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These four life-size bronze equestrian sculptures were part of the loot brought back to Venice after the sack of Constantinople in 1204. Originally they were just part of a larger statue, as they were pulling a "quadriga", a type of racing chariot. Fifty years after arriving in Venice they were mounted on the loggia of St. Mark's Basilica, where they remained until looted again, this time by Napoleon in 1797. They were returned to Venice in 1815 following Napoleon's final defeat. In the 1980s, as a result of damage caused by air pollution, they were moved indoors and replaced on the loggia by replicas.

Technically, they are not made of bronze. Analysis has shown they are around 96.7% copper, so they should be regarded as being cast from impure copper rather than bronze. The low tin content in the alloy creates the unusual mercury gilding of the statues. The collars round the necks were an addition once they arrived in Venice, designed to disguise where the necks had been sliced through for transportation.

Scholars disagree about when they were originally made, with some suggesting the 2nd or 3rd century, but others believe they were originally cast in the 5th or 4th century BCE.

Four Horses

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