COLLEONI EQUESTRIAN STATUE

VERROCCHIO & LEOPARDI: 1496

The monument, an equestrian statue in bronze, was inaugurated on March 21, 1496. It is the second equestrian statue of the Renaissance. The first is in Padua, a statue of Gattamelata, by Donatello.

In 1483 Verrocchio, from Florence, was awarded the commission for this project after winning a competition. Until his death in 1488, Andrea del Verrocchio focused on this single major project. Verrocchio aimed to create a monument that outshone Donatello’s equestrian statue in Padua. In his monumental sculpture, Verrocchio succeeded in raising the front left leg of the horse in the air. He died before it was completed and after his death Allesandro Leopardi finished the statue.

Andrea di Francesco di Cione, known as Verrocchio, was a teacher of Leonardo da Vinci, and disciple of Donatello.

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2. WORDS

Translation:

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3. 3 LEGGED STANCE OF HORSE

Verrocchio was the first Renaissance artist to sculpt an equestrian monument on only three legs since Roman times.

Verrocchio based the sculpture on Donatello's statue in Padua, the ancient statue of Marcus Aurelius in Rome, St. Mark's Horses in Venice, and some renaissance frescoes.

He was challenged by attempting to represent the horse not only moving but with a raised leg. Stability of the statue would be an issue due to the excessive weight of the bronze being supported by only 3 very thin legs. Donatello, in his monument at Padua, had partially solved the problem by putting the raised leg on a sphere.

Above is Marcus Aeriulis from ancient roman times.

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4. COMPARE FACE TO PORTRAIT OF COLLEONI 1568

The face of the statue seems to be an idealised version of Colleoni.

Leopardi (who took over after Verrocchio died) played a major role not just in the casting, but also in the creation of some of the details on the statue. While Verrocchio casted the horse and soldier, Leopardi finished Colleoni's face, the armour, the horse bridles, the saddle and the work to polish and chisel the statue’s details.

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5. POSTURE OF COLLEONI

Most equestrian statues have a more or less similar position of rider and horse.

Verrocchio's statue shows a more advanced sculpture with the rider in a standing vs sitting position. This gives the rider a more powerful and physically active appearance..

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1. COAT OF ARMS ON BASE

The three "commas" on the shield are said to represent three human testes.

Some attribute this to polyorchidism, the presence of an extra testicle which they thought Bartolomeo possessed (although this is rumour and not confirmed).

Supposedly, Bartolomeo Colleoni was very proud of this anatomical detail. He had it depicted in the coat of arms of his family and even on his tomb in the cathedral of Bergamo.

In Italian, the word "coglioni," which sounds like "Colleoni" is slang for testicles.

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LEOPARDI'S SIGNATURE UNDER THE HORSE

Verocchio, having made the clay model of the statue, died in 1488, before it had been cast in bronze. He asked in his will that his pupil, Lorenzo di Credi cast the statue. Instead, in 1490, the Venetians selected Leopardi for this job. Leopardi had been exiled in 1487 for 5 years on a charge of fraud. He was recalled in 1490 by the senate to finish the statue. He also made the pedestal on which the statue stands. His name (in Latin) is inscribed on the horse’s girth: “ALEXANDER . LEOPARDUS . V . P . OPUS”. Early authorities thought that the work was entirely his.