Horsemen on Rearing Horses Part 3: Indo-European Nation-States In Circa 17th-19th Centuries

Table Of Contents


By the end of European wars of religion, concluded in 1648 with the Peace of Westphalia, European states have developed a much stronger sense of national identity. At the same time, the Persian empire has shrunk to the size comparable with the modern borders of Iran. Thus, we need to look at horsemen created at that time on a state-by-state basis.

Islamic Miniature, 14th – 18th centuries

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Persian Manuscript Illustrations, 14th – 18th centuries

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While the printing was becoming widespread in Europe, in Persia (present-time Iran) the books and their illustrations were still made by hand. Their iconography, however, is very comparable to some paintings that will be created in Europe in the 16th century.

A Persian miniature is a small Persian painting on paper, whether a book illustration or a separate work of art intended to be kept in an album of such works called a muraqqa. Persian manuscripts were illustrated from the 3rd century AD, but the greatest period of the Persian miniature began when Persia was ruled by Mongols. The Mongol invasion of 1219 onwards has resulted in Persia becoming a branch of the Mongol Empire. The new court had a galvanising effect on book painting, importing many Chinese works and probably artists, with their long-established tradition of narrative painting.

COMPARANDUM: Grave stelae with a hunting scene, Han dynasty, cr. 206 BC-220 AD, China
COMPARANDUM: Grave stelae with a hunting scene, Han dynasty,
cr. 206 BC-220 AD, China
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COMPARANDUM: Landscape scene from a bronze fitting of a chariot canopy, cr. 2nd – 1st century BC, Dingxian, Hebei province, China
COMPARANDUM: Landscape scene from a bronze fitting of a chariot canopy,
cr. 2nd – 1st century BC, Dingxian, Hebei province, China
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COMPARANDUM: Polo player, detail of a mural from the tomb of Li Xian (the crown prince Zhanghuai), 706, near Xianyang, Shaanxi province, China
COMPARANDUM: Polo player, detail of a mural from the tomb of Li Xian (the crown prince Zhanghuai),
706, near Xianyang, Shaanxi province, China
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COMPARANDUM: Emperor Minghuang’s Journey to Shu, early 8th century, Tang Empire (modern China)
COMPARANDUM: Emperor Minghuang’s Journey to Shu,
early 8th century, Tang Empire (modern China)
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Ismail declares himself shah by entering Tabriz, 2005 or earlier, Chingiz Mehbaliyev, Azerbaijan
Ismail declares himself shah by entering Tabriz,
2005 or earlier, Chingiz Mehbaliyev, Azerbaijan
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The beginning of the 16th century in Persia was marked by the installation of Safavid dynasty (1501–1736), the end of Mongolian oppression and the return of the national sense of pride. This included Shahnameh, ‘The Book of Kings’, a long epic poem composed by Ferdowsi between cr. 977 and 1010. It tells mainly the mythical and to some extent the historical past of the Persian Empire from the creation of the world until the Arab conquest of Iran in the 7th century. This work is of central importance in Persian culture and Persian language, regarded as a literary masterpiece, and definitive of the ethnonational cultural identity of Iran.

Persian art under Islam had never completely forbidden the human figure, and in the miniature tradition the depiction of figures, often in large numbers, is central. This was partly because the miniature is a private form, kept in a book or album and only shown to those the owner chooses. Animals, especially the horses that very often appear, are mostly shown sideways on; even the love-stories that constitute much of the classic material illustrated are conducted largely in the saddle, as far as the prince-protagonist is concerned. Naturally, many of the depictions of the horsemen on rearing horses produced within the Persian culture at that time were the illustrations of Shahnameh.

Isfandiyar fights with the Wolves, illustration to Shahnameh, cr. 1370, Tabriz, Persia
Isfandiyar fights with the Wolves, illustration to Shahnameh,
cr. 1370, Tabriz, Persia
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Battle between Chinese and Mongolian armies (1211), illustration of Jami' al-tawarikh, 1430, Sayf al-Vâhidî, Herat, Persia
Battle between Chinese and Mongolian armies (1211), illustration of Jami' al-tawarikh,
1430, Sayf al-Vâhidî, Herat, Persia
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Rustam Seizes Afrasiyab by the Girdle and Lifts him from the Saddle, illustration of the Book of Kings by Ferdawsi, cr. 1430–40, India (?)
Rustam Seizes Afrasiyab by the Girdle and Lifts him from the Saddle, illustration of the Book of Kings by Ferdawsi,
cr. 1430–40, India (?)
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Faramarz leads Borzu captive, illustration of Borzunameh, cr. 1500, Fars, Persia
Faramarz leads Borzu captive, illustration of Borzunameh,
cr. 1500, Fars, Persia
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Siyavush Plays Polo before Afrasiyab, illustration of the Book of Kings by Ferdawsi, cr. 1525–30, Shiraz, Persia
Siyavush Plays Polo before Afrasiyab, illustration of the Book of Kings by Ferdawsi,
cr. 1525–30, Shiraz, Persia
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Hunting scene, illustration of the collection of poems of Ali-Shir Navai, cr. 1525-50, Shiraz, Persia
Hunting scene, illustration of the collection of poems of Ali-Shir Navai,
cr. 1525-50, Shiraz, Persia
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Sukhra's Victory over the Hephthalites in 486-8 (detail), illustration of Shahnameh, cr. 1530–35, Abu'l Qasim Firdausi, Tabriz, Persia
Sukhra's Victory over the Hephthalites in 486-8 (detail), illustration of Shahnameh,
cr. 1530–35, Abu'l Qasim Firdausi, Tabriz, Persia
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A manuscript page showing a hunter on horseback, cr. 1540, Muzaffar 'Ali, Tabriz, Persia (now Iran)
A manuscript page showing a hunter on horseback,
cr. 1540, Muzaffar 'Ali, Tabriz, Persia (now Iran)
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Battle Between Iranians and Turanians, illustration of the Book of Kings by Ferdawsi, cr. 1562–83, Shiraz, Persia
Battle Between Iranians and Turanians, illustration of the Book of Kings by Ferdawsi,
cr. 1562–83, Shiraz, Persia
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Battle between Manuchehre and Turanians, illustration of the Book of Kings by Ferdawsi, cr. 1567, Shiraz, Persia
Battle between Manuchehre and Turanians, illustration of the Book of Kings by Ferdawsi,
cr. 1567, Shiraz, Persia
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Book cover showing courtly hunting scene, cr. 1560-88, Khorasan, Persia
Book cover showing courtly hunting scene,
cr. 1560-88, Khorasan, Persia
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Khosrow and Shirin hunting lions, illustration of Khamsa of Nizami, cr. 1580, Persia
Khosrow and Shirin hunting lions, illustration of Khamsa of Nizami,
cr. 1580, Persia
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Giv Charges into Battle against Piran, illustration of the Book of Kings by Ferdawsi, cr. 1589–90, Shiraz, Persia
Giv Charges into Battle against Piran, illustration of the Book of Kings by Ferdawsi,
cr. 1589–90, Shiraz, Persia
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Manuscript Illustrations Of Mughal Empire, 16th – 18th centuries

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Mughal painting is a particular style of South Asian, particularly Indian, painting confined to miniatures either as book illustrations or as single works to be kept in albums (muraqqa). It emerged from Persian miniature painting and developed in the court of the Mughal Empire (1526 – 1857) of the 16th to 18th centuries. The Mughal emperors were Muslims and they are credited with consolidating Islam in South Asia, and spreading Muslim (and particularly Persian) arts and culture as well as the faith.

Mughal painting was taking a much greater interest in realistic portraiture than typical Persian miniatures.

Akbar Hunting, illustration of History of Akbar by Abul-Fazl ibn Mubarak, late 16th century, Lahore, Mughal Empire
Akbar Hunting, illustration of History of Akbar by Abul-Fazl ibn Mubarak,
late 16th century, Lahore, Mughal Empire
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Krishna and Balarma Fighting the Enemy, illustration of Harivamsa, cr. 1590–95, Lahore, Mughal Empire
Krishna and Balarma Fighting the Enemy, illustration of Harivamsa,
cr. 1590–95, Lahore, Mughal Empire
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The victory of Khan Zaman (Ali Quli Khan) over the Afghans on the banks of the river Jumna in 1561, illustration of Akbarnama (Book of Akbar), cr. 1590-95, Kanha and Khiman Sangtarash, Mughal Empire
The victory of Khan Zaman (Ali Quli Khan) over the Afghans on the banks of the river Jumna in 1561, illustration of Akbarnama (Book of Akbar),
cr. 1590-95, Kanha and Khiman Sangtarash, Mughal Empire
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The Battle of Shahbarghan, illustration of Padshahnama by Abdul Hamid Lahori, 1646-1700, Mughal Empire
The Battle of Shahbarghan, illustration of Padshahnama by Abdul Hamid Lahori,
1646-1700, Mughal Empire
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A Prince and princess on horseback, 18th century, Mughal Empire
A Prince and princess on horseback,
18th century, Mughal Empire
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Hunting Scene: Prince and Princess on Horseback, 18th century, Mughal Empire
Hunting Scene: Prince and Princess on Horseback,
18th century, Mughal Empire
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Princess Playing Polo, 18th century, Dana, Jodhpur, Mughal Empire
Princess Playing Polo,
18th century, Dana, Jodhpur, Mughal Empire
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Mughal noble on horseback, cr. 1790, Mughal Empire
Mughal noble on horseback,
cr. 1790, Mughal Empire
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Manuscript Illustrations Of Ottoman Empire, 16th century

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The Ottoman Empire (1299 – 1923) controlled much of Southeast Europe, Western Asia and North Africa between the 14th and early 20th centuries. The Ottomans ended the Byzantine Empire with the 1453 conquest of Constantinople. Its defeat in World War I resulted in its partitioning and the loss of its Middle Eastern territories, which were divided between the United Kingdom and France. The successful Turkish War of Independence led by Mustafa Kemal Atatürk against the occupying Allies led to the emergence of the Republic of Turkey in the Anatolian heartland of the Ottoman monarchy.

Ottoman miniature was a Turkish art form in the Ottoman Empire, which can be linked to the Persian miniature tradition, as well as strong Chinese artistic influences. The golden age of the Ottoman miniature was the second half of the 16th century, this is when we see quite a few illustrations featuring the rearing horsemen. The later artists were preferring calmer, more static subjects.

Battle_at_Lipova, 1551, second half of the 16th century, Ottoman Empire
Battle_at_Lipova, 1551,
second half of the 16th century, Ottoman Empire
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Duel before the Battle of Mohács, 16th century, Ottoman Empire
Duel before the Battle of Mohács,
16th century, Ottoman Empire
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Battle of Mohács, 16th century, Ottoman Empire
Battle of Mohács,
16th century, Ottoman Empire
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Parade of two riding Gazi (veterans from Rumelia) in front of Sultan Murat III, 16th century, Nakkaş Osman and/or other painters of the Nakkaşhane, Ottoman Empire
Parade of two riding Gazi (veterans from Rumelia) in front of Sultan Murat III,
16th century, Nakkaş Osman and/or other painters of the Nakkaşhane, Ottoman Empire
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The House of Savoy, 17 to 19 century

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The Duchy of Savoy has disappeared from the European map, but it used to be one of the greatest European powers. The House of Savoy is one of the oldest royal families in the world (it was founded in 1003). Initially, it was a small county in Savoy (a region between Italy and France). It gradually expanded through annexation of the neighbouring territories, and in 1416 it became a duchy. For 7 years, from 1713 to 1720, it included Sicily. In 1720 the Duke of Savoy was forced to exchange his throne in Sicily for that of the less important Kingdom of Sardinia. Ironically, it was Sardinia that would later unify Italy in the nineteenth century, and the junior branch of the house of Savoy was ruling the Kingdom of Italy since from creation in 1861 till 1946 when Italy became a republic.

Depictions of Dukes and A Duchess of Savoy on rearing horses

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Several Savoy rulers have been portrayed on rearing horses…

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 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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Equestrian portrait of Prince Tomaso of Savoy-Carignan, son of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy, 1634-5, Anthony van Dyck
Equestrian portrait of Prince Tomaso of Savoy-Carignan, son of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy,
1634-5, Anthony van Dyck
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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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Equestian portrait of Marie Jeanne Baptiste of Savoy-Nemours, Duchess of Savoy, 1660-75, Giovanni Luigi Buffi, Duchy of Savoy
Equestian portrait of Marie Jeanne Baptiste of Savoy-Nemours, Duchess of Savoy,
1660-75, Giovanni Luigi Buffi, Duchy of Savoy
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Equestrian portrait of Carlo Emmanuele II of Savoy with his son and heir Vittorio Amedeo, Prince of Piedmont,1673, Giovanni Battista Brambilla
Equestrian portrait of Carlo Emmanuele II of Savoy with his son and heir Vittorio Amedeo, Prince of Piedmont,
1673, Giovanni Battista Brambilla
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Equestrian portrait of Charles Emmanuel III, Duke of Savoy and King of Sardinia,1720-61, Maria Giovanna Clementi, Turin, Italy
Equestrian portrait of Charles Emmanuel III, Duke of Savoy and King of Sardinia,
1720-61, Maria Giovanna Clementi, Turin, Italy
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Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663 – 1736)

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The most portrayed member of Savoy house was not a ruler. Prince Eugene of Savoy was born in Paris. The great-grandson of Charles Emmanuel I grew up around the French court of King Louis XIV. Because of a scandal involving his mother, he was rejected for service in the French army. Eugene moved to Austria and transferred his loyalty to the Habsburg Monarchy, and became a general of the Imperial Army and statesman of the Holy Roman Empire and the Archduchy of Austria and one of the most successful military commanders in modern European history.

Equestrian portrait of Prince Eugene of Savoy,early 18th century, Jacob van Schuppen
Equestrian portrait of Prince Eugene of Savoy,
early 18th century, Jacob van Schuppen
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Eugene of Savoy during the Battle of Belgrade (1717),cr. 1720, Johann Gottfried Auerbach
Eugene of Savoy during the Battle of Belgrade (1717),
cr. 1720, Johann Gottfried Auerbach
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Portrait of Prince Eugene of Savoy,cr. 1725, unknown painter (Johann Gottfried Auerbach?)
Portrait of Prince Eugene of Savoy,
cr. 1725, unknown painter (Johann Gottfried Auerbach?)
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Spain and its colonies: Royalty And Saint James, 15th-21st Centuries

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Spanish Painters, 17th-19th Centuries

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Diego Velázquez (1599 – 1660)

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The most significant and famous equestrian Spanish portraits were made by Diego Velázquez. He seems to have adopted the iconography developed by Peter Paul Rubens.

Philip IV on Horseback, 1631-6, Diego Velázquez
Philip IV on Horseback,
1631-6, Diego Velázquez
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Equestrian Portrait of Prince Balthasar Charles, 1634-5, Diego Velázquez
Equestrian Portrait of Prince Balthasar Charles,
1634-5, Diego Velázquez
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Equestrian Portrait Of The Count-Duke Of Olivares, 1634, Diego Velázquez
Equestrian Portrait Of The Count-Duke Of Olivares,
1634, Diego Velázquez
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Philip III on Horseback, 1634-5, Diego Velázquez
Philip III on Horseback,
1634-5, Diego Velázquez
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Prince Baltasar Carlos with the Count-Duke of Olivares outside the Buen Retiro palace, 1636, Diego Velázquez
Prince Baltasar Carlos with the Count-Duke of Olivares outside the Buen Retiro palace,
1636, Diego Velázquez
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Francisco Goya (1746 – 1828)

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The Count-Duke Of Olivares, engraving based on Velázquez's portrait,1792, Francisco Goya
The Count-Duke Of Olivares, engraving based on Velázquez's portrait,
1792, Francisco Goya
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The other very famous Spanish painter who has created a number of interesting portraits of horsemen on the rearing horses is Francisco Goya. Goya was familiar with Diego Velázquez’s equestrian portraits, and have even made several engravings based on these paintings. However, his paintings are strikingly different. Whereas the sitters seem to be pleasant, there is no sense of confidence, no more scintillating colours; the palette is muted, the composition is quite simple, but there is some sense of psychological ambiguity; the sitters, despite all their victories and other achievements, appear as simple mortals.

These portraits are very different from joyful and luminous (the reproduction does not do this painting justice) “Hunting Party” executed by Goya earlier in his career.

Sketch for the equestrian portrait of Manuel Godoy, Duke of Alcudia, 1794, Francisco Goya
Sketch for the equestrian portrait of Manuel Godoy, Duke of Alcudia,
1794, Francisco Goya
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Equestrian Portrait of Fernando VII of Spain, 1808, Francisco Goya
Equestrian Portrait of Fernando VII of Spain,
1808, Francisco Goya
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Equestrian Portrait of the 1st Duke of Wellington, 1810s, Francisco Goya
Equestrian Portrait of the 1st Duke of Wellington,
1810s, Francisco Goya
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General José de Palafox on Horseback, 1814, Francisco Goya
General José de Palafox on Horseback,
1814, Francisco Goya
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Saint James the Moor-slayer, a.k.a. Santiago Matamoros, 15th-21st centuries

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Who is Saint James, a.k.a. Santiago?

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James the Great was one of the Twelve Apostles of Jesus, and is the patron saint of Spaniards. According to legend, his remains are held in Santiago de Compostela in Galicia. (The name Santiago is the local evolution of Vulgar Latin Sanctu Iacobu, “Saint James”, with San Diego also being a derivative of Santiago.)

Saint James the Moor-slayer (Spanish: Santiago Matamoros) is the name given to the representation (painting, sculpture, etc.) of the apostle James as a legendary, miraculous figure who appeared at the also legendary Battle of Clavijo, helping the Christians conquer the Muslim Moors. The Battle of Clavijo is a mythical battle that, apparently, never took place, but was a subject of many legends. Aspects of the historical Battle of Monte Laturce (859) were incorporated into this legend.

Unlike the courtly paintings, we have seen before, the paintings that resulted from the cult of Saint James were sincere and appealing to all layers of the society. The quality of these works vary a lot, they are often anonymous. Their quantity is quite astonishing: what you see below is only a small part of a very large body of works devoted to Saint James the Moor-slayer.

Santiago Matamoros in Spain, 15th – 20th centuries

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Santiago Matamoros In Paintings
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Even though there were paintings of Santiago Matamoros before the 17th century and outside Spain, it was in Spain and in the 17th century that this saint became an object of cult.

COMPARANDUM: The Battle of Clavijo (mythical, 844), autumn 1471 - spring 1473, Martin Shongauer, Alsace, Germany
COMPARANDUM: The Battle of Clavijo (mythical, 844),
autumn 1471 - spring 1473, Martin Shongauer, Alsace, Germany
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Altarpiece with St. James in the central panel, 15th century, Segovia, Spain
Altarpiece with St. James in the central panel,
15th century, Segovia, Spain
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Santiago Matamoros, 15th century, Santa María de Labrada, Guitiriz, Lugo, Spain
Santiago Matamoros,
15th century, Santa María de Labrada, Guitiriz, Lugo, Spain
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Apostle Santiago in the battle of Clavijo, end of the 16th century, Mateo Pérez de Alesio, Church of Saint James, Seville, Spain
Apostle Santiago in the battle of Clavijo,
end of the 16th century, Mateo Pérez de Alesio, Church of Saint James, Seville, Spain
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Apostle Santiago in the battle of Clavijo, 1609, Juan de las Roelas, Cathedral of Seville, Spain
Apostle Santiago in the battle of Clavijo,
1609, Juan de las Roelas, Cathedral of Seville, Spain
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The Apostle Santiago on horseback, or Santiago Matamoros, 1649, Francisco Camilo, Spain
The Apostle Santiago on horseback, or Santiago Matamoros,
1649, Francisco Camilo, Spain
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Apostle Santiago fighting the moors, 1690, Lucas de Valdés, Córdoba, Spain
Apostle Santiago fighting the moors,
1690, Lucas de Valdés, Córdoba, Spain
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Apostle Santiago in the battle of Clavijo, cr. 1753-62, Ginés Andrés de Aguirre, after Corrado Giaquinto, Spain
Apostle Santiago in the battle of Clavijo,
cr. 1753-62, Ginés Andrés de Aguirre, after Corrado Giaquinto, Spain
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Apparition of Apostle Santiago in the battle of Clavijo, 18th century, Antonio González Ruiz, Cuenca, Spain
Apparition of Apostle Santiago in the battle of Clavijo,
18th century, Antonio González Ruiz, Cuenca, Spain
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Santiago Matamoros In Sculptures And Reliefs
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There are many statues of Santiago Matamoros in Spanish churches, especially in Castile and León‎ and Galicia. The most famous one is located in Santiago de Compostela Cathedral in Galicia; this cathedral is the reputed Santiago’s burial place.

Santiago Matamoros, 16th century, Church of Santa María la Real, Sasamón, Burgos, Castile and León, Spain
Santiago Matamoros,
16th century, Church of Santa María la Real, Sasamón, Burgos, Castile and León, Spain
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Santiago Matamoros, second half of 17th century, Juan de Ávila (1652-1702), church of Santiago Apóstol, Valladolid, Spain
Santiago Matamoros,
second half of 17th century, Juan de Ávila (1652-1702), church of Santiago Apóstol, Valladolid, Spain
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Santiago Matamoros, 18th century, Altarpiece of Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Spain
Santiago Matamoros,
18th century, Altarpiece of Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, Spain
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Santiago Matamoros, ?, Altarpiece of the Chapel of St. John the Baptist and St. James, Cathedral of Burgos, Spain
Santiago Matamoros,
?, Altarpiece of the Chapel of St. John the Baptist and St. James, Cathedral of Burgos, Spain
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Santiago Matamoros, ?, Losar de la Vera, Cáceres, Spain
Santiago Matamoros,
?, Losar de la Vera, Cáceres, Spain
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Santiago Matamoros, ?, Iglesia Arzobispal Castrense, Madrid, Spain
Santiago Matamoros,
?, Iglesia Arzobispal Castrense, Madrid, Spain
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Santiago Matamoros, ?, Calahorra, La Rioja, Spain
Santiago Matamoros,
?, Calahorra, La Rioja, Spain
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Santiago Matamoros, ?, Capela da Misericordia, Baiona, Spain
Santiago Matamoros,
?, Capela da Misericordia, Baiona, Spain
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Santiago Matamoros, ?, Mezquita Cathedral, Cordoba, Spain
Santiago Matamoros,
?, Mezquita Cathedral, Cordoba, Spain
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In addition, several sculptures and relieves of Santiago Matamoros adorn facades of public buildings in Spain.

Santiago Matamoros, ?, Hospital de Sant Jaume i Santa Magdalena, Mataró, Barcelona, Spain
Santiago Matamoros,
?, Hospital de Sant Jaume i Santa Magdalena, Mataró, Barcelona, Spain
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Santiago Matamoros, ?, Convento de las Comendadoras de Santiago, Madrid, Spain
Santiago Matamoros,
?, Convento de las Comendadoras de Santiago, Madrid, Spain
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Santiago Matamoros, ?, Colegio Mayor de Santiago el Zebedeo, Salamanca, Castilla y León, Spain
Santiago Matamoros,
?, Colegio Mayor de Santiago el Zebedeo, Salamanca, Castilla y León, Spain
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Santiago Matamoros, ?, Hospital del Rey-Universidad, Burgos, Castilla y León, Spain
Santiago Matamoros,
?, Hospital del Rey-Universidad, Burgos, Castilla y León, Spain
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Santiago in Americas: Matamoros, Mataindios and Mataespañoles, 17th – 21st centuries

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Santiago in Americas
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Santiago was “exported” to the other side of Atlantic ocean during the Spanish colonization of the Americas (1492-1832). He was an extremely popular figure there, almost always represented on a rearing horse, slaying the enemies. As we will see, there were three “incarnations” of Santiago in Americas: Matamoros, Mataindios and Mataespañoles.

Cuzco School
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Many works in this section were done by the artists belonging to Cusco School (sometimes spelt as “Cuzco School”). This was a Roman Catholic artistic tradition based in Cusco, Peru (the former capital of the Inca Empire) during the Colonial period, in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. It was not limited to Cusco only, but spread to other cities in the Andes, as well as to present-day Ecuador and Bolivia. Specific characteristics of Cuzco school are: the neglect of the perspective, the fragmentation of the space in several concurrent scenes, the preference for intense colours typical of the aesthetics of those countries, the presence of Andean flora and fauna, and the introduction of characters dressed in the manner indigenous, such as caciques and Inca warriors. This school originated from the work of several Indian and mestizo painters, who transmitted their particular vision of the world through a simple technique, sometimes rough and naive, that adapted the western plastic language. Like Ionian Greek artists when Ionia was invaded by Persians, Peruvian artists were creating the art objects that were glorifying their invadors, but retained some key stylistic features of their native culture.

Santiago Matamoros
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Patron Saint victorious over the moors, 17th century, Peru
Patron Saint victorious over the moors,
17th century, Peru
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St. James panel from reredos in Cristo Rey Church, cr. 1760, Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.A.
St. James panel from reredos in Cristo Rey Church,
cr. 1760, Santa Fe, New Mexico, U.S.A.
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Santiago Matamoros, second half of 18th century, Venezuela
Santiago Matamoros,
second half of 18th century, Venezuela
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Santiago Matamoros with the Christ of the three spears, 18th century, Peru
Santiago Matamoros with the Christ of the three spears,
18th century, Peru
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Portrait of Philip V as Saint James, 18th century, Bolivia
Portrait of Philip V as Saint James,
18th century, Bolivia
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Santiago Matamoros, 18th century, colonial school
Santiago Matamoros,
18th century, colonial school
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Santiago Matamoros, 18th century, colonial school
Santiago Matamoros,
18th century, colonial school
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Santiago Matamoros, 18th century, colonial school
Santiago Matamoros,
18th century, colonial school
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Santiago Matamoros and pastoral life scene, early 19th century, Peru
Santiago Matamoros and pastoral life scene,
early 19th century, Peru
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Wood relief of Saint James, colonial era, Mexico
Wood relief of Saint James,
colonial era, Mexico
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Santiago Matamoros (polychrome alabaster), 20th century, Peru
Santiago Matamoros (polychrome alabaster),
20th century, Peru
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Santiago Matamoros (alabaster), 20th century, Peru
Santiago Matamoros (alabaster),
20th century, Peru
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Santiago Matamoros (alabaster), 20th century, Peru
Santiago Matamoros (alabaster),
20th century, Peru
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Sculpture of Saint James, 1996, Abraham Gonzalez, Mexico
Sculpture of Saint James,
1996, Abraham Gonzalez, Mexico
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Saint James the Apostle Church, contemporaty, Atlacomulco, Mexico
Saint James the Apostle Church,
contemporaty, Atlacomulco, Mexico
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Santiago Mataindios (The Slayer Of Indians)
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Santiago Mataindios, 1610, Miguel Mauricio, Temple of Tlatelolco, Mexico
Santiago Mataindios,
1610, Miguel Mauricio, Temple of Tlatelolco, Mexico
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Martín de Mujica, Chile's spaniard governator, represented as Santiago, (1646-1649), 1646, Alonso de Ovalle, Chile
Martín de Mujica, Chile's spaniard governator, represented as Santiago, (1646-1649),
1646, Alonso de Ovalle, Chile
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Allegory Of Santiago In The History Of Chile (1646-1649), ?, Alonso de Ovalle, Chile
Allegory Of Santiago In The History Of Chile (1646-1649),
?, Alonso de Ovalle, Chile
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Santiago Mataindios, 1690-1720, Cuzco School, Peru
Santiago Mataindios,
1690-1720, Cuzco School, Peru
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Oftentimes, the enemies Santiago was slaying were not moors, but native Americans. In fact, he was seen as the protector of Spaniards from the indigenous peoples of the Americas, and, occasionally, he was depicted as a conquistador. His divinity was seen as a rival force to the indigenous gods. The appearances of the holy warrior (14 such appearances were documented) helping the Spanish troops defeat the pagan enemies and legitimize, politically and religiously, the conquest of America as a crusade. This earned the Saint other titles: Santiago Mataindios and Santiago Mataincas.

There were a few indigenous peoples who saw in the Spanish some ideal allies to fight against other indigenous peoples who were their traditional enemies and had them subdued. Thus, some native Americans have voluntarily adopted the cult of Santiago Mataindios.

Santiago mataespañoles The Protector Of Indians
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Santiago the Spaniard-Slayer, mid 19th century or 17th century, Cuzco, Peru
Santiago the Spaniard-Slayer,
mid 19th century or 17th century, Cuzco, Peru
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Demonstration calling to increase the budget of the culture sector, October 2017, Lima, Peru
Demonstration calling to increase the budget of the culture sector,
October 2017, Lima, Peru
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Paradoxically, this process of assimilation reached the extreme of causing a total investment of the initial roles, giving rise to a singular syncretism: the mythification of Santiago by the Indians. Due to the influence of the missionaries and their own imagery related to indigenous survival, the Apostle became part of his own culture and religiosity. Santiago was valued as a protective figure of the Indians and Creoles victims of ambition and extreme fanaticism of the colonizers. And so the image of Santiago Mataespañoles emerged in the nineteenth century in the context of the independence of the new Spanish-American republics. It was suggested that syncretic connection between Santiago and the Andean god Yllapa (was a very popular weather god) motivated this odd veneration.

An example of this very rare iconography is found in this small silver sculpture, also originally from Cuzco, which is preserved in the Pilgrimage Museum of Santiago de Compostela. It is dated in the second third of the nineteenth century and shows the Saint the Peruvians protecting against Spanish colonizers. Recently, Peruvian artists have used Santiago’s iconography during the demonstration calling to increase the budget of the culture sector, presumably as the protector of Peruvian liberal arts!

Flemish Artists, 17th century: Flamboyant Baroque

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What is “Flemish”?

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The Spanish Netherlands was the collective name of States of the Holy Roman Empire in the Low Countries that were part of Spanish Empire from 1556 to 1714. Geographically, the Spanish Netherlands roughly corresponds to the modern Flandres, a region in Belgium. By convention, the painters that are associated with Spanish Netherlands are collectively known as the Flemish painting school.

Horsemen’s Portraits By Peter Paul Rubens (1577 – 1640) And Anthony van Dyck (1599 – 1641)

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Flemish painting of 17th century was dominated by two artists: Peter Paul Rubens and Anthony van Dyck. Both have painted male equestrian portraits featuring rearing horses and have their versions of Saint George. They both use large brushstrokes, which makes their paintings very dynamic.

It is interesting to observe that, despite many differences, all gentlemen on Rubens’s and van Dyck’s horsemen portraits wear the same costume (an armour with a red scarf) and they all hold a baton.

Equestrian Portrait of Giancarlo Doria, 1606, Peter Paul Rubens
Equestrian Portrait of Giancarlo Doria,
1606, Peter Paul Rubens
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St George Fighting the Dragon, 1606-10, Peter Paul Rubens
St George Fighting the Dragon,
1606-10, Peter Paul Rubens
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Equestrian Portrait of the Duke of Buckingham, 1625, Peter Paul Rubens
Equestrian Portrait of the Duke of Buckingham,
1625, Peter Paul Rubens
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The Cardinal-Infante Don Fernando de Austria at the Battle of Nördlingen, 1634-5, Peter Paul Rubens
The Cardinal-Infante Don Fernando de Austria at the Battle of Nördlingen,
1634-5, Peter Paul Rubens
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Equestrian portrait of Prince Tomaso of Savoy-Carignan, son of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy, 1634-5, Anthony van Dyck
Equestrian portrait of Prince Tomaso of Savoy-Carignan, son of Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy,
1634-5, Anthony van Dyck
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St George and the Dragon, before 1641, Anthony van Dyck
St George and the Dragon,
before 1641, Anthony van Dyck
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The Duke of Arenberg, before 1641, Anthony van Dyck
The Duke of Arenberg,
before 1641, Anthony van Dyck
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Equestrian portrait of the Duke of Arenberg (after Anthony van Dyck), 1742-88, Thomas Gainsborough, England
Equestrian portrait of the Duke of Arenberg (after Anthony van Dyck),
1742-88, Thomas Gainsborough, England
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Horsemen’s Portraits By Gonzales Coques (1614 – 1684)

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Fashions change with time. Equestrian portraits by Gonzales Coques, a minor Flemish painter of the 17th century, nicknamed de kleine van Dyck (the little van Dyck), allow to trace the evolution of the iconography of a horseman on a rearing horse in the 17th century very clearly. It starts off with traditional iconography, as used by Rubens: armour, red sash and a baton. Next, the red sash becomes blue. Then, the armour is replaced by a regular contemporary costume, and the baton transforms into a whip. Finally, the ladies appear; this is no longer a war hero portrait, but a courtly scene!

Another interesting detail that unites these paintings is that these oil paintings are not on wood or canvas, but on copper, which is unusual.

Equestrian portrait of a prince in armour, with the Order of the Golden Fleece, before 1684, Gonzales Coques
Equestrian portrait of a prince in armour, with the Order of the Golden Fleece,
before 1684, Gonzales Coques
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Equestrian portrait of Louis II de Bourbon, the Grand Condé, as a boy, 1643-7, Gonzales Coques
Equestrian portrait of Louis II de Bourbon, the Grand Condé, as a boy,
1643-7, Gonzales Coques
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An equestrian portrait, before 1684, Gonzales Coques (style of)
An equestrian portrait,
before 1684, Gonzales Coques (style of)
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Equestrian portrait of an elegant gentleman and lady in a wooded landscape, second half of the 17th century, Gonzales Coques
Equestrian portrait of an elegant gentleman and lady in a wooded landscape,
second half of the 17th century, Gonzales Coques
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Equestrian portrait of an elegant couple, second half of the 17th century, Gonzales Coques
Equestrian portrait of an elegant couple,
second half of the 17th century, Gonzales Coques
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Rubens’s Huntsmen

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There was another series of the horsemen on rearing horses, also by Peter Paul Rubens. These horsemen were depicted in the hunting scenes. It is possible that the dynamic iconography of these paintings was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's 'The Battle of Anghiari', and that it was referencing the antique depictions of the lion hunt.

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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Hippopotamus and Crocodile Hunt, 1615, Peter Paul Rubens
Hippopotamus and Crocodile Hunt,
1615, Peter Paul Rubens
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Zippy wallet with the reproduction of 'Tiger Hunt', 2017, $1770, LOUIS VUITTON
Zippy wallet with the reproduction of 'Tiger Hunt',
2017, $1770, LOUIS VUITTON
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Battle Scenes (Flemish And Italian Schools)

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Portrait of Sebastiaan Vrancx, 1615-41, Anthony van Dyck, Flemish
Portrait of Sebastiaan Vrancx,
1615-41, Anthony van Dyck, Flemish
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Portrait of Peeter Snayers, cr. 1626, Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish
Portrait of Peeter Snayers,
cr. 1626, Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish
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The genre of battle scenes was pioneered in Netherlandish painting by Sebastiaen Vrancx (1573-1647). His experience as an officer and captain of the Antwerp civil militia may have played a role in his interest in developing this genre. Approximately half of his known works are devoted to military scenes. He collaborated with Jan Brueghel the Elder, was portrayed by Anthony van Dyck, was a teacher of Peter Snayers, who, in his turn, was portrayed by Peter Paul Rubens! All these artists knew each other through Guild of Romanists, a prestigious society which was active in Antwerp from the late 16th to the late 18th century they belonged to.

It was a condition of membership to have visited Rome; it appears to have been strictly enforced. This illustrates the importance of Italian art for Flemish artists and explains some similarities of composition, technique and colour palette. The cultural exchange was facilitated by the fact that both the Southern Netherlands and Italy belonged to the same country, the Spanish empire.

Many of Flemish horsemen’s portraits and battle scenes relate to the battles where the Catholics have crashed the Protestants. Baroque style, which was nurtured by the Roman Catholic Church as, essentially, a tool of propaganda against Protestantism, was very fitting to glorify the victory in this battle.

The Battle of Issus or Arbela, 1602, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Flemish school
The Battle of Issus or Arbela,
1602, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Flemish school
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The Battle of Issus or Arbela (zoom on Alexander the Great), 1602, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Flemish school
The Battle of Issus or Arbela (zoom on Alexander the Great),
1602, Jan Brueghel the Elder, Flemish school
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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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The battle of Leckerbeetje, cr. 1600-47, Sebastiaen Vrancx, Flemish
The battle of Leckerbeetje,
cr. 1600-47, Sebastiaen Vrancx, Flemish
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Cavalry engagement at the foot of a hill, cr. 1601-15, Sebastiaen Vrancx, Flemish
Cavalry engagement at the foot of a hill,
cr. 1601-15, Sebastiaen Vrancx, Flemish
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Looting of a village, possibly Wommelgem in 1589, cr. 1600-1650, Sebastiaen Vrancx, Flemish
Looting of a village, possibly Wommelgem in 1589,
cr. 1600-1650, Sebastiaen Vrancx, Flemish
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Battle between Turkish and Christian horsemen, cr. 1610-1675, Vincent Adriaenssen, Flemish/Italian
Battle between Turkish and Christian horsemen,
cr. 1610-1675, Vincent Adriaenssen, Flemish/Italian
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Cavalry battle scene, cr. 1610-1675, Vincent Adriaenssen, Flemish/Italian
Cavalry battle scene,
cr. 1610-1675, Vincent Adriaenssen, Flemish/Italian
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Cavalry battle between Turkishs and Christians, cr. 1610-1675, Vincent Adriaenssen, Flemish/Italian
Cavalry battle between Turkishs and Christians,
cr. 1610-1675, Vincent Adriaenssen, Flemish/Italian
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The death of Decius Mus in the battle, 1618, Peter Paul Rubens, Flandres
The death of Decius Mus in the battle,
1618, Peter Paul Rubens, Flandres
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Battle of White Mountain, 1620, Peter Snayers, Flemish
Battle of White Mountain,
1620, Peter Snayers, Flemish
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Henri IV at the battle of Ivry, 1624-6, Peter Paul Rubens and Peter Snayers, Flemish
Henri IV at the battle of Ivry,
1624-6, Peter Paul Rubens and Peter Snayers, Flemish
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Isabel Clara Eugenia on the Breda Site, cr. 1628, Peter Snayers, Flemish
Isabel Clara Eugenia on the Breda Site,
cr. 1628, Peter Snayers, Flemish
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Cavalry Skirmish, cr.1610-41, Peter Snayers, Flemish
Cavalry Skirmish,
cr.1610-41, Peter Snayers, Flemish
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Relief from Constance Square, 1634, Vincenzo Carducci, Italian
Relief from Constance Square,
1634, Vincenzo Carducci, Italian
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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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Frederik Hendrik and Maurits as generals, with the Battle of Flanders in the distance, 1650, Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert, Flemish
Frederik Hendrik and Maurits as generals, with the Battle of Flanders in the distance,
1650, Thomas Willeboirts Bosschaert, Flemish
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Dutch Republic, 17th century

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After mentioning the Spanish Netherlands, we should mention the Dutch Republic, founded in 1581 by several Dutch provinces — fully seceded from Spanish rule in 1648 — that existed until the Batavian Revolution of 1795.

There were very few horsemen on the rearing horses created in the Dutch republic after 1648. This is expected; the Dutchmen were favouring the still life, genre and urban portraits to differentiate their art from the Catholic art. The source of their prosperity was trade and science, not war.

Prince Maurice of Orange during the Battle of Nieuwpoort (1600), cr. 1620-60, Henri Ambrosius Pacx, Dutch
Prince Maurice of Orange during the Battle of Nieuwpoort (1600),
cr. 1620-60, Henri Ambrosius Pacx, Dutch
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The Princes of Orange and their Families on Horseback, Riding Out from The Buitenhof, The Hague, 1621-2, Pauwels van Hillegaert, Dutch
The Princes of Orange and their Families on Horseback, Riding Out from The Buitenhof, The Hague,
1621-2, Pauwels van Hillegaert, Dutch
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The disbanding of the 'waardgelders' by Prince Maurits in Utrecht, 1618, Joost Cornelisz Droochsloot, 1625, Dutch
The disbanding of the 'waardgelders' by Prince Maurits in Utrecht, 1618,
Joost Cornelisz Droochsloot, 1625, Dutch
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Prince Frederik Hendrik on horseback outside the fortifications of 's-Hertogenbosch, 1632-5, Pauwels van Hillegaert, Dutch
Prince Frederik Hendrik on horseback outside the fortifications of 's-Hertogenbosch,
1632-5, Pauwels van Hillegaert, Dutch
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Princes Maurits and Frederik Hendrik on horseback, 1630-5, Pauwels van Hillegaert, Dutch
Princes Maurits and Frederik Hendrik on horseback,
1630-5, Pauwels van Hillegaert, Dutch
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The bear hunt, 1649, Paulus Potter, Netherlands
The bear hunt,
1649, Paulus Potter, Netherlands
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The Battle of the Milvian Bridge, cr. 1650, Johannes Lingelbach, Dutch school
The Battle of the Milvian Bridge,
cr. 1650, Johannes Lingelbach, Dutch school
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Diederik Tulp, 1653, Paulus Potter, Netherlands
Diederik Tulp,
1653, Paulus Potter, Netherlands
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Equestrian portrait of Johan Wolfart van Brederode, 1640-70, School of Thomas de Keyser, Netherlands
Equestrian portrait of Johan Wolfart van Brederode,
1640-70, School of Thomas de Keyser, Netherlands
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A Mughal nobleman on horseback, cr. 1656-61, Rembrandt, Netherlands
A Mughal nobleman on horseback,
cr. 1656-61, Rembrandt, Netherlands
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Portrait of Frederick Rihel on Horseback, 1663, Rembrandt, Netherlands
Portrait of Frederick Rihel on Horseback,
1663, Rembrandt, Netherlands
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France: Bourbons, Napoleon and Aristocracy, 17th-19th centuries

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Henry IV (1553 – 1610)

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Henry IV of France, the first monarch of France from the House of Bourbon, was not the first French royal horseman on a rearing horse (Charles IX of France had been portrayed on a rearing horse), but also the first one whose images followed the standard armour-and-baton iconography.

COMPARANDUM: Charles IX, King of France, 1565-99, unknown artist
COMPARANDUM: Charles IX, King of France,
1565-99, unknown artist
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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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Henri IV at the battle of Arques, cr. 1590, ?, France
Henri IV at the battle of Arques,
cr. 1590, ?, France
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Portrait of Henri IV on horseback with Paris on the background, 1553-1610, probably after 1594, ?
Portrait of Henri IV on horseback with Paris on the background,
1553-1610, probably after 1594, ?
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Henri IV, the king of France and Navarre in 1589,1600, ?
Henri IV, the king of France and Navarre in 1589,
1600, ?
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Henry IV destroying his enemies, ca. 1603, Barthélémy Prieur, France
Henry IV destroying his enemies,
ca. 1603, Barthélémy Prieur, France
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Henri IV on horseback bringing down his enemies, modelled in 1600 by Barthélémy Prieur, cast at the beginning of the 17th century
Henri IV on horseback bringing down his enemies,
modelled in 1600 by Barthélémy Prieur, cast at the beginning of the 17th century
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Louis XIII (1601 – 1643)

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Portraits of Louis XIII

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Few monarchs were as fond of being portraited on a rearing horse as Louis XIII and Louis XIV. This imagery well suited the apotheosis of absolute monarchy which was reached during their reign.

Louis XIII of France was depicted wearing either armour or a court costume; it seems that the only element of his appearance that would relate to antiquity is a laurel wreath. His most significant portraits were painted by Claude Deruet.

Equestrian statuette of Louis XIII, 1619-21, Pietro Tacca
Equestrian statuette of Louis XIII,
1619-21, Pietro Tacca
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Engraving of a bronze statue of Louis XIII on horseback, 1636, Nicolas Jacques, engraving made in 1765. The original bronze statue was destroyed at the Revolution (1792)
Engraving of a bronze statue of Louis XIII on horseback,
1636, Nicolas Jacques, engraving made in 1765. The original bronze statue was destroyed at the Revolution (1792)
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High relief of king Louis XIII on horseback, 1818, after the statue by Nicolas Jacques destroyed at the Revolution (1792)
High relief of king Louis XIII on horseback,
1818, after the statue by Nicolas Jacques destroyed at the Revolution (1792)
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Equestrian portrait of Louis XIII, 1635, Crispijn de Passe the Elder
Equestrian portrait of Louis XIII,
1635, Crispijn de Passe the Elder
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Louis XIII on Horseback, cr. 1622, probably by or after a Flemish painter
Louis XIII on Horseback,
cr. 1622, probably by or after a Flemish painter
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Equestrian portrait of Louis XIII, 17th century, Claude Déruet (attributed to)
Equestrian portrait of Louis XIII,
17th century, Claude Déruet (attributed to)
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Louis XIII on horseback,circa 1630, Justus van Egmont
Louis XIII on horseback,
circa 1630, Justus van Egmont
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Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu in front of La Rochelle,17th century, Unknown
Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu in front of La Rochelle,
17th century, Unknown
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Equestrian portrait of victorious Louis XIII, 17th century, Claude Déruet (attributed to)
Equestrian portrait of victorious Louis XIII,
17th century, Claude Déruet (attributed to)
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Other Horsemen Of Claude Deruet

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Studying other Claude Deruet‘s paintings with the horsemen on rearing horses allows to see what subjects were popular at the time: mostly courtly and antique subjects.

Triumph of the Amazons, 1620s, Claude Deruet, Nancy, France
Triumph of the Amazons,
1620s, Claude Deruet, Nancy, France
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Four elements: Fire, before 1642, Claude Deruet, France
Four elements: Fire,
before 1642, Claude Deruet, France
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Allegory of the Peace Treaty of the Pyrenees, 1659, Claude Deruet, France
Allegory of the Peace Treaty of the Pyrenees,
1659, Claude Deruet, France
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Equestrian portrait of Madame de Saint Baslemont, 1646, Claude Déruet
Equestrian portrait of Madame de Saint Baslemont,
1646, Claude Déruet
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An equestrian portrait of a gentleman, ?, Studio of Claude Déruet
An equestrian portrait of a gentleman,
?, Studio of Claude Déruet
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His painting of Madame de Saint-Baslemont, made in 1646, seems to be the first portrait of a woman on a rearing horse in oil paintings.

It appears that having a portrait on a hearing horse became a status symbol. Those who could not afford the portrait made by the famous master would order a cheaper lookalike version – I believe we see an example of this in the portrait done by Claude Deruet‘s studio.

Louis XIV (1638 – 1715)

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Louis XIV of France was even more fond of being depicted on a rearing horse.

Portraits of Louis XIV

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Many portraits of Louis XIV on a rearing horse were created during his reign, you can see a small selection here. Like many other aspects of his reign, these portraits reinforce his image of an infallible absolute monarch in the most visually exuberant way.

Equestrian portrait of Louis XIV of France, 17th century, Charles Le Brun and Adam Frans van der Meulen
Equestrian portrait of Louis XIV of France,
17th century, Charles Le Brun and Adam Frans van der Meulen
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Louis XIV on horseback crowned by the Victory, 1674, Pierre Mignard
Louis XIV on horseback crowned by the Victory,
1674, Pierre Mignard
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Portrait of King Louis XIV during the War of Devolution, 1668, Charles Le Brun
Portrait of King Louis XIV during the War of Devolution,
1668, Charles Le Brun
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Portraits of The Ladies of Louis XIV’s Court

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Louis XIV was known for his fondness of glamorous aristocratic ladies. The painters’ choices were in line with the preferences of the king. The most famous ladies’ portraits constitute a series of 6 paintings that were painted by Joseph Parrocel for Louis-Marie-Victor d'Aumont in the 1670s. The paintings were given as a gift to or bought by the Swedish ambassador Count Nils Bielke during his stay in Paris 1679-82. The series was later transferred to Skokloster Castle, where they are now exhibited.

Sculptural Depictions Of Louis XIV

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There were attempts to have a sculptural depiction of Louis XIV on a rearing horse. There exist some preparatory drawings made by Charles Le Brun and a bronze model by Le Brun’s protégé François Girardon, which, possibly, resulted in a statue that was at Place Vendôme in Paris between 1692 and 1699.

Louis XIV on horseback,cr. 1668, Charles Le Brun, France
Louis XIV on horseback,
cr. 1668, Charles Le Brun, France
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Louis XIV on horseback,cr. 1668, Charles Le Brun, France
Louis XIV on horseback,
cr. 1668, Charles Le Brun, France
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Louis XIV in armour trampling the vanquished,17th century, Charles Le Brun, France
Louis XIV in armour trampling the vanquished,
17th century, Charles Le Brun, France
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Equestrian statuette of Louis XIV,19 century, probably after Francois Girardon (before 1692), France
Equestrian statuette of Louis XIV,
19 century, probably after Francois Girardon (before 1692), France
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Triumph of Louis XIV, Salon of War, Versailles palace,c.1678-87, Antoine Coysevox
Triumph of Louis XIV, Salon of War, Versailles palace,
c.1678-87, Antoine Coysevox
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However, Gian Lorenzo Bernini‘s creation seems to be the only large-scale statue of Louis XIV on a rearing horse created in the 17th century. Louis XIV wanted Bernini to create a freestanding marble statue similar to The Vision of Constantine. For the technical reasons, a freestanding marble statue could not have only two supporting points; so the artist has chosen to support the horse’s belly, too. The statue greatly displeased Louis XIV and was banished to the farthest corner of Versailles park.

Observe that both Girardon’s and Bernini’s statues feature the outstretched towards the back arm. This looks somewhat unnatural but is useful to balance the statue. We have seen it only once before, on Leonardo’s drawing. It would be interesting to know if Louis XIV’s sculptors have come up with the same idea independently or not.



COMPARANDUM: The Vision of Constantine, 1670, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Scala Regia, Vatican
COMPARANDUM: The Vision of Constantine,
1670, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, Scala Regia, Vatican
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COMPARANDUM: Corpus Christi Procession with Pope Gregory XVI in the Vatican (with The Vision of Constantine on the background), 1840, Ferdinando Cavalleri
COMPARANDUM: Corpus Christi Procession with Pope Gregory XVI in the Vatican (with The Vision of Constantine on the background),
1840, Ferdinando Cavalleri
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COMPARANDUM: Constantine the Great Beholds the Sign of the Cross, second half of the 17th century, Gian Lorenzo Bernini or a later sculptor
COMPARANDUM: Constantine the Great Beholds the Sign of the Cross,
second half of the 17th century, Gian Lorenzo Bernini or a later sculptor
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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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I have found three more bronze figurines of Louis XIV on a rearing horse. Two made by Martin Desjardins were models for a public monument in Aix-en-Provence, but, mostly because of financial difficulties, it was never completed. The other one, by Thomas Gobert, was probably a model for the public monument in the garden of Rueil commissioned by Armand-Jean de Vignerot du Plessis, Duke of Richelieu, in 1685; again, it appears to not to be completed. There is also a relief depicting the king on a rearing horse made by Martin Desjardins (the statue was decorating the Place des Victoires statue of Louis XIV that was destroyed during the French Revolution).

Louis XIV on horseback dressed à la française, after a model commissioned in 1685 (?), Gobert Thomas
Louis XIV on horseback dressed à la française,
after a model commissioned in 1685 (?), Gobert Thomas
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Equestrian group with Louis XIV, cr. 1690-4, Martin Desjardins (or his assistants)
Equestrian group with Louis XIV, cr. 1690-4, Martin Desjardins (or his assistants)
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Louis XIV dressed à la romaine on a rearing horse,cr. 1690, Martin Desjardins
Louis XIV dressed à la romaine on a rearing horse,
cr. 1690, Martin Desjardins
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Crossing the Rhine, 16 June 1672,1681-1685, Martin Desjardins
Crossing the Rhine, 16 June 1672,
1681-1685, Martin Desjardins
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Victory crowning a Prince, probably Louis XIV, early 18th century, Guillielmus de Grof, Bavaria
Victory crowning a Prince, probably Louis XIV,
early 18th century, Guillielmus de Grof, Bavaria
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The projects of the monuments of Louis XIV on a rearing horse have failed. However, the idea was much admired by other European rulers, and the influence of French sculptural school was far-reaching. British and Bavarian sovereigns have commissioned the monuments similar to Desjardin’s model. Willem de Groff seemed to have made similar sculptures of both Louis XIV (on the right) and Bavarian elector Maximilian II Emanuel. Landmark equestrian statues in Dresden and Saint-Petersburg were made by French court sculptors. Swedish monarch went as far as buying plaster casts of French equestrian statues… You can read more about it in the corresponding sections of this work.

Other works by Charles Le Brun (1619 – 1690)

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Charles Le Brun was the leading artist at the court of Louis XIV, who declared him “the greatest French artist of all time”. As we can see that, other than the portrayals of the king, he was using the horsemen to depict the battles of antiquity, such as the battles of Alexander the Great and the Battle. Next, there are three scenes from Franco-Dutch War (1672 – 1678) won by France. Lastly, there is a depiction of The Expulsion of Heliodorus from the Temple painted in accordance with the icongraphy defined by Raphael.

Battle of the Granicus, 1665, Charles Le Brun, Paris, France
Battle of the Granicus,
1665, Charles Le Brun, Paris, France
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Alexander and Porus, 1665, Charles Le Brun, Paris, France
Alexander and Porus,
1665, Charles Le Brun, Paris, France
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Expulsion Of Heliodorus, before 1690, Charles Le Brun, Paris, France
Expulsion Of Heliodorus,
before 1690, Charles Le Brun, Paris, France
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The Battle of the Milvian Bridge, 1666, Gérard Audran after Charles Le Brun, France
The Battle of the Milvian Bridge,
1666, Gérard Audran after Charles Le Brun, France
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Battle of Saint-Omer, 1720, Louis Surugue after Van der Meulen and Charles Le Brun, Paris, France
Battle of Saint-Omer,
1720, Louis Surugue after Van der Meulen and Charles Le Brun, Paris, France
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Battle of Cassel, 1720, Louis Surugue after Van der Meulen and Charles Le Brun, Paris, France
Battle of Cassel,
1720, Louis Surugue after Van der Meulen and Charles Le Brun, Paris, France
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Regaining Valenciennes, 1720, Louis Surugue after Van der Meulen and Charles Le Brun, Paris, France
Regaining Valenciennes,
1720, Louis Surugue after Van der Meulen and Charles Le Brun, Paris, France
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Louis XV (1710 – 1774), Louis XVI (1754 – 1793) And Their Wives

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Presumably, Frenchmen have grown weary of the image of a rider on a rearing horse, so we do not see much of it during Louis XV reign: below is one engraving that depicts Louis XV and one painting, which shows his wife Marie Leszczyńska. Then we have two paintings of Marie Antoinette on a rearing horse, and only one painting of her husband, Louis XVI, which was made after the revolution (observe the Tricolor cockade) and, unlike the similar portraits of his ancestors, the soon to be decapitated king does not look confident at all.

Equestrian portrait of Louis XV,1765, altered version of an engraving made in 1732, print made by Louis Jacques Cathelin after Noël Le Mire (Louis XV's face) and Charles Parrocel
Equestrian portrait of Louis XV,
1765, altered version of an engraving made in 1732, print made by Louis Jacques Cathelin after Noël Le Mire (Louis XV's face) and Charles Parrocel
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Portrait of Marie Leczinska in front of the palace of Fontainebleau,1725, Jean-Baptiste Martin
Portrait of Marie Leczinska in front of the palace of Fontainebleau,
1725, Jean-Baptiste Martin
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Equestrian portrait of the queen Marie-Antoinette, 1783, Louis-Auguste Brun
Equestrian portrait of the queen Marie-Antoinette,
1783, Louis-Auguste Brun
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Marie-Antoinette hunting, 1783, Louis-Auguste Brun
Marie-Antoinette hunting,
1783, Louis-Auguste Brun
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Louis XVI as a citizen-king, sporting the tricolour cockade on his hat, 1791, Jean Baptiste François Carteaux
Louis XVI as a citizen-king, sporting the tricolour cockade on his hat,
1791, Jean Baptiste François Carteaux
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Horsemen’s Portraits At The Time of Napoleon I (1769 – 1821)

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The ascension of Napoleon has revived the image of the horseman on the rearing horse. Further similar portraits have appeared; their subjects are no longer royalties, but the aristocratic men who wish to boast of their horsemanship skills.

Napoleon Crossing the Alps, 1802, Jacques-Louis David
Napoleon Crossing the Alps,
1802, Jacques-Louis David
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Portrait of Jérôme Bonaparte, cr. 1808, Antoine-Jean Gros
Portrait of Jérôme Bonaparte,
cr. 1808, Antoine-Jean Gros
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Equestrian portrait of prince Boris Yusupov, 1809, Antoine-Jean Gros
Equestrian portrait of prince Boris Yusupov,
1809, Antoine-Jean Gros
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Equestrian portrait of Joachim Murat, 1812, Antoine-Jean Gros
Equestrian portrait of Joachim Murat,
1812, Antoine-Jean Gros
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An Officer of the Imperial Horse Guards Charging, 1812, Jean Louis Théodore Géricault
An Officer of the Imperial Horse Guards Charging,
1812, Jean Louis Théodore Géricault
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Louis XIV On A Rearing Horse At The Place De Victoires, 1816–1828

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Finally, after the demise of Napoleon, during Bourbon Restoration Louis XIV has got his statue on a rearing horse that will survive the turmoils and is still with us today: you can see it in Paris, on Place des Victoires.

This appears to be the last public statue where the horseman is dressed à l’antique and has a baton.

Given Louis XIV fondness of being represented on a rearing horse, one could not find a better person to conclude the sub-series of antique-themed horsemen.

Galerie des Batailles, Palace of Versailles, 1830s

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Louis-Philippe Opening the Galerie des Batailles (1837), 1837, François Joseph Heim, Versailles, France
Louis-Philippe Opening the Galerie des Batailles (1837),
1837, François Joseph Heim, Versailles, France
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The Galerie des Batailles (Gallery of Battles) is a gallery occupying the first floor of the Palace of Versailles. 120 metres long and 13 metres wide, it is similar to the grand gallery of the Louvre and was intended to glorify French military history from the Battle of Tolbiac (cr. 496) to the Battle of Wagram (1809).

Its creation was the idea of Louis-Philippe I, who opened in in 1837.

Battle of Mons-en-Pévèle (1304), cr. 1839, Charles-Philippe Larivière, Galerie des Batailles, Versailles, France
Battle of Mons-en-Pévèle (1304),
cr. 1839, Charles-Philippe Larivière, Galerie des Batailles, Versailles, France
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Battle of Rocroi (1643), cr. 1834, François Joseph Heim, Galerie des Batailles, Versailles, France
Battle of Rocroi (1643),
cr. 1834, François Joseph Heim, Galerie des Batailles, Versailles, France
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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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Battle of the Dunes at the siege of Dunkirk (1658), 1837, Charles-Philippe Larivière, Galerie des Batailles, Versailles, France
Battle of the Dunes at the siege of Dunkirk (1658),
1837, Charles-Philippe Larivière, Galerie des Batailles, Versailles, France
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Battle of Villaviciosa (1710), 1836, Jean Alaux, Galerie des Batailles, Versailles, France
Battle of Villaviciosa (1710),
1836, Jean Alaux, Galerie des Batailles, Versailles, France
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Battle of Fleurus (1794), 1837, Jean-Baptiste Mauzaisse, Galerie des Batailles, Versailles, France
Battle of Fleurus (1794),
1837, Jean-Baptiste Mauzaisse, Galerie des Batailles, Versailles, France
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Battle of Jena (1806), 1836, Horace Vernet, Galerie des Batailles, Versailles, France
Battle of Jena (1806),
1836, Horace Vernet, Galerie des Batailles, Versailles, France
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Eugène Delacroix (1798-1863): Huntsmen And Warriors

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Liberty Leading the People, 1830, Delacroix Eugène, France
Liberty Leading the People,
1830, Delacroix Eugène, France
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French painter Eugène Delacroix is perhaps best known for his painting Liberty Leading the People. But he has also produced a large number of paintings and drawings that depict horsemen on rearing horses!

Even without checking his biography, one can clearly see that Delacroix was very much inspired by Peter Paul Rubens. The depictions of the hunt are certainly very similar in their dynamics, caught in the midst of the action. It is possible that Peter Paul Rubens was inspired by Leonardo’s The Battle of Anghiari, which Rubens copied. Their representations of Saint George are very different, however, later images of Rubens’s horsemen have a similar composition. In addition, their brushwork and colour palettes are quite similar.

COMPARANDUM: Lion Hunt, cr. 1621, Peter Paul Rubens
COMPARANDUM: Lion Hunt,
cr. 1621, Peter Paul Rubens
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COMPARANDUM: Hippopotamus and Crocodile Hunt, 1615, Peter Paul Rubens
COMPARANDUM: Hippopotamus and Crocodile Hunt,
1615, Peter Paul Rubens
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The Tiger Hunt, 1854, Delacroix Eugène, France
The Tiger Hunt,
1854, Delacroix Eugène, France
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COMPARANDUM: Tiger Hunt, 1617-8, Peter Paul Rubens
COMPARANDUM: Tiger Hunt,
1617-8, Peter Paul Rubens
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COMPARANDUM: Copy of the lost Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo da Vinci, 1504-5, circa 1603, Peter Paul Rubens
COMPARANDUM: Copy of the lost Battle of Anghiari by Leonardo da Vinci, 1504-5,
circa 1603, Peter Paul Rubens
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A Persian Horseman with a Lance, cr. 1820-7, Delacroix Eugène, France
A Persian Horseman with a Lance,
cr. 1820-7, Delacroix Eugène, France
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Collision of Moorish Horsemen, 1843-4, Delacroix Eugène, France
Collision of Moorish Horsemen,
1843-4, Delacroix Eugène, France
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Saint George Fighting the Dragon, 1847, Delacroix Eugène, France
Saint George Fighting the Dragon,
1847, Delacroix Eugène, France
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COMPARANDUM: St George Fighting the Dragon, 1606-10, Peter Paul Rubens
COMPARANDUM: St George Fighting the Dragon,
1606-10, Peter Paul Rubens
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Arab Horseman Attacked by a Lion, 1849-50, Delacroix Eugène, France
Arab Horseman Attacked by a Lion,
1849-50, Delacroix Eugène, France
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Moroccan Horseman Crossing a Ford, cr. 1850, Delacroix Eugène, France
Moroccan Horseman Crossing a Ford,
cr. 1850, Delacroix Eugène, France
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Jaguar Attacking a Horseman, cr. 1855, Delacroix Eugène, France
Jaguar Attacking a Horseman,
cr. 1855, Delacroix Eugène, France
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A Turk Surrenders to a Greek Horseman, 1856, Delacroix Eugène, France
A Turk Surrenders to a Greek Horseman,
1856, Delacroix Eugène, France
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Heliodorus Driven from the Temple, cr. 1854-61, Eugène Delacroix, Paris, France
Heliodorus Driven from the Temple,
cr. 1854-61, Eugène Delacroix, Paris, France
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Holy Roman Empire and Germany, 15th-20th Centuries

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Drinking Horns, 15th-16th Centuries

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The first drinking vessels with horsemen were in the shape of horns. Most of those I have found were linked to Holy Roman Empire.

Drinking horn belonging to Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor (detail), cr. 1400, possibly a gift from the Order of Teutonic Knights
Drinking horn belonging to Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor (detail),
cr. 1400, possibly a gift from the Order of Teutonic Knights
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Drinking horn belonging to Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor (detail), cr. 1400, possibly a gift from the Order of Teutonic Knights
Drinking horn belonging to Sigismund, Holy Roman Emperor (detail),
cr. 1400, possibly a gift from the Order of Teutonic Knights
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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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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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Drinking Games And Table Centrepieces, 17th Centuries

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Map of the Holy Roman Empire in 1648, after the Peace of Westphalia
Map of the Holy Roman Empire in 1648, after the Peace of Westphalia
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In the 17th century the drinking vessels become even more elaborate, they looked like small sculptures. The examples below are of excellent quality, they are genuine art objects, and we know the goldsmiths who made them.

Most were produced in Augsburg, one of Free Imperial Cities of Holy Roman Empire.

Automation with the figure of Saint George, cr. 1615, Jakob Miller the elder, Augsburg, Germany
Automation with the figure of Saint George,
cr. 1615, Jakob Miller the elder, Augsburg, Germany
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Automation with the figure of Saint George, cr. 1618-1622, Joachim Fries, Augsburg, Germany
Automation with the figure of Saint George,
cr. 1618-1622, Joachim Fries, Augsburg, Germany
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Parcel-gilt silver equestrian figure of St. George, cr. 1640, Melchior Gelb I, Augsburg, Germany
Parcel-gilt silver equestrian figure of St. George,
cr. 1640, Melchior Gelb I, Augsburg, Germany
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Horse and Rider,1630, Hans Ludwig Kienle, Ulm, Germany
Horse and Rider,
1630, Hans Ludwig Kienle, Ulm, Germany
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Equestrian statuette of Gustavus II Adolphus of Sweden, 1635, Daniel Lang, Augsburg, Germany
Equestrian statuette of Gustavus II Adolphus of Sweden,
1635, Daniel Lang, Augsburg, Germany
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Drinking cup/centrepiece modelled as Charles I Stuart, King of England, 1639-1649, David Schwestermüller, Augsburg, Germany
Drinking cup/centrepiece modelled as Charles I Stuart, King of England,
1639-1649, David Schwestermüller, Augsburg, Germany
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Drinking cup/centrepiece, modelled as Gustavus Adolphus II King of Sweden, 1644-1647, David Schwestermüller I, Augsburg, Germany
Drinking cup/centrepiece, modelled as Gustavus Adolphus II King of Sweden,
1644-1647, David Schwestermüller I, Augsburg, Germany
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Table figurine 'Riding Warrior', 1665-1669, Heinrich Mannlich, Augsburg, Germany
Table figurine 'Riding Warrior',
1665-1669, Heinrich Mannlich, Augsburg, Germany
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Drinking cup/centrepiece modelled as a warrior on horseback, 1673, Mannlich Heinrich, Augsburg, Germany
Drinking cup/centrepiece modelled as a warrior on horseback,
1673, Mannlich Heinrich, Augsburg, Germany
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Drinking cup/centrepiece modelled as a horseman, 1680-1684, Lorenz I Biller, Augsburg, Germany
Drinking cup/centrepiece modelled as a horseman,
1680-1684, Lorenz I Biller, Augsburg, Germany
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Drinking cup/centrepiece modelled as mounted warrior,  Second half of the 17th century, Augsburg, Germany
Drinking cup/centrepiece modelled as mounted warrior,
Second half of the 17th century, Augsburg, Germany
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Some featured mechanisms that allow them to move on the table! You can see a similar mechanism in action below.

Diana and Stag Automaton:

Saxony: Gold and Porcelain, 18th – 19th Centuries

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Two German lands where the image of a horseman on a rearing horse was particularly popular were Saxony and Bavaria.

Golden Horsemen of Dresden

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Golden Horseman, 1735, Dresden, Saxony (Germany)
Golden Horseman, 1735,
Dresden, Saxony (Germany)
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August II and August III, fragment of Fürstenzug, 1871-6 and 1904-7,Dresden, Germany
August II and August III, fragment of Fürstenzug, 1871-6 and 1904-7,
Dresden, Germany
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In Saxony, it was mostly associated with two sovereigns, Augustus II the Strong (1670-1733) and Augustus III of Poland (1696-1763), the father and the son. The most famous depiction is certainly the Golden Horseman. The artists who have set the trend, Louis de Silvestre and Jean-Joseph Vinanche, were both French. However, the Golden Horseman’s colour reminds us of the drinking vessels that we have seen above, which makes it part of German tradition (Ludwig Wiedemann, a smith who has cast it, came from Augsburg where many of these drinking vessels were made). See another post for more information about the Golden Horseman. It is no surprise that Fürstenzug, the artwork created at the end of 19 century to celebrate the anniversary of Saxon dynasty depicts two most prominent sovereigns, Augustus II and Augustus III, on horseback, on golden background – this very much follows the tradition.

Portraits Of Electors of Saxony

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There were conventional portraits, too.

Equestrian portrait of August III, Louis de Silvestre, circa 1718
Equestrian portrait of August III,
Louis de Silvestre, circa 1718
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Equestrian portrait of August II the Strong, Louis de Silvestre, circa 1718
Equestrian portrait of August II the Strong,
Louis de Silvestre, circa 1718
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porcelain horsemen

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These images have inspired many porcelain horsemen, mostly done by Meissen porcelain factory. The choice of the media was not without a reason. Augustus II has sponsored the discovery of porcelain in Europe. Meissen porcelain factory was the first European porcelain producer. According to the Royal Collection, the figurines representing Augustus were among the first items produced by Meissen Manufactory, and were used as diplomatic gifts (they were the equivalents of modern selfies); it seems that the son has continued the tradition, but has also introduced the horseman on a rearing horse figurines that were influenced by the Golden Horseman. Langeloh’s expertise of the 1745 figurine tells the story of the creation of the first porcelain Horseman.

Model for a 12m equestrian statue to Augustus III, 123cm x 94cm x 117cm,1753, Johann Joachim Kändler
Model for a 12m equestrian statue to Augustus III,
123cm x 94cm x 117cm,
1753, Johann Joachim Kändler
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Augustus III porcelain figurineModel by Johann J. Kaendler,Meissen 1745
Augustus III porcelain figurine
Model by Johann J. Kaendler,
Meissen 1745
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Augustus III porcelain figurineModel by Johann J. Kaendler,1815-1860
Augustus III porcelain figurine
Model by Johann J. Kaendler,
1815-1860
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Augustus III porcelain figurineModel by Johann J. Kaendler,Late 19th century
Augustus III porcelain figurine
Model by Johann J. Kaendler,
Late 19th century
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Augustus III porcelain figurine,20th century, incised in 1796,after a model by Meyer
Augustus III porcelain figurine,
20th century, incised in 1796,
after a model by Meyer
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Bavaria, 18th Century: Possible Influence of France And Spain

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There were quite a few depictions of horsemen on the rearing horses in Bavaria. The most depicted sovereign was Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria (1662-1726, he was also Kurfürst of the Holy Roman Empire, the last governor of the Spanish Netherlands and duke of Luxembourg). Given his political situation, we can expect that the elector’s choice of self-representation was influenced by Spain and France.

Elector Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria on Horseback, 1707, Roger Schabol, after a model by Desjardins
Elector Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria on Horseback,
1707, Roger Schabol, after a model by Desjardins
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Elector Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria as Victor over the Turks, 1714, Guillielmus de Grof, Bavaria
Elector Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria as Victor over the Turks,
1714, Guillielmus de Grof, Bavaria
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Elector Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria as Victor over the Turks (detail), 1714, Guillielmus de Grof, Bavaria
Elector Maximilian II Emanuel of Bavaria as Victor over the Turks (detail),
1714, Guillielmus de Grof, Bavaria
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Prince Maximilian II Emmanuel of Bavaria, 1729, Giuseppe Volpini
Prince Maximilian II Emmanuel of Bavaria,
1729, Giuseppe Volpini
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Elector Maximilian III Josef of Bavaria on horseback, cr.1750, George Desmarées, Bavaria, Germany
Elector Maximilian III Josef of Bavaria on horseback,
cr.1750, George Desmarées, Bavaria, Germany
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Elector Karl Albrecht later Charles VII on horseback, 1758, Georges Desmarées, Bavaria, Germany
Elector Karl Albrecht later Charles VII on horseback,
1758, Georges Desmarées, Bavaria, Germany
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Elector Maximilian III Josef of Bavaria on horseback, 1758, Georges Desmarées, Bavaria, Germany
Elector Maximilian III Josef of Bavaria on horseback,
1758, Georges Desmarées, Bavaria, Germany
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Historistm in the late 19th – early 20th century: Drinking Vessels

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The Unification of Germany into a German Empire in 1871 has prompted interest in the historical heritage in general and high-quality replicas of the historical silver objects depicting horsemen on rearing horses in particular.

Production centres were mostly in Hanau (this centre specialised in historical replicas, see Hanau Silver) and Berlin.

Silver tankard showing cavaliers including a marshal, probably the Stadtholder (later William III of England) (detail), cr.1830-70, Berlin (?), Germany
Silver tankard showing cavaliers including a marshal, probably the Stadtholder (later William III of England) (detail),
cr.1830-70, Berlin (?), Germany
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Silver tankard showing cavaliers including a marshal, probably the Stadtholder (later William III of England) (detail), cr.1830-70, Berlin (?), Germany
Silver tankard showing cavaliers including a marshal, probably the Stadtholder (later William III of England) (detail),
cr.1830-70, Berlin (?), Germany
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Equestrian figure of Charles I Stuart, King of England, electrotype after a 1639-1649 original, 19th century, Elkington & Co., Birmingham, United Kingdom
Equestrian figure of Charles I Stuart, King of England, electrotype after a 1639-1649 original,
19th century, Elkington & Co., Birmingham, United Kingdom
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Drinking cup/centrepiece modelled as Gustavus Adolphus II King of Sweden, 1880, Germany
Drinking cup/centrepiece modelled as Gustavus Adolphus II King of Sweden,
1880, Germany
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A drinking game with a figure of a horseman, cr. 1900, Neresheimer, Hanau, Germany
A drinking game with a figure of a horseman,
cr. 1900, Neresheimer, Hanau, Germany
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Silver drinking horn, cr. 1900, JD Schleissner & Söhne, Hanau, Germany
Silver drinking horn,
cr. 1900, JD Schleissner & Söhne, Hanau, Germany
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Solid silver pair of knight horseman figures, cr. 1900, Georg Roth & Co, Hanau, Germany
Solid silver pair of knight horseman figures,
cr. 1900, Georg Roth & Co, Hanau, Germany
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Solid silver large knight horseman figure, cr. 1910, Germany
Solid silver large knight horseman figure,
cr. 1910, Germany
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Solid silver pair of knight horseman figures, cr. 1920, Germany
Solid silver pair of knight horseman figures,
cr. 1920, Germany
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Austria, 17th to 19th century: Little Known Gems

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It is interesting to see how each country was finding its unique way to interpret the theme of a horseman on a rearing horse. In the case of Austria, the feeling that I am getting when I look at their versions is lightness, giving the viewer the impression of weightlessness of the objects.

Caspar Gras, 1585 – 1674

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The First Large Statue With Two Support Points

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Equestrian statue of Archduke Leopold V on top of Leopoldsbrunnen, 1631, Caspar Gras, Innsbruck, Austria
Equestrian statue of Archduke Leopold V on top of Leopoldsbrunnen,
1631, Caspar Gras, Innsbruck, Austria
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Leopoldsbrunnen, photograph taken before 1941, 1623-30, Position: 1893, Innsbruck, Austria
Leopoldsbrunnen, photograph taken before 1941,
1623-30, Position: 1893, Innsbruck, Austria
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COMPARANDUM: Monument to Philip IV, Pietro Tacca, 1634-40, Madrid
COMPARANDUM: Monument to Philip IV, Pietro Tacca,
1634-40, Madrid
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COMPARANDUM: Statue of Andrew Jackson, 1852, Clark Mills, Washington D.C., U.S.A.
COMPARANDUM: Statue of Andrew Jackson,
1852, Clark Mills, Washington D.C., U.S.A.
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Caspar Gras, a little known Austrian genius artist, was particularly good in making his statues look weightless. He created the first rearing horse monument with only two support points. According to Charles Avery, it was the first life-size bronze horseman on a rearing horse in Europe. It appeared in Innsbruck in 1630 or 1631 or 1632 (different sources state different dates), some 220 years before the American monument to Andrew Jackson and almost 10 years before the Madrid monument three support points equestrian monument to Philip IV of Spain. It was the equestrian monument of Leopold V, Archduke of Austria made by Caspar Gras.

Unfortunately, although completed, the statue was never installed and remained in storage. It was only installed as a part of Fountain of Leopold 1892 or 1893 – this explains why it did not find the deserved place in the history of sculpture.

After that, Caspar Gras created the statue of Pegasus. It was made of copper (not of bronze), and was created to decorate a well in Salzburg. After that, it was relocated to the garden that surrounds Mirabell Palace, still in Salzburg. Pegasus has only two support points, just as the monument to Leopold V. It does not carry a rider, but, presumably, his large wings were as much a technological challenge as creating an equestrian statue with a rider.

Statuettes Of Emperors And Archdukes

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Later on, Caspar Gras has created a series of very similar statuettes of Austrian rulers, thus combining his artistic and economic acumen. In addition, he has supplied two replacement heads for these statuettes. Four of these statuettes (and both replacement heads) are now on display in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, one in Victoria and Albert Museum in London, and a few have emerged at auctions.

Equestrian statuette of Archduke Leopold V, 1630, Caspar Gras, Austria
Equestrian statuette of Archduke Leopold V,
1630, Caspar Gras, Austria
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Emperor Ferdinand II on horseback, 2nd quarter of the 17th century, Caspar Gras
Emperor Ferdinand II on horseback,
2nd quarter of the 17th century, Caspar Gras
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Emperor Ferdinand III on horseback, 2nd quarter of the 17th century, Caspar Gras
Emperor Ferdinand III on horseback,
2nd quarter of the 17th century, Caspar Gras
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Archduke Leopold, later Emperor Leopold I, 1600-1658, Caspar Gras
Archduke Leopold, later Emperor Leopold I,
1600-1658, Caspar Gras
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Emperor Ferdinand III on horseback, 1630-1674, Caspar Gras
Emperor Ferdinand III on horseback,
1630-1674, Caspar Gras
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Archduke Ferdinand Carl of Tirol, ca. 1648, Caspar Gras, Austria
Archduke Ferdinand Carl of Tirol,
ca. 1648, Caspar Gras, Austria
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Replaceable head (Archduke Leopold, later Emperor Leopold I), 1600-1658, Caspar Gras
Replaceable head (Archduke Leopold, later Emperor Leopold I),
1600-1658, Caspar Gras
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Replaceable head (Archduke Ferdinand Karl or Archduke Sigismund Franz), 2nd quarter of the 17th century, Caspar Gras
Replaceable head (Archduke Ferdinand Karl or Archduke Sigismund Franz),
2nd quarter of the 17th century, Caspar Gras
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Four horseman and two spare heads, all made from bronze by Caspar Gras in Innsbruck in the second quarter of the 17th century
Four horseman and two spare heads, all made from bronze by Caspar Gras in Innsbruck in the second quarter of the 17th century
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Equestrian statuette of Emperor Leopold I or Archduke Siegmund Franz on horseback, mid 17th century, Caspar Gras, Austria
Equestrian statuette of Emperor Leopold I or Archduke Siegmund Franz on horseback,
mid 17th century, Caspar Gras, Austria
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Equestrian statuette of Archduke Ferdinand Karl or Archduke Sigmund Franz von Habsburg on horseback, mid 17th century, Caspar Gras, Austria
Equestrian statuette of Archduke Ferdinand Karl or Archduke Sigmund Franz von Habsburg on horseback,
mid 17th century, Caspar Gras, Austria
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Equestrian statuette of Emperor Leopold I on horseback, 1665-70, Caspar Gras, Austria
Equestrian statuette of Emperor Leopold I on horseback,
1665-70, Caspar Gras, Austria
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Bone Statuettes And Portraits

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In addition, there are several bone statuettes made by Matthias Steinl, as well a portrait of Franz Joseph I of Austria, and one of his wife Empress Elisabeth of Austria, also known as Sisi.

Fury on a Charging Horse, 1610, Furienmeister, probably Salzburg, Austria
Fury on a Charging Horse,
1610, Furienmeister, probably Salzburg, Austria
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Equestrian statuette of Emperor Leopold I, 1690-3, Matthias Steinl, Austria
Equestrian statuette of Emperor Leopold I,
1690-3, Matthias Steinl, Austria
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Equestrian statuette of King Josephs I, 1693, Matthias Steinl, Austria
Equestrian statuette of King Josephs I,
1693, Matthias Steinl, Austria
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Equestrian statuette of Emperor Karls VI, 1711-2, Matthias Steinl, Austria
Equestrian statuette of Emperor Karls VI,
1711-2, Matthias Steinl, Austria
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Portrait of the young Emperor Francis Joseph on a horse,1855, Lilly Konig, Austria
Portrait of the young Emperor Francis Joseph on a horse,
1855, Lilly Konig, Austria
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Empress Elisabeth of Austria on horseback, 1857, Franz Adam, Austria
Empress Elisabeth of Austria on horseback,
1857, Franz Adam, Austria
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England and Great Britain, 12th-20th centuries

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An illuminated manuscript miniature of Edward III of England, c.1430-40, William Bruges, England
An illuminated manuscript miniature of Edward III of England,
c.1430-40, William Bruges, England
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The motif of a horseman on a rearing horse has enjoyed the conventional beginnings in medieval England.

After king Edward III has chosen Saint George as the Parton Saint of England, and dedicated the Order of the Garter established in 1348 is to his image and arms, one could expect the proliferation of the horsemen on the rearing horses.

However, this is where it stopped. Even though we will see a lot of horsemen on the rearing horses related to the Order of the Garter and seals, including royal seals – the imagery aimed at a very limited audience – there won’t be much horsemen on the rearing horses in public art.

Insignia of the Order of the Garter, 17th – 19th Centuries

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The insignia of the Order of the Garter includes the Greater George and the Lesser George, which are, respectively, a figurine and a badge depicting Saint George on a rearing horse slaying the dragon. We can also find Saint George image on the Order of the Garter memorabilia.

An Order of the Garter collar with Great George, 1628-9, England
An Order of the Garter collar with Great George,
1628-9, England
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An Order of the Garter Lesser George, 1628-9, England
An Order of the Garter Lesser George,
1628-9, England
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An Order of the Garter Lesser George, late 17th century, England
An Order of the Garter Lesser George,
late 17th century, England
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An Order of the Garter Lesser George, cr. 1750, England
An Order of the Garter Lesser George,
cr. 1750, England
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Great George (badge of the Order of the Garter), 1775-1800, Belonged to King George III, the U.K.
Great George (badge of the Order of the Garter),
1775-1800, Belonged to King George III, the U.K.
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An Order of the Garter Lesser George, early 19th century, England
An Order of the Garter Lesser George,
early 19th century, England
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Order of the Garter Ticket, 1805, engraved by Ottway, 27 Barbican, London
Order of the Garter Ticket,
1805, engraved by Ottway, 27 Barbican, London
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An Order of the Garter Lesser George, 1834-5, England
An Order of the Garter Lesser George,
1834-5, England
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Alexander II of Russia's Order of the Garter collar and badge, 1867, England
Alexander II of Russia's Order of the Garter collar and badge,
1867, England
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Gold enamelled Great George of the Garter, 19th century, the U.K.
Gold enamelled Great George of the Garter,
19th century, the U.K.
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great seals of the Realm, 12th – 19th Centuries

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Every English, then British monarch, except Empress Matilda in the 12th century, has at least one great seals of the Realm where he (or she) is depicted on horseback. Some of their horses are rearing, alluding either to hunt or to war. A very complete list of the great seals of the Realm can be found on Mernick website; some relevant highlights are below. Many medieval monarchs around Europe were using similar seals.

Great seals were used not only by English/British monarchs but also by English noblemen, Scottish kings, English noblemen wanting to become Scottish kings and some counties as well. The Queen Victoria‘s seal of County Palatine of Lancaster (today, primarily Lancashire, Greater Manchester and Merseyside) seems to be the only seal that features a woman on a rearing horse. It is possible that the dragon under the horse of Robert Fitzwalter, one the barons who forced king John Lackland to sign Magna Carta, alludes to Saint George‘s dragon.

Seal of Robert de Brus, 5th Lord of Annandale, 1291
Seal of Robert de Brus, 5th Lord of Annandale, 1291
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Queen Victoria (1837-1901), Seal of the County Palatine of Lancaster
Queen Victoria (1837-1901), Seal of the County Palatine of Lancaster
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Saint George on a rearing horse in public art, 14th – 20th Centuries

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Public art representations of Saint George on a rearing horse are virtually nonexistent: everything I could find is below.

St George and the dragon carved in pale oak, 14th century, Chester, England
St George and the dragon carved in pale oak,
14th century, Chester, England
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Detail of a miniature of St George and the dragon, from the Beaufort/Beauchamp Hours, cr. 1401, England (London) and Netherlands (Bruges)
Detail of a miniature of St George and the dragon, from the Beaufort/Beauchamp Hours,
cr. 1401, England (London) and Netherlands (Bruges)
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St.George and the Dragon, 1897, J and G Mossman, Glasgow. Originally it was on top of a Co-op building. When the building was demolished in 1980s, it was moved to the ground level
St.George and the Dragon,
1897, J and G Mossman, Glasgow. Originally it was on top of a Co-op building. When the building was demolished in 1980s, it was moved to the ground level
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St.George and the Dragon, 1901, detail of the Monument to Queen Victoria by Edward Onslow Ford, Manchester
St.George and the Dragon,
1901, detail of the Monument to Queen Victoria by Edward Onslow Ford, Manchester
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Olympic Games medal showing three classical figures and St George speaking the dragon, 1908, Bertram Mackennal, British Isles
Olympic Games medal showing three classical figures and St George speaking the dragon,
1908, Bertram Mackennal, British Isles
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A WWI British recruitment poster No. 108, 1915, England
A WWI British recruitment poster No. 108,
1915, England
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St. George, 1922, LYR War Memorial at Manchester Victoria Station
St. George,
1922, LYR War Memorial at Manchester Victoria Station
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Clock with a figurine of Saint George (detail), 1925, Liberty Department Store, London, United Kingdom
Clock with a figurine of Saint George (detail), 1925,
Liberty Department Store, London, United Kingdom
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War Memorial with Sculpture of St.George and the Dragon, cr. 1925-30, C.L. Hartwell RA, London NW8
War Memorial with Sculpture of St.George and the Dragon,
cr. 1925-30, C.L. Hartwell RA, London NW8
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One Crown commemorating George V Silver Jubilee showing St. George on horseback on reverse, minted in 1935, United Kingdom
One Crown commemorating George V Silver Jubilee showing St. George on horseback on reverse,
minted in 1935, United Kingdom
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George Medal awarded for saving Princess Anne from kidnap, 1974, the U.K.
George Medal awarded for saving Princess Anne from kidnap,
1974, the U.K.
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Kings And Aristocrats on rearing horses, 14th – 19th Centuries

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Portraits before the Glorious Revolution of 1688

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Paintings and drawings showing kings and aristocrats on rearing horses are much rarer than on a continent. In the beginning, before the Glorious Revolution of 1688, we see the portraits of prominent aristocrats but no royal portraits.

The Right Honorable Charles Howarde Earle of Notingham, mounted on a prancing horse, with a view of the Spanish Armada and the 1596 Battle of Cadiz in the background,1596-1603, probably 1599, Thomas Cockson
The Right Honorable Charles Howarde Earle of Notingham, mounted on a prancing horse, with a view of the Spanish Armada and the 1596 Battle of Cadiz in the background,
1596-1603, probably 1599, Thomas Cockson
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George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, mounted on a prancing horse, with a view of Puerto Rico in the background, cr.1599, Thomas Cockson
George Clifford, 3rd Earl of Cumberland, mounted on a prancing horse, with a view of Puerto Rico in the background,
cr.1599, Thomas Cockson
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Charles Blount, Duke of Devonshire, mounted on a prancing horse, with a view of St George's Channel and Ireland in the background,cr.1603-6, Thomas Cockson
Charles Blount, Duke of Devonshire, mounted on a prancing horse, with a view of St George's Channel and Ireland in the background,
cr.1603-6, Thomas Cockson
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Equestrian Portrait of the Duke of Buckingham, 1625, Peter Paul Rubens
Equestrian Portrait of the Duke of Buckingham,
1625, Peter Paul Rubens
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Portrait of the Duke of Buckingham,1625, Willem van de Passe
Portrait of the Duke of Buckingham,
1625, Willem van de Passe
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Portrait of James, 1st Duke of Hamilton,cr.1630-2, Willem van de Passe
Portrait of James, 1st Duke of Hamilton,
cr.1630-2, Willem van de Passe
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Portrait of Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector, 1654-8, Willem van de Passe
Portrait of Oliver Cromwell as Lord Protector,
1654-8, Willem van de Passe
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The Duke of Arenberg, before 1641, Anthony van Dyck
The Duke of Arenberg,
before 1641, Anthony van Dyck
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Equestrian portrait of the Duke of Arenberg (after Anthony van Dyck), 1742-88, Thomas Gainsborough, England
Equestrian portrait of the Duke of Arenberg (after Anthony van Dyck),
1742-88, Thomas Gainsborough, England
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William Cavendish on horseback, illustration of the dressage manual, 1657, Abraham van Diepenbeeck, Netherlands
William Cavendish on horseback, illustration of the dressage manual,
1657, Abraham van Diepenbeeck, Netherlands
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Satire: Louis XIV, holding out coins, runs after Charles II who holds the sceptre of peace and rides a prancing horse, 1670-80, Romeyn de Hooghe, Netherlands
Satire: Louis XIV, holding out coins, runs after Charles II who holds the sceptre of peace and rides a prancing horse,
1670-80, Romeyn de Hooghe, Netherlands
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Equestrian portrait of James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth (1649-1685),17th century, Unknown
Equestrian portrait of James Scott, 1st Duke of Monmouth (1649-1685),
17th century, Unknown
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Portraits of William III and George I by Godfrey Kneller and Jan Wyck

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Perhaps the only painter who fully complied with the horseman on a rearing horse iconography was Sir Godfrey Kneller with the depiction of George I of Great Britain. George I and his second cousin William III of England (frequently portrayed by Jan Wyck) were the only two monarchs to be frequently depicted on a rearing horse. Both these monarchs were born on the continent, which explains their preferences. There are very few small bronzes of the royalties and they appear relatively late.

Equestrian portrait of William III of Orange Nassau, 1672, Romeyn de Hooghe, Netherlands
Equestrian portrait of William III of Orange Nassau,
1672, Romeyn de Hooghe, Netherlands
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The Moroccan Ambassador, 1684, Godfrey Kneller and Jan Wyck
The Moroccan Ambassador,
1684, Godfrey Kneller and Jan Wyck
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Equestrian portrait of William III, cr. 1689, John Smith after Sir Godfrey Kneller, England (?)
Equestrian portrait of William III,
cr. 1689, John Smith after Sir Godfrey Kneller, England (?)
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Portrait of King William III at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, 1690-1700, (circle of) Jan Wyck
Portrait of King William III at the Battle of the Boyne in 1690,
1690-1700, (circle of) Jan Wyck
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Equestrian portrait of William III at the Battle of the Boyne, 1690-1702, Studio of Jan Wick, England
Equestrian portrait of William III at the Battle of the Boyne,
1690-1702, Studio of Jan Wick, England
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Equestrian portrait of William III, second half of the 17th century, Johannes Voorhout, Netherlands
Equestrian portrait of William III,
second half of the 17th century, Johannes Voorhout, Netherlands
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Equestrian portrait of William III, second half of the 17th century, circle of Godfrey Kneller, England
Equestrian portrait of William III,
second half of the 17th century, circle of Godfrey Kneller, England
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King William III on his favourite horse Sorrel , second half of the 17th century (?), manner of Jan Wyck, England (?)
King William III on his favourite horse Sorrel ,
second half of the 17th century (?), manner of Jan Wyck, England (?)
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William III garlanded by Victory,early eighteenth century, French School
William III garlanded by Victory,
early eighteenth century, French School
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John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, before 1723, Godfrey Kneller
John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough,
before 1723, Godfrey Kneller
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Equestrian Portrait of King George I of Great Britain, before 1723, Godfrey Kneller
Equestrian Portrait of King George I of Great Britain,
before 1723, Godfrey Kneller
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Portrait of King George I, 1717, Godfrey Kneller
Portrait of King George I,
1717, Godfrey Kneller
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Portraits in 1760s – 1850s

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Most famous British equine painter must be George Stubbs; his depiction of Whistlejacket cannot be missed when you visit the National Gallery. The only noteworthy public statue of a horseman on a rearing horse that I am aware of is the statue of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington.

Portrait of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales at a Review (George IV When Prince of Wales),1809, John Singleton Copley
Portrait of H.R.H. the Prince of Wales at a Review (George IV When Prince of Wales),
1809, John Singleton Copley
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Queen Victoria (1819-1901) on Horseback,1845, Sir Francis Grant
Queen Victoria (1819-1901) on Horseback,
1845, Sir Francis Grant
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The Duke of Wellington statue, 1852, Sir John Steel, Edinburgh
The Duke of Wellington statue,
1852, Sir John Steel, Edinburgh
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Clearly, the image of a horseman on a rearing horse did not enjoy as high status in Great Britain as it did on the continent. It was not used for the public statues of the monarchs. It was rarely used for the portraits and those portraits are lesser British art collections or abroad. This iconography was quickly adopted for the representation of the people of relatively low social standing.

Figurines Depicting horsemen on rearing horses

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Small bronzes of the horsemen on rearing horses have appeared quite early, but the subjects were mostly mythological and biblical. Those I have found are all made by Francesco Fanelli, a follower of Giambologna, who lived in London from 1610.

A mounted Turk attacked by a Lion, cr. 1635-1640, Francesco Fanelli, Anglo-Italian
A mounted Turk attacked by a Lion,
cr. 1635-1640, Francesco Fanelli, Anglo-Italian
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Nessus and Deianira, 1635-1645, Francesco Fanelli, Anglo-Italian
Nessus and Deianira,
1635-1645, Francesco Fanelli, Anglo-Italian
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Cupid on a horse, cr.1640, Francesco Fanelli, Anglo-Italian
Cupid on a horse,
cr.1640, Francesco Fanelli, Anglo-Italian
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St George and the Dragon, cr.1640, Francesco Fanelli, Anglo-Italian
St George and the Dragon,
cr.1640, Francesco Fanelli, Anglo-Italian
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Porcelain group showing a naked boy sitting on a lion's skin on a galloping horse, ca. 1753-1755, Vauxhall porcelain factory, London, Great Britain
Porcelain group showing a naked boy sitting on a lion's skin on a galloping horse,
ca. 1753-1755, Vauxhall porcelain factory, London, Great Britain
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Boy on horseback,cr. 1753-5, probably by Vauxhall Manufactory
Boy on horseback,
cr. 1753-5, probably by Vauxhall Manufactory
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COMPARANDUM: Augustus III porcelain figurineModel by Johann J. Kaendler,Meissen 1745
COMPARANDUM: Augustus III porcelain figurine
Model by Johann J. Kaendler,
Meissen 1745
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Perhaps the best way to illustrate the attitude of the British art towards the stately horseman on the rearing horses is the juxtaposition of British porcelain figurines against a German figurine manufactured at approximately the same time. All three depict a horseman sitting on a rearing horse, and with an animal skin as a saddle. Clearly, the lavish German figurine is meant to highlight the grandeur of august rider and to make a great impression on the viewer; it is done by a skilful and talented artist. In contrast, the British figurines show nameless boys, and look rather cheap and clumsy; the lion skin looks more like a cow skin.

Perhaps it was a slavish copy done by a mediocre craftsman. But, for me, this British submission looks more like a parody.

Sweden, 17th-18th centuries

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Most of the history of Swedish horsemen on the rearing horses spans between two wars. It started with the Thirty Years' War (1618-48), and, more specifically, the Battle of Breitenfeld (1631), where the army led by Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden have triumphed over Catholic enemies. We see quite a few portraits of Swedish sovereigns on rearing horses. Not all these portraits are of highest artistic standards (the faces are not always very expressive, and the anatomical proportions are not always correct). Some appear a bit dated: there are portraits painted on wooden panels whereas in the rest Europe most paintings were done on canvas since 16 century. The Swedish agents have purchased the plaster casts of Louis XIV statue with the intention to convert it to Karl XII statue but nothing that came out of it.

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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Gustavus II Adolphus at the Battle at Breitenfeld, 17th century, ?
Gustavus II Adolphus at the Battle at Breitenfeld,
17th century, ?
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Equestrian portrait of Carl Gustaf Wrangel, 1652, David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl
Equestrian portrait of Carl Gustaf Wrangel, 1652, David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl
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Karl X of Sweden,after David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl, 1660-80
Karl X of Sweden,
after David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl, 1660-80
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Karl XI of Sweden,1676, David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl (?)
Karl XI of Sweden,
1676, David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl (?)
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King Charles XI of Sweden riding a horse,17th century, David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl
King Charles XI of Sweden riding a horse,
17th century, David Klöcker Ehrenstrahl
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Karl XI on horseback, 1696, Studio of David von Krafft
Karl XI on horseback,
1696, Studio of David von Krafft
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Karl XII,late 17th century - early 18th century, circle of David von Krafft
Karl XII,
late 17th century - early 18th century, circle of David von Krafft
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Karl XII on horseback,1697-1718, David von Krafft (?)
Karl XII on horseback,
1697-1718, David von Krafft (?)
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Karl XII, King of Sweden, on horseback, 18th century, Bernard Picart
Karl XII, King of Sweden, on horseback,
18th century, Bernard Picart
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Return of King Karl XII from the Turkish exile and his arrival in Stralsund on 11 November 1714,1714, silver medal (unsigned)
Return of King Karl XII from the Turkish exile and his arrival in Stralsund on 11 November 1714,
1714, silver medal (unsigned)
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Karl XIV Johan, king of Sweden and Norway,1818-44, Fredric Westin
Karl XIV Johan, king of Sweden and Norway,
1818-44, Fredric Westin
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Adolf Fredrik, King of Sweden, mounted on a rearing stallion, probably celebrating his accession in 1751,before 1753, Jacques-Philippe Bouchardon
Adolf Fredrik, King of Sweden, mounted on a rearing stallion, probably celebrating his accession in 1751,
before 1753, Jacques-Philippe Bouchardon
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The Great Northern War (1700-21), and, more specifically, the Battle of Poltava (1709), where Swedes led by Karl XII were crushed by Russian army led by Peter the Great, has put an end to the imperial ambitions of Sweden. It never added new territory after the Battle of Poltava, and shortly thereafter lost more possessions. The image of the triumphant horseman on a rearing horse would have been out of place.

Emblematically, the rearing horse that appears after the reign of Karl XII is a rough plaster model for the statue of Adolf Frederick, King of Sweden, by Jacques-Philippe Bouchardon that seems to have never been completed and that, for a long time, was assumed to be the statue of Louis XV of France.

The image reemerges when Karl XIV Johan (born Jean Bernadotte, an ex-Marshal of France and a brother-in-law of Napoleon’s brother) was elected as an heir presumptive to the Swedish throne.

Russia, 13th century – 1917

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Russian State Symbols And Coins

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Saint George was the patron saint of many Russian grand princes and tzars since the 11th century. In parallel, an image of a horseman began to appear on the seals of Russian great princes. The personality of the horseman was vague, and it sometimes had the facial features similar to Russian sovereign in power.

Alexander Nevsky in early 13th century had a rearing horseman on his seal. Ivan III used the triumphant horseman as a state emblem of Russia on his seal from 1479. In 1497, it was replaced with the double-headed eagle, popularly interpreted as a symbol of Ivan’s marriage into the last ruling dynasty of the East Roman Empire, thus illustrating his claim to the Byzantine political and cultural heritage.

Both emblems had been used on state seals alternatively until 1562, when the first Russian tsar, Ivan IV the Terrible, combined them by placing a heraldic shield with the triumphant horseman to the chest of the double-headed eagle. This layout has become known as the coat of arms of the Russian Empire.

It was Peter the Great who was the first to identify the heraldic horseman as St. George, thus decoupling it from the representation of Russian monarchs. The first detailed description of the heraldic emblem of Moscow, which named the horseman as St. George, appeared in 1730, during Anna of Russia‘s reign. With several minor modifications, this emblem was officially confirmed in 1781, during Catherine II‘s reign.

Russian kopeks, Tzar Michael Romanov, 1613-1645
Russian kopeks, Tzar Michael Romanov,
1613-1645
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In addition, the horsemen were appearing on Russian coins, on kopek obverse in particular (kopek) is 1/100 of Russian Ruble). The horsemen, initially with a sabre, were there since the 15th century, if not earlier. The sabre was replaced with a spear in 1535, during the currency reform of Elena Glinskaya, the mother of Ivan IV the Terrible. This currency reform has created the first centesimal currency system in history. It seems that the first rearing horseman has appeared on kopek obverse during the reign of Michael of Russia, the first Russian Tsar of the House of Romanov. Kopek was made of silver until 1704, when silver was substituted with copper. It was also around that time that the horseman has started to unambiguously rear, and became firmly associated with Saint George. It seems to have disappeared from the faces of Russian coins at the turn of the 19th century, but made a return in 1997 (more about it later).

Russian Royal Horsemen

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Peter The Great, 1672 – 1725

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Essentially, the history of secular Russian horsemen on the rearing horses starts where the history of Swedish horsemen on the rearing horses stops. Peter the Great has forcibly modernised and westernised Russia. His most popular image is the warrior on a rearing horse and is often placed on Poltava battlefield. The best known and most loved depiction of Peter I on a rearing horse is the Bronze Horseman; see another post of this blog for more information about it.

Equestrian portraits of Peter the Great are abundant; they continued to proliferate after his death. The quality is quite uneven. Most of his equestrian portraits depict him on a rearing horse, with a sword. This became a canonical, cliché representation of Peter I at the battle of Poltava. The only portrait where he possibly holds a baton is the Johann Gottfried Tannauer‘s portrait. The first portrait of Peter I appears to be oddest one: it looks quite medieval, and it is doubtful that Peter ever wanted to be represented wearing old-fashioned European armour.

Allegory of the Victory at Poltava (Apotheosis of Peter I), Unknown, circa 1710
Allegory of the Victory at Poltava (Apotheosis of Peter I),
Unknown, circa 1710
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Peter the Great at the Battle of Poltava, Johann Gottfried Tannauer, 1711-37
Peter the Great at the Battle of Poltava,
Johann Gottfried Tannauer, 1711-37
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Peter I at the Battle of Poltava, Johann Gottfried Tannauer, 1724 or 1725
Peter I at the Battle of Poltava,
Johann Gottfried Tannauer, 1724 or 1725
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Battle of Poltava (tapestry), after Louis Caravaque, 1720s
Battle of Poltava (tapestry),
after Louis Caravaque, 1720s
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Battle of Poltava (mosaic), Mikhail Lomonosov, 1762–1764
Battle of Poltava (mosaic),
Mikhail Lomonosov, 1762–1764
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Peter I on horseback, unknown, end of the 18th century
Peter I on horseback,
unknown, end of the 18th century
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Peter I of Russia stops marauding soldiers after taking Narva in 1704, Nikolay Sauerweid, 1859
Peter I of Russia stops marauding soldiers after taking Narva in 1704,
Nikolay Sauerweid, 1859
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Other Russian Royal Horsemen, 17th – 19th Centuries

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Equestrian portrait of Alexis of Russia, cr.1670-80, unknown
Equestrian portrait of Alexis of Russia,
cr.1670-80, unknown
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Interestingly, Peter I was not the first Russian sovereign to be depicted on a rearing horse; his father, Aleksey Mikhailovich, had been portrayed using the same iconography except that his hand holds not the baton or the sword, but Orthodox cross.

Most of Peter I’s successors also appear as the riders on the rearing horses, but not as frequently as Peter I. It seems that from a certain point it became canonical to represent Russian emperors on white horses.

Empress Elisabeth of Russia on Horseback,cr. 1743, Johann Joachim Kaendler, Meissen
Empress Elisabeth of Russia on Horseback,
cr. 1743, Johann Joachim Kaendler, Meissen
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Empress Elisabeth of Russia on Horseback,cr. 1750, Johann Joachim Kaendler, Meissen
Empress Elisabeth of Russia on Horseback,
cr. 1750, Johann Joachim Kaendler, Meissen
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Empress Elisabeth of Russia on Horseback,after 1934, Johann Joachim Kaendler (after), Meissen, was on sale for $9900
Empress Elisabeth of Russia on Horseback,
after 1934, Johann Joachim Kaendler (after), Meissen, was on sale for $9900
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Equestrian portrait of Peter III, G.C.Grooth, 1742-4
Equestrian portrait of Peter III,
G.C.Grooth, 1742-4
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Equestrian portrait of Grand Duchess Catherine Alexeevna, G.C.Grooth, 1744
Equestrian portrait of Grand Duchess Catherine Alexeevna,
G.C.Grooth, 1744
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Catherine II of Russia, after Johann Joachim Kändler, 1770
Catherine II of Russia,
after Johann Joachim Kändler, 1770
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Emperor Pavel I with his retinue, 1799-1802, Johann Baptist von Lampi the Younger
Emperor Pavel I with his retinue,
1799-1802, Johann Baptist von Lampi the Younger
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Alexander I with Constantine Pavlovich,1803-4, A.P.Grachev
Alexander I with Constantine Pavlovich,
1803-4, A.P.Grachev
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Equestrian Portrait of Emperor Alexander I,1820s, Alexander Osipovich Orlovsky
Equestrian Portrait of Emperor Alexander I,
1820s, Alexander Osipovich Orlovsky
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Portrait of Alexander I of Russia, 1837, Franz Kruger
Portrait of Alexander I of Russia,
1837, Franz Kruger
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Empress Alexandra Feodorowna on Horseback,1836, Gustav Bläser
Empress Alexandra Feodorowna on Horseback,
1836, Gustav Bläser
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Nicholas I of Russia,before 1837, made in France
Nicholas I of Russia,
before 1837, made in France
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Future emperor Alexander II of Russia, 1840, Franz Kruger
Future emperor Alexander II of Russia,
1840, Franz Kruger
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Emperor Alexander II, Second half of the 19th century, P.F. Borel
Emperor Alexander II,
Second half of the 19th century, P.F. Borel
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Portrait of Alexander III on Horseback at Gatchina, late 1880s or early 1890s, Nikolai Shilder
Portrait of Alexander III on Horseback at Gatchina, late 1880s or early 1890s, Nikolai Shilder
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Nicholas II of Russia in the uniform of Life Guard Hussar Regiment, 1896, unknown
Nicholas II of Russia in the uniform of Life Guard Hussar Regiment,
1896, unknown
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The other prominent Russian monument of a horseman on a rearing horse is the Monument to Nicholas I; it is also located in Saint Petersburg. It was a great engineering achievement; this is believed to be the first equestrian statue in Europe with only two support points. However, it was universally disliked. For example, it was said that Grand Duchess Maria Nikolaevna of Russia (1819–1876), Nicholas’s daughter, suffered considerable discomfort because of the prominent view on the horse’s posterior from the Mariinsky Palace where she lived. The other reason is that Nicholas I was not much appreciated by Russians; in the 19th century in St. Petersburg there was a saying: “The fool of the clever catches up, but the monument stands on the way” (Russian: “Дурак умного догоняет, но памятник ему мешает!”) – this refers to Saint Isaac's Cathedral that stands right between the Bronze Horseman representing Peter I of Russia, “the clever”, and the monument to Nicholas I of Russia, “the fool”.

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