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Anichkov Bridge: the history and secrets of the horses of Peter Klodt
Anichkov Bridge: the history and secrets of the horses of Peter Klodt
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Anichkov Bridge and its secrets

The famous horses of Klodt decorating the Anichkov Bridge are the pride of St. Petersburg. And the author of these famous masterpieces is Peter Karlovich Klodt, who spent about 20 years on their creation. Now it seems that there is no better place for these magnificent sculptures. But in fact, the history of their installation did not begin with the Anichkov bridge at all.

In 1832, it was decided to decorate the University embankment, opposite the Academy of Arts, in the Greek style with two sculptural groups of bronze horses with their tamers - the twin brothers Dioscuri, heroes of ancient Greek mythology.

Petr Karlovich Klodt

Peter Klodt, a sculptor from St. Petersburg, was commissioned to carry out this order, and he got down to work. However, after a while, plans changed - and instead of horses, ancient statues of two sphinxes of the 13th century, brought from the capital of Egypt, lay on the embankment.

Sphinxes in St. Petersburg

At that time, the famous sculptor Carl Rossi was working on the Palace Square ensemble. And he decided to decorate the pier between the Winter Palace and the Admiralty with the lions and horses of Klodt. But Emperor Nicholas I did not approve of this idea; guard lions with balls and vases were placed on the pier. Pyotr Klodt began to independently look for a place for their installation, and chose Anichkov Bridge. There they were installed in 1841, on one side of the bridge, the western one. And on the other side, they temporarily put their copies made of plaster, painted in bronze.

Anichkov Bridge in the 1840s

During the year, Klodt made two more sculptures, but they never reached the bridge. As a gift from Nicholas I to the Prussian king, the horses went to Berlin, where they were installed. After spending another year, Klodt cast new copies of bronze horses, they were installed, but three years later, removed from the pedestals, they were sent to Naples. While the copies were given away as royal gifts, the sculptor had a new idea. He decided not to make any more copies, but to create two completely new compositions, combined with the already established single concept.

In 1851, the bridge, decorated with horse groups, appeared in all its glory. All compositions are combined into a single sequence, reflecting the stages of the conquest of an unbroken horse by man, and symbolizing the struggle of man with the formidable forces of nature and triumph over them. As conceived by Klodt, the figures on the bridge are located in such a way that it is impossible to see them all at the same time from any point, but they should be considered, gradually passing from one to another. But depending on the starting point, the plot will look different.

For example, like this:

The young man, in anticipation of the confrontation in tension, restrains the rearing horse. The horse stands on its hind legs, trying to break free, the young man holds it. The horse threw off the blanket and almost broke free. The young man is defeated, but he holds the horse, pulling on the bridle. Raising himself up and leaning on his knee, the young man subdues the wild horse.

Or like this:

The beginning of the duel … The young man tries to grab the rearing horse. The horse almost managed to escape, but the young man is holding it back with his last strength. The young man already confidently restrains the horse, and he gradually obeys him. The victorious young man confidently leads the submissive horse by the bridle.

But there is one interesting detail: there are horseshoes on the hooves of both horses facing the Admiralty, and two horses on the other side are not shod.

Horses with horseshoes …

Many explain it this way: in those days, foundries and forges were located on Liteiny Prospekt and Kuznechny Lane, so already shod horses were moving from the forges.

… and no horseshoes

At the beginning of the struggle, wild horses should be barefoot, and only after a person had tamed them, the horses could be shod. Given this fact, the plot is presented in a different way:

A young man, who has fallen to one knee, stops a wild, not yet shod, horse. The horse threw the young man off and almost broke free from him. The horse, still trying to resist, begins to obey the will of the person. The horse is shod. The tamer and the bridled and shod horse confidently walk side by side.

But the options do not end there, there is another interesting one:

The man is lying on the ground. Here he got down on one knee. Now he got to his feet. And now he is walking to his full height, taking the horse by the bridle. But how can he who is lying on the ground tame someone? A person can, with the help of a horse, rise from the ground, and then it turns out that this whole composition is not the Taming of the Horse, but the Rise of a person, his aspiration upward, thanks to the horse. And the last group convinces of this, where two of the most magnificent creatures on earth walk side by side, equally beautiful, strong and graceful. By the way, Klodt himself called his statues the Horse with the Waterman, it is the Horse who is in the first place with him.

BONUS

Becoming on the right side of the bridge with their backs to the Admiralty, many tourists tend to look under the horse, which is closer to the Anichkov Palace.

So is there a face?

According to one of the most famous tales, Klodt sculpted the genitals of this horse in the form of a face - either Napoleon, or his wife's lover. This hardly has anything to do with reality, but it amuses tourists.

Especially for those who are interested in the history and sights of St. Petersburg the most interesting facts about the Bronze Horseman, which is not at all made of copper.

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