Statue or sculpture?
Quotes from the book ‘From Marcus Aurelius to Kim Jong-il’
When making a website on equestrian statues, defining the subject was unavoidable. I reached the following definition:
An equestrian statue is a free standing, unique and monumental sculpture of the combination horse and an identifiable – and real – rider, made from a durable material.
Any sculpture of the combination of man or woman and horse, that does not meet the requirements as defined, is termed an ‘equestrian sculpture’. There are a great many of these sculptures, often noteworthy works of art. This is reason enough ….
Defining implies making choices. Here are the ones I made.
Free standing: This excludes high-relief equestrians and those that are not free standing (for example, in niches). A statue has to be visible from all sides
Unique: I excluded exact replicas of an existing equestrian statue. There are e.g. many replicas of the Jeanne d’Arc statue by Emmanuel Frémiet, but the original statue is the only equestrian statue on the list. If the original statue has been destroyed and a replica has been made, I considered the oldest replica to be the equestrian statue. There are examples of statues based upon a former statue by the same artist but (slightly) different because ………………….
Monumental: The statue is at least life size. This means the exclusion of a number of small equestrians and what are termed statuettes
Horse: There are many attractive sculptures of animals ridden by men e.g. the sculpture in Oslo of a bear ridden by a naked woman or King Naresuan riding a war elephant in Thailand. But how impressive or attractive these sculptures may be, they do not qualify as equestrian statue. Even if the animal was a donkey, the sculpture did not come through the selection. Sorry for Sancho Panza in Spain and Nasreddin Hodja in Turkey.
Identifiable and a real person: This criterion excludes many works of art like e.g. the many magnificent sculptures by Marino Marini who brought the image of man and horse back to a highly stylized bare minimum. It also means that a number of memorials and allegorical sculptures are excluded as well as the great number of anonymous cowboys and Native Americans in the US. Also not categorized as equestrian statue as a result of the application of this criterion, were equestrian sculptures of mythical figures and persons from literature like Bendigeidfran (in Wales), Don Quixote and Lady Godiva.
The many sculptures of saints like Saint George and Saint Martin were a doubtful case. Those persons may have lived, but they are more portrayed as symbols rather than as historical and identifiable persons. Therefore I have considered them not as an equestrian statue, but as a separate category equestrian sculpture.
Made of sustainable material: With sustainable we mean material that can potentially survive the ravages of time i.e. bronze, lead, aluminium, stone and metal. Wood is in this case not considered being sustainable, which means that a number of funeral monuments, mainly in Italian churches, are not on the list. Needless to say……..