica plate showing the sacrifice of Marcus Curtius,
cr. 1560-1570, workshop of Guido Durantino or of Orazio Fontana, Urbino
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Royal Horsemen

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The first modern-era portraits of royalty and nobility on rearing horses were created in the 16th century. There were several series of prints and several paintings that depicted living or recently deceased personalities.

Emergence of grand equestrian portrait: series of prints and Titian’s ‘Charles V’

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During the 16th century, we will witness the emergence of a large series of prints that depict royals and nobility of the recent past and antique rulers and heroes, and only one significant painting of the same subject. Together, they will lead to crystallisation of a cliché equestrian portrait that will become ubiquitous in the 17th and 18th centuries.

“The Counts and Counts of Holland” by Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, 1518

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The series “The Counts and Counts of Holland” was created by Dutch printmaker Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen in 1518. The prints in this series show groups portraits of horsemen (and a horsewoman), with one of the horses rearing.

Mary of Burgundy, Maximilian I, Philip the Fair and Charles V, 1518, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Mary of Burgundy, Maximilian I, Philip the Fair and Charles V,
1518, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Arnulf, Dirk III, Dirk IV en Floris I, 1518, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Arnulf, Dirk III, Dirk IV en Floris I,
1518, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Gertruida van Saksen, Robrecht I de Fries, Godfried Hunchback and Dirk V, 1518, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Gertruida van Saksen, Robrecht I de Fries, Godfried Hunchback and Dirk V,
1518, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Floris II, Dirk VI, Floris III and Dirk VII, 1518, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Floris II, Dirk VI, Floris III and Dirk VII,
1518, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Floris V, Jan I, Jan II and Willem III, 1518, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Floris V, Jan I, Jan II and Willem III,
1518, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Ada, Willem I, Floris IV and Willem II, 1518, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Ada, Willem I, Floris IV and Willem II,
1518, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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“Nine Heroes” by Lucas van Leyden, cr. 1520

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Just a few years later, in cr. 1520, Dutch painter and printmaker Lucas van Leyden has created a series that depicts nine heroes on horseback. Two of them, Hector of Troy and Charlemagne, are depicted on rearing horses.

Arthus, Charles the Great (Charlemagne), Godfrey of Bouillon (the Christian heroes on horseback), cr. 1520, Lucas van Leyden, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Arthus, Charles the Great (Charlemagne), Godfrey of Bouillon (the Christian heroes on horseback),
cr. 1520, Lucas van Leyden, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Hector of Troy, Alexander of Macedon, Julius Caesar (the pagan heroes on horseback), cr. 1520, Lucas van Leyden, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Hector of Troy, Alexander of Macedon, Julius Caesar (the pagan heroes on horseback),
cr. 1520, Lucas van Leyden, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Images of Royalty by Cornelis Anthonisz and Hans Liefrinck the elder, 1536 – 1573

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A series of coloured prints that portray royals was created and published by Dutch printmaker Hans Liefrinck in the manner of Cornelis Anthonisz. starting from 1536. About half of the prints in this series show horsemen on rearing horses.

In addition, Cornelis Anthonisz. has created a painting that depicts a nobleman on a rearing horse. Incidentally, Cornelis Anthonisz. was a grandson of Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen.

Henry VIII, king of England, on Horseback, 1536-40, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
Henry VIII, king of England, on Horseback,
1536-40, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
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Henry VIII, king of England, on Horseback, 1538-48, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
Henry VIII, king of England, on Horseback,
1538-48, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
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Henry II, king of France, on Horseback, 1542-43, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
Henry II, king of France, on Horseback,
1542-43, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
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Emperor Charles V on Horseback, 1538-45, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
Emperor Charles V on Horseback,
1538-45, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
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Willem van Gulik, duke of Gelre, on Horseback, 1538-42, Cornelis Anthonisz., Antwerp, Netherlands
Willem van Gulik, duke of Gelre, on Horseback,
1538-42, Cornelis Anthonisz., Antwerp, Netherlands
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Charles, Duke of Orleans, on Horseback, 1538-45, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
Charles, Duke of Orleans, on Horseback,
1538-45, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
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Ferdinand I, king of Austria, on Horseback, 1538-42, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
Ferdinand I, king of Austria, on Horseback,
1538-42, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
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Philip II, king of Spain, on Horseback, 1543-44, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
Philip II, king of Spain, on Horseback,
1543-44, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
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Francis I, king of France, on Horseback, 1542-44, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
Francis I, king of France, on Horseback,
1542-44, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
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Emmanuel Philibert, duke of Savoy, on Horseback, 1546-50, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
Emmanuel Philibert, duke of Savoy, on Horseback,
1546-50, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
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John II, king of Portugal, on Horseback, 1540-44, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Sylvester van Parijs, Antwerp, Netherlands
John II, king of Portugal, on Horseback,
1540-44, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Sylvester van Parijs, Antwerp, Netherlands
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Philip de Lalaing, Count of Hoogstraten, on Horseback, 1544-73, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
Philip de Lalaing, Count of Hoogstraten, on Horseback,
1544-73, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
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COMPARANDUM: Four studies for the uncompleted equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza,1490-1510, after Leonardo da Vinci
COMPARANDUM: Four studies for the uncompleted equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza,
1490-1510, after Leonardo da Vinci
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Reinoud III van Brederode, circa 1550, Cornelis Anthonisz
Reinoud III van Brederode,
circa 1550, Cornelis Anthonisz
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The most interesting image here is the picture of Philip de Lalaing, 2nd Count of Hoogstraten – he holds a baton in a hand stretched backwards in a way that reminds us of a project was a monument to Francesco Sforza by Leonardo da Vinci.

“Equestrian Portrait of Charles V” by Titian, 1548

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Very paintings that portray royalty on rearing horses created until the end of the century, and they were perhaps not very interesting from the artistic point of view.

There is only one exception, but it is very significant: it is Equestrian Portrait of Charles V created by Titian in 1548. The lance and the slightly rearing position of the horse remind us of the representation of Saint George. However, researchers of Prado explain that the message of the portrait was not a religious, but a political one.

Equestrian Portrait of Charles V at the battle of Mühlberg, 1548, Titian, Augsburg, Germany
Equestrian Portrait of Charles V at the battle of Mühlberg,
1548, Titian, Augsburg, Germany
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They also say: “‘The Emperor Charles V at Mühlberg’ lacks precedents in Italian art and scholars have thus generally made reference to classical and Renaissance sculpture, such as Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius and Andrea del Verrocchio’s Equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni, as well as to German art, particularly Albrecht Dürer’s ‘Knight, Death and Devil’. Above all it has been associated with Hans Burgkmair the Elder, who in 1508 produced a woodcut of Maximilian I on Horseback, and in 1509-10 a Project for an Equestrian Sculpture of Maximilian I (Vienna, Graphische Sammlung Albertina). The reference to Maximilian (Charles V was the first son of Maximian’s first son Philip I of Castile, thus the most senior grandchild) is particularly apt as it points to a tradition of equestrian portraits of the head of the Holy Roman Empire with which Charles V had previously been associated at Mühlberg. Images of Charles of this type included the reliefs of 1522 by Hans Daucher and the coloured engravings produced by Hans Liefrinck in Antwerp in 1542-4. It can be assumed that Charles must have intentionally sought out these affinities. Immediately after the battle of Mühlberg he commissioned an equestrian sculpture from Leone Leoni which, although ultimately unexecuted, recalls the project for the sculpture of Maximilian referred to above and which, along with the present work by Titian, was intended to reinforce the image of Charles as Emperor in a way appropriate to the particular political situation of Germany in 1547-8.”

COMPARANDUM: Emperor Charles V on Horseback, 1538-45, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
COMPARANDUM: Emperor Charles V on Horseback,
1538-45, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
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COMPARANDUM: Charles V on Horseback, 1522, Hans Daucher, Augsburg, Germany
COMPARANDUM: Charles V on Horseback,
1522, Hans Daucher, Augsburg, Germany
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COMPARANDUM: Man on horseback holding a scroll or stick in his right hand, 1490-4, Albrecht Dürer, Germany
COMPARANDUM: Man on horseback holding a scroll or stick in his right hand,
1490-4, Albrecht Dürer, Germany
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COMPARANDUM: Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius, cr. 175 AD, Rome
COMPARANDUM: Equestrian Statue of Marcus Aurelius,
cr. 175 AD, Rome
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COMPARANDUM: Equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleon, 1480–88, Andrea del Verrocchio, Venice, Italy
COMPARANDUM: Equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleon,
1480–88, Andrea del Verrocchio, Venice, Italy
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COMPARANDUM: Triumph of Emperor Maximilian I (detail), 1526, Ulg Lis or Hans Burgkmair, Vienna, Holy Roman Empire
COMPARANDUM: Triumph of Emperor Maximilian I (detail),
1526, Ulg Lis or Hans Burgkmair, Vienna, Holy Roman Empire
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COMPARANDUM: Emperor Maximilian I on Horseback, 1508-18, Hans Burgkmair, Vienna, Holy Roman Empire
COMPARANDUM: Emperor Maximilian I on Horseback,
1508-18, Hans Burgkmair, Vienna, Holy Roman Empire
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COMPARANDUM: Project for an equestrian statue for Emperor Maximilian I, 1509-10, Hans Burgkmair, Vienna, Holy Roman Empire
COMPARANDUM: Project for an equestrian statue for Emperor Maximilian I,
1509-10, Hans Burgkmair, Vienna, Holy Roman Empire
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Prado researchers continue: “Despite its seminal nature, this truly exceptional work did not find immediate echoes in art, and the equestrian portrait had to wait until the early decades of the 17th century and the hand of Peter Paul Rubens before it came to occupy a place of honour in court art.”

We could argue that, while comparable paintings are indeed unexistent, many prints with comparable iconography were produced at that time. Thus, this portrait is indeed exceptional in quality, but very well fits with other equestrian portraits produced at that time.

“The victories of Emperor Charles V” by Dirck Volckertsz Coornhert, 1555 – 1556

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Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert (1522 – 90) was a Dutch writer, philosopher, translator, politician, theologian and artist. Coornhert is often considered the Father of Dutch Renaissance scholarship.

In 1555-56 he has engraved a series of 12 plates that were glorifying the victories of the emperor Charles V, after the drafts of Maarten van Heemskerck. Three of them feature horsemen on rearing horses!

The capturing of Francis I at the Battle of Pavia, 1525, from the series 'The victories of Emperor Charles V', 1555-56, Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert and Maarten van Heemskerck, Haarlem and Antwerp, Netherlands
The capturing of Francis I at the Battle of Pavia, 1525, from the series 'The victories of Emperor Charles V',
1555-56, Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert and Maarten van Heemskerck, Haarlem and Antwerp, Netherlands
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Relief of Vienna, 1529, from the series 'The victories of Emperor Charles V', 1555-56, Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert and Maarten van Heemskerck, Haarlem and Antwerp, Netherlands
Relief of Vienna, 1529, from the series 'The victories of Emperor Charles V',
1555-56, Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert and Maarten van Heemskerck, Haarlem and Antwerp, Netherlands
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Capture of Tunis, 1535, from the series 'The victories of Emperor Charles V', 1555-56, Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert and Maarten van Heemskerck, Haarlem and Antwerp, Netherlands
Capture of Tunis, 1535, from the series 'The victories of Emperor Charles V',
1555-56, Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert and Maarten van Heemskerck, Haarlem and Antwerp, Netherlands
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“The First Twelve Roman Caesars” by Antonio Tempesta, 1596

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In 1596, Italian painter and engraver Antonio Tempesta has produced a series of prints “The First Twelve Roman Caesars”. All caesars were depicted on horseback, and half of them were on rearing horses.

Emperor Julius Caesar on Horseback, plate 1, 1596, Antonio Tempesta
Emperor Julius Caesar on Horseback, plate 1,
1596, Antonio Tempesta
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Emperor Gaius on Horseback, plate 4, 1596, Antonio Tempesta
Emperor Gaius on Horseback, plate 4,
1596, Antonio Tempesta
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Emperor Nero on Horseback, plate 6, 1596, Antonio Tempesta
Emperor Nero on Horseback, plate 6,
1596, Antonio Tempesta
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Emperor Otho on Horseback, plate 8, 1596, Antonio Tempesta
Emperor Otho on Horseback, plate 8,
1596, Antonio Tempesta
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Emperor Vitellus on Horseback, plate 9, 1596, Antonio Tempesta
Emperor Vitellus on Horseback, plate 9,
1596, Antonio Tempesta
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Emperor Vespasian on Horseback, plate 11, 1596, Antonio Tempesta
Emperor Vespasian on Horseback, plate 11,
1596, Antonio Tempesta
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“The Twelve Emperors/Roman Emperors on Horseback” by Crispijn de Passe the Elder, cr. 1579 – 1637

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In cr. 1579-1637 Crispijn de Passe the Elder has published a series of engravings titled “The Twelve Emperors/Roman Emperors on Horseback”. In this series, three of the emperors are depicted on rearing horses.

Portrait of Roman emperor Domitian, 1579-1637, Jan van der Straet, Italy and Frandres
Portrait of Roman emperor Domitian,
1579-1637, Jan van der Straet, Italy and Frandres
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Portrait of Roman emperor Otho, 1579-1637, Jan van der Straet, Italy and Frandres
Portrait of Roman emperor Otho,
1579-1637, Jan van der Straet, Italy and Frandres
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Portrait of Roman emperor Nero, 1579-1637, Jan van der Straet, Italy and Frandres
Portrait of Roman emperor Nero,
1579-1637, Jan van der Straet, Italy and Frandres
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“Governors of the Netherlands” by Hessel Gerritsz, cr. 1591 – 1632

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Emanuel van Meteren (1535-1612) was a Flemish historian and Consul for “the Traders of the Low Countries” in London. His father, Sir Jacobus van Meteren, was a Dutch financier and publisher of early English versions of the Bible.

In 1612, just before his death, he published a book about Dutch history, “Historien der Nederlanden, en haar naburen oorlogen tot het iaar 1612”. The engravings by Hessel Gerritsz shown below were used as its illustrations. Hessel Gerritsz (cr. 1581 – 1632) was a Dutch engraver, cartographer and publisher. Some of his contemporaries were considering him “unquestionably the chief Dutch cartographer of the 17th century”.

François-Hercule de Valois, Duke of Anjou, 1591 - 1632, Hessel Gerritsz, Amsterdam, Netherlands
François-Hercule de Valois, Duke of Anjou,
1591 - 1632, Hessel Gerritsz, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma, 1591 - 1632, Hessel Gerritsz, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Alessandro Farnese, Duke of Parma,
1591 - 1632, Hessel Gerritsz, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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John of Austria, 1591 - 1632, Hessel Gerritsz, Amsterdam, Netherlands
John of Austria,
1591 - 1632, Hessel Gerritsz, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba, 1591 - 1632, Hessel Gerritsz, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Fernando Álvarez de Toledo, 3rd Duke of Alba,
1591 - 1632, Hessel Gerritsz, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Maurice, Prince of Orange, 1591 - 1632, Hessel Gerritsz, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Maurice, Prince of Orange,
1591 - 1632, Hessel Gerritsz, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Individual Drawings and prints that show horsemen on rearing horses

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A number of drawings and prints made in the 16th century have the same subject. Among them the image of Marcus Curtius created by Hendrik Goltzius, a German-born Dutch printmaker, draftsman and painter, in 1586, might be the most influential one, judging by how many copies of it exist.

Artybios on Horseback Attacking Onesilus, 1510-1547, Jörg Breu the Younger, Augsburg, Germany
Artybios on Horseback Attacking Onesilus,
1510-1547, Jörg Breu the Younger, Augsburg, Germany
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Artybios on Horseback Attacking Onesilus, 1510-1547, Jörg Breu the Younger, Augsburg, Germany
Artybios on Horseback Attacking Onesilus,
1510-1547, Jörg Breu the Younger, Augsburg, Germany
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Hannibal mounted on a horse, 1530-1562, Virgil Solis, Nuremberg, Germany
Hannibal mounted on a horse,
1530-1562, Virgil Solis, Nuremberg, Germany
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Giovanni de Medici in a Duel, cr. 1578, Hendrick Goltzius, Netherlands
Giovanni de Medici in a Duel,
cr. 1578, Hendrick Goltzius, Netherlands
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Marcus Curtius, The Roman Heroes series, 1586, Hendrik Goltzius
Marcus Curtius, The Roman Heroes series,
1586, Hendrik Goltzius
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Marcus Curtius, The Roman Heroes series, 1586-1617, circle of Hendrick Goltzius
Marcus Curtius, The Roman Heroes series,
1586-1617, circle of Hendrick Goltzius
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End of the 16th century: Horseman on a Rearing Horse Clichés Appears

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As we will see further on, the image of a horseman on a rearing horse became very popular in the 16th century. Furthermore, two standard representations of a horseman on a rearing horse have emerged:

  1. in the earlier representation, a horseman wears armour with a sash across the chest, and, almost always, holds something, often a martial baton, sometimes a sword, a spear or another arm, in his right hand;
  2. in the later representation, a horseman is dressed à l’antique and also holds a baton or another object in his right hand.

According to Walter A. Liedtke, it is difficult to find the origins of this cliché; one likely candidate is the series of engravings “The First Twelve Roman Caesars” created by Antonio Tempesta and published by Giovanni Battista di Lazzaro Panzera da Parma in 1596. All of these caesars are sitting on horses, and six of these horses are rearing; five of these six Caesars (all except Nero) hold a baton.

Another possible candidate is the image of Marcus Curtius created by Hendrik Goltzius, a German-born Dutch printmaker, draftsman, and painter, in 1586, 10 years before Tempesta’s images were published. On this image, Marcus Curtius is bare-chested (dressed in a tunic in later versions) and he also holds a baton. He has also made an engraving depicting Giovanni de' Medici winning the jousting duel, dressed in an antique tunic and holding a piece of a broken spear, which is somewhat similar to baton.

It must be noted that the works of Antonio Tempesta and Hendrik Goltzius were printed by the same Dutch publisher, Claes Jansz. Visscher. This increases the probability of the existence of artistic exchange between them, direct or indirect, through the publisher. However, their two prints below were published by two different publishers.

There were some earlier drawings and prints that were using similar iconography, but, in my opinion, Hendrik Goltzius’s Marcus Curtius remains the best candidate for starting the trend because this engraving was so popular and wide-spread.

Perhaps it would be better to view the emergence of a new trend as a result of continuous progress, rather than the influence of one particular series.

Four studies for the uncompleted equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza,1490-1510, after Leonardo da Vinci
Four studies for the uncompleted equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza,
1490-1510, after Leonardo da Vinci
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Man on horseback holding a scroll or stick in his right hand, 1490-4, Albrecht Dürer, Germany
Man on horseback holding a scroll or stick in his right hand,
1490-4, Albrecht Dürer, Germany
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Floris V, Jan I, Jan II and Willem III, 1518, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Floris V, Jan I, Jan II and Willem III,
1518, Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Philip de Lalaing, Count of Hoogstraten, on Horseback, 1544-73, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
Philip de Lalaing, Count of Hoogstraten, on Horseback,
1544-73, Cornelis Anthonisz (manner of) and Hans Liefrinck (I), Antwerp, Netherlands
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Giovanni de Medici in a Duel, cr. 1578, Hendrick Goltzius, Netherlands
Giovanni de Medici in a Duel,
cr. 1578, Hendrick Goltzius, Netherlands
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Marcus Curtius, The Roman Heroes series, 1586, Hendrik Goltzius
Marcus Curtius, The Roman Heroes series,
1586, Hendrik Goltzius
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Emperor Julius Caesar on Horseback, plate 1, 1596, Antonio Tempesta
Emperor Julius Caesar on Horseback, plate 1,
1596, Antonio Tempesta
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Portrait of Roman emperor Otho, 1579-1637, Jan van der Straet, Italy and Frandres
Portrait of Roman emperor Otho,
1579-1637, Jan van der Straet, Italy and Frandres
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After these engravings were published, the iconography became very popular and more images have followed.

Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, on Horseback, cr. 1579-1637, Crispijn van de Passe, Netherlands
Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, on Horseback,
cr. 1579-1637, Crispijn van de Passe, Netherlands
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Equestrian portrait of Carlo Emmanuele, Duke of Savoy,Raphael Sadeler I, 1580-1600
Equestrian portrait of Carlo Emmanuele, Duke of Savoy,
Raphael Sadeler I, 1580-1600
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Equestrian portrait of Henri III,1585-1589, Robert Boissard
Equestrian portrait of Henri III,
1585-1589, Robert Boissard
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Henry IV by God's grace the king of France and Navarre aged 51 (1603),1585-1603, Robert Boissard, France
Henry IV by God's grace the king of France and Navarre aged 51 (1603),
1585-1603, Robert Boissard, France
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Portrait of Henri IV, King of France, 1589-1610, ?, after Hendrick Goltzius
Portrait of Henri IV, King of France,
1589-1610, ?, after Hendrick Goltzius
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Portrait of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange, cr. 1596-1637, Antonio Tempesta, Italy and Netherlands
Portrait of Maurice of Nassau, Prince of Orange,
cr. 1596-1637, Antonio Tempesta, Italy and Netherlands
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Rudolf II on horseback, 1603, Aegidius Sadeler, Marcus Sadeler and Adriaen de Vries, ?
Rudolf II on horseback,
1603, Aegidius Sadeler, Marcus Sadeler and Adriaen de Vries, ?
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Portrait of Elector Frederick IV, 1592-1622, Jacques Granthomme, France
Portrait of Elector Frederick IV,
1592-1622, Jacques Granthomme, France
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Second half of 16th century – first half of 18th century, Italian and Netherlandish Artists: Statuettes and Sculptures

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Benvenuto Cellini (1500 – 1571) and his pupil Willem Danielsz van Tetrode (1530 – 1587)

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Rearing Horse and Mounted Warrior statuette, 1516-9, Leonardo da Vinci, France
Rearing Horse and Mounted Warrior statuette,
1516-9, Leonardo da Vinci, France
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A Horseman, Cavalier: 3 century BC, Etruscan civilisation; Horse: 1548, Benvenuto Cellini, Italy
A Horseman,
Cavalier: 3 century BC, Etruscan civilisation; Horse: 1548, Benvenuto Cellini, Italy
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Warrior on Horseback, 1562-65, Willem Danielsz van Tetrode, Netherlands
Warrior on Horseback,
1562-65, Willem Danielsz van Tetrode, Netherlands
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Perhaps the first modern-era statuette showing a horseman on a rearing horse was created by Leonardo in 1516-9 in France. However, it is unclear whether it was well-known or influential for the next generations of artists.

The next, also very interesting bronze horseman has appeared in the middle of the 16th century. It was a restoration of a 3rd century BC Etruscan object: a horseman was discovered, but his horse was missing. So, in 1548 Benvenuto Cellini has created a horse to complete the statuette; you can see it below.

Later, Netherlandish artist Willem Danielsz van Tetrode, who was Cellini’s pupil in 1549-50 (according to other sources, in 1545-49), maybe earlier, has created his own bronze horseman on a rearing horse, also below.

Adriaen de Vries (1556 – 1626), trained by Willem Danielsz van Tetrode and Giambologna

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It has been suggested that Willem Danielsz van Tetrode may have trained young Netherlandish artist Adriaen de Vries and encouraged him to go to Florence. While in Florence, Adriaen de Vries was working in Giambologna‘s workshop. Later, thanks to the generous patronage of Rudolf II, Adriaen de Vries has created several rearing horses in different media, also below. The bronze figure of Henry Julius, Duke of Brunswick-Lüneburg on horseback, made by Adriaen de Vries in 1605, is the first bronze I am aware of that follows the iconography that will become so familiar: rearing horse (two support points), a horseman wearing armour and holding a baton in his right hand.

Rudolf II on horseback, 1603, Aegidius Sadeler, Marcus Sadeler and Adriaen de Vries, ?
Rudolf II on horseback,
1603, Aegidius Sadeler, Marcus Sadeler and Adriaen de Vries, ?
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Duke Heinrich Julius of Braunschweig on horseback, 1605, Adriaen de Vries, Prague
Duke Heinrich Julius of Braunschweig on horseback,
1605, Adriaen de Vries, Prague
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Rearing Horse, 1605-10, Adriaen de Vries, Netherlands
Rearing Horse,
1605-10, Adriaen de Vries, Netherlands
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Rudolf II introducing the Liberal Arts to Bohemia, 1609, Adriaen de Vries, Prague
Rudolf II introducing the Liberal Arts to Bohemia,
1609, Adriaen de Vries, Prague
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Pietro Tacca (1577 – 1640), trained by Giambologna

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Giambologna, born Jean Boulogne, the teacher of Adriaen de Vries, a leading Mannerist sculptor, have created rearing horses and equestrian sculptures, but not one horseman on a rearing horse. It was his best pupil, Pietro Tacca, who became the leading creator of small (less than 1 metre high) bronzes of the horsemen on rearing horses. The most interesting small-scale bronze is the oldest one. The horseman is Ferdinando II de' Medici, but the head is probably Peter the Great’s, added by Carlo Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the sculptor at Russian imperial court, and the father of Francesco Bartolomeo Rastrelli, the chief architect of Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg.

Grand duke Ferdinando II di Medici on Horseback, with the head of Peter the Great, 1615-21, Pietro Tacca, Florence
Grand duke Ferdinando II di Medici on Horseback, with the head of Peter the Great,
1615-21, Pietro Tacca, Florence
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Equestrian statuette of Louis XIII, 1619-21, Pietro Tacca
Equestrian statuette of Louis XIII,
1619-21, Pietro Tacca
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Spare horse for the equestrian statuette of Louis XIII, 1615-17, Pietro Tacca
Spare horse for the equestrian statuette of Louis XIII,
1615-17, Pietro Tacca
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Equestrian monument of Carlo Emmanuele, Duke of Savoy,1619-21, Pietro Tacca
Equestrian monument of Carlo Emmanuele, Duke of Savoy,
1619-21, Pietro Tacca
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Monument to Philip IV, Pietro Tacca, 1634-40, Madrid
Monument to Philip IV, Pietro Tacca,
1634-40, Madrid
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At the end of his life, Tacca has created a large-scale monument of a horseman on a rearing horse. According to a Wikipedia article, the statue of Philip IV was the first completed large-scale monument of a horseman on a rearing horse. The monument was dedicated in 1640.

Its design was done by Diego Velázquez; it is also said to have been based on the iconography of a lost painting by Peter Paul Rubens.

The daring stability of the statue was calculated by Galileo Galilei: the horse rears, and the entire weight of the sculpture balances on the two rear legs — and, discreetly, its tail — a feat that had never been attempted in a figure on a heroic scale, of which Leonardo had dreamed.

Two more large-scale equestrian sculptures, 1620 – 1684

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Statue of Victor Amadeus I, Duke of Savoy, 1620s and 1660s, Andrea Rivalta and Federico Vanelli
Statue of Victor Amadeus I, Duke of Savoy,
1620s and 1660s, Andrea Rivalta and Federico Vanelli
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Statue of King Carlos II of Spain and the two Sicilies, 1679-1680, Giacomo Serpotta
Statue of King Carlos II of Spain and the two Sicilies,
1679-1680, Giacomo Serpotta
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Carlos II on Horseback, erected 1684, destroyed in 1848, Andrea and Gaspare Romano (based on Giacomo Serpotta's model), Messina, Sicily
Carlos II on Horseback,
erected 1684, destroyed in 1848, Andrea and Gaspare Romano (based on Giacomo Serpotta's model), Messina, Sicily
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The second large-scale Italian monument was the statue of Vittorio Amedeo I. This statue has quite a history. According to this book, Charles Emmanuel I has commissioned an equestrian statue to honour the memory of his father, Emmanuel Philibert. Sculptor Andrea Rivalta from Rome was responsible for the marble part and Federico Vanelli from Lugano was responsible for the bronze part. The sculpture parts were completed but remained in storage in different locations in Turin. Later on Charles Emmanuel II ordered the construction of an equestrian statue to glorify his father, Vittorio Amedeo I, the son of Charles Emmanuel I. Someone has remembered about the unassembled sculpture, and, after the change of facial features, it was unveiled as the statue of Vittorio Amedeo I and is now on display in the Royal Palace of Turin.

The statue of Carlos II was the third such monument. It was dedicated in 1684 in Messina, Sicily, and remained there until a mob has destroyed it during the Sicilian revolution of 1848. Several smaller statuettes of Carlos II were created.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598 – 1680)

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Statue of King Louis XIV, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1665-84, Versailles
Statue of King Louis XIV, Gian Lorenzo Bernini,
1665-84, Versailles
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Equestrian sculpture of Charles II, 1680, Gian Lorenzo Bernini
Equestrian sculpture of Charles II,
1680, Gian Lorenzo Bernini
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Also in 1684, Gian Lorenzo Bernini has completed the statue of Louis XIV and delivered to Versailles; however, Louis XIV disliked it and has put it in a faraway corner of Versailles park so that few could see it.

In addition, Bernini has created a statuette of Carlos II using very similar iconography.

Giovanni Battista Foggini (1652 – 1725), who worked with Pietro Tacca’s son, and his pupil Giuseppe Piamontini (1664 – 1742)

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Carlos II on Horseback, 1698, G.B. Foggini, Prado, Madrid
Carlos II on Horseback,
1698, G.B. Foggini, Prado, Madrid
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Fernando of Tuscany on Horseback, 1695, Giuseppe Piamontini
Fernando of Tuscany on Horseback,
1695, Giuseppe Piamontini
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Prince Ferdinando di Cosimo III on Horseback, 1717, Giuseppe Piamontini, Florence
Prince Ferdinando di Cosimo III on Horseback,
1717, Giuseppe Piamontini, Florence
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Giovanni Battista Foggini worked with the son of Pietro Tacca, Fernando (as we remember, Pietro Tacca was Giambologna‘s first assistant). After Fernando Tacca’s death, Foggini acquired the foundry that had once belonged to Giambologna and had a very profitable business selling sculptures based on Giambologna‘s models.

Giuseppe Piamontini was Foggini’s pupil.

the origins of Baroque, 16th century

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Baroque Pearls

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Allegory of the Treasures of the Sea, ?, Circle of Jacopo Zucchi (cr. 1540-1596), Italy
Allegory of the Treasures of the Sea,
?, Circle of Jacopo Zucchi (cr. 1540-1596), Italy
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The term “baroque” comes from from the Portuguese “barroco”, which means “exquisite”, “extravagant”, “bizarre”. Originally, it was applied exclusively to pearls.

The story starts at 1498, when Christopher Columbus sailed along the eastern coast of Venezuela on his third (out of four) voyage. This expedition discovered the so-called “Pearl Islands” off the northeastern coast of Venezuela. Later Spanish expeditions returned to exploit these islands’ once abundant pearl oysters. Between 1508 and 1531, pearls were one of the most valuable resources of the Spanish Empire in the Americas. By 1531, both the local indigenous population and the pearl oysters had become devastated but, presumably, other pearl-rich areas were discovered. Europeans were viewing Americas as the land where pearls were as abundant and readily available as pebbles. The reality was somewhat different. In 1580, Michel de Montaigne wrote: “So many cities levelled with the ground, so many nations exterminated, so many millions of people fallen by the edge of the sword, and the richest and most beautiful part of the world turned upside down, for the traffic of pearl and pepper?”

Pendant with Saint George as a dragon slayer, late 16th century, Germany
Pendant with Saint George as a dragon slayer,
late 16th century, Germany
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Pendant with a cupid riding a horse, 1550-1600, Germany (?)
Pendant with a cupid riding a horse,
1550-1600, Germany (?)
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Pendant with a cupid riding a horse, late 16th century or 17th century, ?
Pendant with a cupid riding a horse,
late 16th century or 17th century, ?
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Irregular pearls were in high demand. In 1525 Charles V, Holy Roman Emperor, the King of Spain, who received some 34.5 million American pearls over the course of his reign, 2/3 of them from the Venezuelan fisheries, ordered his officials to pick out the baroque peals for him when they claimed the crown’s portion of the harvest.

Starting from the second half of the 16th century, irregular pearls would be integrated, together with gold, other jewels and enamel, into tiny and very precious figurines. Some of them would depict horsemen on rearing horses!

Baroque Style

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Council of Trent, 1588, Pasquale Cati, Santa Maria in Trastvere, Rome, Italy
Council of Trent,
1588, Pasquale Cati, Santa Maria in Trastvere, Rome, Italy
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Il Gesù, motherchurch of the Society of Jesus, consecrated in 1584, Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola and Giacomo della Porta, Rome, Italy
Il Gesù, motherchurch of the Society of Jesus,
consecrated in 1584, Giacomo Barozzi da Vignola and Giacomo della Porta, Rome, Italy
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The Baroque style of architecture was a result of doctrines adopted by the Catholic Church at the Council of Trent in 1545–63, in response to the Protestant Reformation. The first phase of the Counter-Reformation had imposed a severe, academic style on religious architecture, which had appealed to intellectuals but not the mass of churchgoers. The Council of Trent decided instead to appeal to a more popular audience, and declared that the arts should communicate religious themes with direct and emotional involvement.

It took some time until these doctrines have resulted in art objects. The first art form that have adopted baroque was architecture. The first building in Rome (and probably in the world) to have a Baroque facade was the Church of the Gesù in 1584. Later on, interior design, sculpture, painting and music have followed.

St George Fighting the Dragon, 1606-10, Peter Paul Rubens
St George Fighting the Dragon,
1606-10, Peter Paul Rubens
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Statue of King Louis XIV, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1665-84, Versailles
Statue of King Louis XIV, Gian Lorenzo Bernini,
1665-84, Versailles
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Baroque painting was the most important and major painting during the period beginning around 1600 and continuing into the early 18th century is identified today as Baroque painting. In its most typical manifestations, Baroque art is characterised by great drama, rich, deep colour, and intense light and dark shadows. Unlike Renaissance art, which usually showed the moment before an event took place, Baroque artists chose the most dramatic point, the moment when the action was occurring. Like Renaissance art, and unlike Mannerism, it was putting the man (and the horseman!) in the centre of the picture and the universe, restoring the feeling of predictability in spite of the external drama.

Baroque sculpture was equally characterised by a dynamic movement and energy of human forms that often looked like they were frozen in the middle of action.

European wars of religion and The Peace of Westphalia, 1522 – 1648

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European wars of religion, 1522 – 1648

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The capturing of Francis I at the Battle of Pavia, 1525, from the series 'The victories of Emperor Charles V', 1555-56, Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert and Maarten van Heemskerck, Haarlem and Antwerp, Netherlands
The capturing of Francis I at the Battle of Pavia, 1525, from the series 'The victories of Emperor Charles V',
1555-56, Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert and Maarten van Heemskerck, Haarlem and Antwerp, Netherlands
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Relief of Vienna, 1529, from the series 'The victories of Emperor Charles V', 1555-56, Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert and Maarten van Heemskerck, Haarlem and Antwerp, Netherlands
Relief of Vienna, 1529, from the series 'The victories of Emperor Charles V',
1555-56, Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert and Maarten van Heemskerck, Haarlem and Antwerp, Netherlands
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Capture of Tunis, 1535, from the series 'The victories of Emperor Charles V', 1555-56, Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert and Maarten van Heemskerck, Haarlem and Antwerp, Netherlands
Capture of Tunis, 1535, from the series 'The victories of Emperor Charles V',
1555-56, Dirck Volckertszoon Coornhert and Maarten van Heemskerck, Haarlem and Antwerp, Netherlands
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Equestrian Portrait of Charles V at the battle of Mühlberg, 1548, Titian, Augsburg, Germany
Equestrian Portrait of Charles V at the battle of Mühlberg,
1548, Titian, Augsburg, Germany
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Assault on a Convoy, cr. 1612, Jan Brueghel the Elder and Sebastiaen Vrancx, Flemish
Assault on a Convoy,
cr. 1612, Jan Brueghel the Elder and Sebastiaen Vrancx, Flemish
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Battle of White Mountain, 1620, Peter Snayers, Flemish
Battle of White Mountain,
1620, Peter Snayers, Flemish
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The Battle of Nördlingen, 1634-5, Jan van den Hoecke, Flemish
The Battle of Nördlingen,
1634-5, Jan van den Hoecke, Flemish
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Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden at the battle of Breitenfeld,1632, Johann Walter
Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden at the battle of Breitenfeld,
1632, Johann Walter
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The Peace of Westphalia, 1648

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Ratification of the Treaty of Münster, 15 May 1648, 1648, Gerard ter Borch, Dutch Republic
Ratification of the Treaty of Münster, 15 May 1648,
1648, Gerard ter Borch, Dutch Republic
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Battle of Lens (1648), cr. 1835, Pierre Franque, Galerie des Batailles, Versailles, France
Battle of Lens (1648),
cr. 1835, Pierre Franque, Galerie des Batailles, Versailles, France
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Peace negotiations that have resulted in the Peace of Westphalia have started in 1641 and were concluded by the signature of the treaty in 15 May – 24 October 1648. The treaty was putting an end to both the Thirty Years' War (started in 1618, was taking place in central Europe) and Eighty Years' War (started in 1568, was taking place in the Netherlands).

The negotiation process was lengthy and complex. Talks took place in two different cities because each side wanted to meet on territory under its own control. In total, there were 109 delegations: 16 European states have each sent a delegation, 66 Imperial States Delegations were representing the interests of 140 Imperial States, and there were 27 interest groups representing 38 groups.

The battles were continuing right until the end of the treaty signing. The last major battle of the war, the Battle of Lens (the French army won against the Spanish army), took place on 20 August 1648, halfway through the signing.

The Peace of Westphalia established the precedent of peace established by diplomatic congress. A new system of political order arose in central Europe, based upon peaceful coexistence among sovereign nation-states. Inter-state aggression was to be held in check by a balance of power, and a norm was established against interference in another state’s domestic affairs. As European influence spread across the globe, these Westphalian principles, especially the concept of sovereign states, became central to international law and the prevailing world order.

The treaty was widely celebrated, especially in the Dutch Republic that was finally recognised as an independent state by Spain.

Banquet at the Crossbowmen's Guild in Celebration of the Treaty of Munster, 1648, Bartholomeus van der Helst, Dutch Republic
Banquet at the Crossbowmen's Guild in Celebration of the Treaty of Munster,
1648, Bartholomeus van der Helst, Dutch Republic
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Detail showing a drinking horn decorated with a horseman on a rearing horse, Banquet at the Crossbowmen's Guild in Celebration of the Treaty of Munster, 1648, Bartholomeus van der Helst, Dutch Republic
Detail showing a drinking horn decorated with a horseman on a rearing horse, Banquet at the Crossbowmen's Guild in Celebration of the Treaty of Munster,
1648, Bartholomeus van der Helst, Dutch Republic
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Silver drinking horn of the St. George or Crossbow Civic Guards, 1566, Frederik Jans, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Silver drinking horn of the St. George or Crossbow Civic Guards,
1566, Frederik Jans, Amsterdam, Netherlands
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Marketplace in Harlem during the celebration of the Treaty of Münster, 1670-90, Cornelis Beelt, Dutch Republic
Marketplace in Harlem during the celebration of the Treaty of Münster,
1670-90, Cornelis Beelt, Dutch Republic
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Map of Europe by the end of 1648, 1884, 'An Historical Atlas' by Robert H. Labberton
Map of Europe by the end of 1648,
1884, 'An Historical Atlas' by Robert H. Labberton
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