Horsemen With Replaceable Heads

The artists reuse the artworks that were created previously, by them or by other artists. This can be quicker or cheaper than creating fully original work.

Prints

Prints are the type of artwork where the heads can be easily replaced, and more than one version will remain.

‘The Headless Horseman’

Charles I with M. de St Antoine,1633, Anthony van Dyck
Charles I with M. de St Antoine,
1633, Anthony van Dyck
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Equestrian portrait of Charles I, 1655-1700, Pierre Lombart
Equestrian portrait of Charles I,
1655-1700, Pierre Lombart
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Equestrian portrait of Oliver Cromwell, 1655-1700, Pierre Lombart
Equestrian portrait of Oliver Cromwell,
1655-1700, Pierre Lombart
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The most famous example is based on a famous portrait of Charles I of England by Anthony Van Dyck. This painting reinforces the image of Charles as the absolute monarch. The image was so influential that, despite having opposite political ideas, Oliver Cromwell has commissioned a very similar image.

The resulting print became known as ‘The Headless Horseman’. It had undergone seven transformations:

  1. Oliver Cromwell;
  2. There is no head;
  3. Louis XIV;
  4. Louis XIV again;
  5. Cromwell again;
  6. Charles I;
  7. Cromwell for the third time.

French Kings, English Aristocrats And Oliver Cromwell (Again)

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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Equestrian portrait of Henri III,1585-1589, Robert Boissard
Equestrian portrait of Henri III,
1585-1589, Robert Boissard
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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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Another example is the portraits of Henri III and Henri IV of France: they are identical except for the heads and the inscriptions.

The portraits of George Villiers, 1st Duke of Buckingham, James Hamilton, 1st Duke of Hamilton and Oliver Cromwell are also very similar: the heads, the inscriptions and the clothes change, and the rest of the composition remains the same.

Statues and Statuettes With New Heads, 17th Century

Statues and statuettes can get new heads, too, mostly for economic reasons.

This economical approach is considered legitimate even for self-glorification. One of the examples is the project of a statue for Charles XII of Sweden. Swedish monarch agents have purchased the plaster cast of Louis XIV; they were planning to convert it to Karl XII statue. Unfortunately, the cast was broken during the transportation, and no material evidence of that would-be statue remains.

However, some examples of the statues and statuettes that had their heads replaced are still with us.

Emmanuel Philibert of Savoy to Vittorio Amedeo I of Savoy

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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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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The statue of the Duke of Savoy had its head changed. According to SEETORINO, Charles Emmanuel I has commissioned an equestrian statue to honour the memory of his father, Emmanuel Philibert. Sculptor Andrea Rivalta from Rome was responsible for the marble part and Federico Vanelli from Lugano was responsible for the bronze part.

The sculpture parts were completed but remained in storage in different locations in Turin.

His grandson Charles Emmanuel II ordered the construction of an equestrian statue to glorify his father, Vittorio Amedeo I, the son of Charles Emmanuel I. Someone has remembered about the unassembled sculpture, and, after the facial transformation, it was unveiled as the statue of Vittorio Amedeo I. It is now on display in the Royal Palace of Turin.

Ferdinando II de’ Medici of Tuscany to Peter I of Russia

Grand duke Ferdinando II di Medici on Horseback, with the head of Peter the Great, 1615-21, Pietro Tacca, Florence
Grand duke Ferdinando II di Medici on Horseback, with the head of Peter the Great,
1615-21, Pietro Tacca, Florence
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Spare horse for the equestrian statuette of Louis XIII, 1615-17, Pietro Tacca
Spare horse for the equestrian statuette of Louis XIII,
1615-17, Pietro Tacca
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Equestrian statuette of Louis XIII, 1619-21, Pietro Tacca
Equestrian statuette of Louis XIII,
1619-21, Pietro Tacca
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Equestrian monument of Carlo Emmanuele, Duke of Savoy,1619-21, Pietro Tacca
Equestrian monument of Carlo Emmanuele, Duke of Savoy,
1619-21, Pietro Tacca
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According to the Princely Collections Art Service, Pietro Tacca has created a series of 4 bronze figurines between 1619 and 1621. Three of them portray Charles Emmanuel I, Duke of Savoy (1562-1630), Louis XIII of France (1601-43) and Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (1642-1723). The forth now depicts Peter I of Russia (1672-1725). We can conclude that at least 2, maybe more figurines had the heads added or modified after the death of Pietro Tacca (1577-1640).

In the estate inventory of Pietro Tacca’s son Ferdinando made in 1687, one of the figurines is listed with a wax model of the head of Ferdinando II de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (1610-70) attached to it.

His son, Cosimo III de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany (1642-1723), maintained lively contacts with Tsar Peter the Great of Russia. He had Russian painters and sculptors trained in Venice and Florence. Russian court may have acquired the statuette at the beginning of the 18th century. The head of the Medici Duke was probably replaced for Peter I of Russia‘s head by the Russian court artist Carlo Bartolomeo Rastrelli (who was born in Florence).

Statuettes With Replaceable Heads, Austria, 17th Century

Caspar Gras, an Austrian artist, was well ahead of his time. He created a series of very similar statuettes of Austrian rulers, thus combining his artistic and economic acumen. In addition, he 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.

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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Zurab Tsereteli, 1992-present

The idea of head replacement does not belong to the past. Russian sculptor Zurab Tsereteli has created a monument to Columbus that he wanted to offer as a gift to the United States since 1992. After multiple rejections, the monument has ended up in Puerto Rico. As of late 2015, the monument still was not assembled.

Undiscouraged, Tsereteli has produced a very similar Peter the Great Statue that has been planted in Moskva River, which has also caused much controversy.

Further similar monuments have been suggested.

Peter the Great Statue (close-up),1997, Zurab Tsereteli
Peter the Great Statue (close-up),
1997, Zurab Tsereteli
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To The Struggle Against Cancelled Vacation Tours
To The Struggle Against Cancelled Vacation Tours
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To The Struggle Against Weapons of Mass Destruction
To The Struggle Against Weapons of Mass Destruction
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