The Bronze Horseman

The Bronze Horseman - Monument to Peter I
The Bronze Horseman – a monument to Peter I on Senate Square in St. Petersburg – is one of the main symbols of the city on the Neva.

< h2>The Bronze Horseman-Monument to Peter I on the Senate Square in St. Petersburg
The equestrian statue of the Russian Emperor Peter I is one of the most recognizable sights of St. Petersburg, it is a symbol of this city. The history of the creation of the monument and its naming “The Bronze Horseman” is full of interesting events and legends.
In Kronstadt, there is a monument to Peter the Great, more than 8 meters high, on which he is depicted standing in full height.

A horse standing on its hind legs with a rider sitting on it makes an impression on anyone who looks at it. The monument impresses with the fact that a huge, heavy horse stands on its hind legs, while having, as it seems, only two points of support.
The monument has some secrets, thanks to which it was possible to create it in such an impressive form.
You can briefly describe the monument and the process of its creation in a few figures and facts: the
author of the idea and the creator of the French sculptor Etienne Falcone;
the beginning of work on the monument on September 6, 1766 is the date of signing the contract with the sculptor;
The monument was opened on August 7, 1782;
the material of the monument is bronze;
the weight of the monument is about 9 tons; the
height of the monument is more than 5 meters, without taking into account the granite stone at the base

The image of Peter, which was supposed to be embodied in the monument, caused disputes between the sculptor, close officials and the Empress Catherine the Great, who is the customer of the sculpture. Representatives of the Russian nobility wanted to see Peter, who personified, first of all, the ruler, in a mantle, with a scepter and a rod.
But Falcone, who studied the personality of the reformer emperor from available sources, conceived a different view. The French sculptor argued that the Russian tsar could not have the appearance of Roman emperors. He was introduced to the image of Peter a few accents that pass a certain quality of the ruler: a horseman dressed in a long Russian shirt and sitting on a bearskin rug instead of a saddle, thus representing closeness to the people and the Russian people of the snake under the hooves of the horse – the symbol of ignorance, deceit, malice, and envy, the manifestations of which fought Peter the great, the traits of the Creator and benefactor expressed in patronizing gesture, stretched over a country subject to him. The whole figure of the king represents confidence and calmness.A block of granite, which rises on horseback, is the emblem of the difficulties on the path of life, a form of granite stone, reminiscent of the wave symbolizes the sea, conquered by Peter the figure of the victorious commander specify only a Laurel wreath on his head and a sword hanging at the waist of the Rider looks into the distance as if appraisingly, hatching plans to protect the state from threats and thinking about new achievements.
The Bronze Horseman Creates a Monument
Empress Catherine II, who ruled the country from 1762 to 1796, shared the reformist ideas of Peter the Great. She decided to emphasize her loyalty to them by erecting a monument in the city founded by the ruler.
In 1765, the empress was advised to turn to Etienne Falcone, as the original statue of Peter, created by Francesco Rastrelli, did not like Catherine.
Falcone personally worked on the sketch of the sculpture. In order for the master to catch and draw the movement of the horse, the position of its graceful, rapid take-off, the guard officer posed for several hours on the rearing horse. As a sample, Orlov’s horse from the imperial stable was chosen.
Then work began on a life-size plaster sample, which lasted three years and was completed in 1769.
It is noteworthy that the sketch of the head and face of the “Bronze Horseman” was created by a student of Falcone – a 17-year-old Frenchwoman Marie-Anne Collot, whom he took with him to the Russian capital. The options made by the teacher himself did not please the empress; she rejected the finished model that Falcone had fashioned three times.
His assistant painted the portrait overnight, from the death mask of Peta the Great. In recognition of her skill, Maria Anna became a member of the Russian Academy of Arts, and Catherine II granted her a lifetime pension.
After the plaster model was made, the sculpture waited for further metal casting. In 1772, an invited French foundry worker arrived in Russia. But he was fired because he considered the sculptor’s demands impossible. Falcone personally supervised the subsequent preparation for the casting.
The initial weight of the block was 1,600 tons, it was located at a distance of about 9 km from the site of the monument. This made it difficult to transport it to the square.
From November 1769 to March 1770, a piece of rock was delivered to the coast of the Gulf of Finland on an icy winter road on a platform that moved with the help of peculiar bearings. The stone was then loaded onto a specially built vessel. In the autumn of 1770, on September 25, the future pedestal arrived on the bank of the Neva River near the Senate Square.
On both sides of the stone was an inscription: on one side in Russian, on the other in Latin: “Peter I to Catherine II in the summer of 1782”.
Opening of the monument
The event was timed to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the accession of Peter the Great to the throne and took place in the summer of 1782, on August 7, old style. By this time, Falcone had already left Russia due to disagreements with the Empress. The opening of the monument took place without his presence. He was sent only commemorative coins cast in honor of this solemn event. Thus, the work on the monument from the creation of a sketch of the sculpture to the opening took as much as 12 years.

Secrets of construction< / strong>
The statue of a rearing horse surprises with its balance. You might think that his figure is held only on his hind legs. In fact, some tricks were used to give stability to the sculptural composition.
In order not to disturb the image of the rapid take-off of a rearing horse, a flexible snake was chosen, weighing it down with a massive support structure. In the turn, her body, crushed by the hooves, accidentally touches the horse’s tail. Connected to it, it thus gives stability and balance to the entire monument. According to Falcone’s sketch, the snake figure for casting was created by the Russian sculptor Fyodor Gordeev.

The secret of casting< / strong>
The secret of the stable balance of the sculpture is also that its back is much heavier than the front. This was achieved in the process of casting the monument: the front walls of the sculpture were made very thin, no more than one centimeter in thickness. For such a unique, complex work at that time, the Russian caster Emelyan Khaylov took up. For three years, he honed his skills: together with Falcone, he experimented with the composition of the alloy.
During the first casting, a failure occurred: a pipe burst, through which the hot metal got into the mold. As a result, the upper part of the figure of Peter was damaged.
After being refilled three years later, Falcone left an inscription in the folds of the emperor’s cloak, stating that he was the creator of the sculpture
Another interesting element of Peter’s appearance is the pupils. It is as if he is looking at the city he founded with a loving gaze: his pupils are unusually shaped, in the form of hearts. There is a version that Marie-Anne Collot, who created a sketch of Peter’s head and face for the monument, similarly expressed romantic feelings for Etienne Falcone.

Place of installation of the monument to the Bronze Horseman-Monument to Peter I
The location of the Bronze Horseman is known to almost everyone. It is located near the Neva River, next to the Admiralty, founded by Peter I, and the Senate building. The square on which the monument is erected is called Senatskaya Square.
There were also disputes about the place of its installation between the sculptor and the Empress Catherine II. The location of the monument was chosen by the sculptor not by chance. Catherine II wanted to erect a monument in the very center of the Senate Square, but Falcone had his own idea, which he insisted on and which he implemented.
The conqueror of the sea, whose reforms began the glory of Russia as a great maritime power, according to the French sculptor, should have stood closer to the Neva, facing it.

Origin of the name “Copper Rider” < / strong>
The name “Copper Horseman” was given to the monument much later than its construction, but it was firmly fixed in it and remained unchanged for almost 200 years.
The name of the monument is associated with the work of Alexander Pushkin, namely with his poem of the same name “The Bronze Horseman”, written in the autumn of 1833.
Why, then, does Pushkin use the epithet “copper” in relation to the bronze monument? According to some literary critics, such qualities as fame and eternity, according to the poetic traditions of Pushkin’s time, were usually described by this definition.
Others believe that in this way Pushkin expressed the stubborn character of Peter, hinting at the phraseology about the “copper forehead”.
A more prosaic explanation is that until the 19th century, the designation “copper” was allowed in Russian in relation to bronze products. In addition, bronze is an alloy of copper itself with some other element.
After the Thunderstone was removed from the ground at the site of its discovery, the pit was filled with water. The resulting reservoir was named Petrovsky Pond. Since 2011, it has been granted the status of a Specially Protected Natural Area.