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Ideological Dimension of Equestrian Monuments / Maković, Zvonko.

By: Maković, Zvonko.
Material type: ArticleArticlePublisher: 2016Description: 18-19 str.Other title: Ideological Dimension of Equestrian Monuments [Naslov na engleskom:].Subject(s): skulptura - konjički spomenici, ideološka dimenzija u javnoj skulpturi | konji kao tema u skulpturi | 6.05 | 6.04 | Equestrian Monuments, Public Sculpture | Equestrian Monuments, Public Sculpture In: Art and Politics in Europe in the Modern Period : Programm str. 18-19Summary: The only surviving equestrian statue from the Ancient Roman period, the one showing Marcus Aurelius, became a prototype for similar later works that for centuries gave prominent features to public spaces, firstly in Europe and from the 19th century, across the world. Carefully situated in space, these statues have not only an aesthetic function but carry within themselves numerous hidden meanings many of which belong to ideological or political systems. Moreover, it was an ideological meaning of Marcus Aurelius’ statue, though wrongly interpreted, that kept it preserved. The period of Early Christianity saw radical destruction of antiquities which, consequently, resulted in complete annihilation of not only monuments dedicated to pagan gods but also to pagan rulers. The equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius was believed to represent Constantine, the emperor who legitimized Christianity, which was the reason it survived and retained its privileged status for centuries. In the Middle Ages the statue was mounted next to the church of St John Lateran in Rome while in the 1530s it was relocated to the centre of Capitol Square. The new location was meant to send a message that mirrored the shift in ideology that the Roman Catholic Church went through in the period. In the Renaissance period, squares of Italian cities were dotted with equestrian statues, which symbolized the power of rulers, aristocracy and military dignitaries, while Spain and France also started dedicating the same sort of public sculptures to kings. Maria Medici commissioned an equestrian statue honouring her killed husband Henry IV, the first French monarch of the House of Bourbon, which was placed in the western part of Ille de la Cité in Paris. This sculpture initiated a high production of this type of monument that reached its peak in the period under the rule of Louis XIV. This king demonstrated his particular and unambiguous manner of ruling, and therefore ideology, through equestrian monuments which he had placed on many French city squares. It is therefore of no surprise that equestrian monuments ended up being victims in the 1789 Revolution as pronounced symbols of the Bourbons. After these bronze statues had fallen prey to revolutionaries, they were reused for monuments to Napoleon during the First Empire. However, with the return to power, the Bourbons restored the equestrian memorials of their ancestors. The hyper-production of equestrian monuments in the 19th century, and in later periods, clearly speaks about new political and ideological frameworks. That was manifested through both the erection of these signs of power on prominent public sites, and their destruction in the period of political turmoil such as revolutions and wars. The inflation of equestrian statutes reached its peak in the 21st century in Skopje, the capital of a newly formed state which has used these tangible signs to demonstrate its political construction of national identity.
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The only surviving equestrian statue from the Ancient Roman period, the one showing Marcus Aurelius, became a prototype for similar later works that for centuries gave prominent features to public spaces, firstly in Europe and from the 19th century, across the world. Carefully situated in space, these statues have not only an aesthetic function but carry within themselves numerous hidden meanings many of which belong to ideological or political systems. Moreover, it was an ideological meaning of Marcus Aurelius’ statue, though wrongly interpreted, that kept it preserved. The period of Early Christianity saw radical destruction of antiquities which, consequently, resulted in complete annihilation of not only monuments dedicated to pagan gods but also to pagan rulers. The equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius was believed to represent Constantine, the emperor who legitimized Christianity, which was the reason it survived and retained its privileged status for centuries. In the Middle Ages the statue was mounted next to the church of St John Lateran in Rome while in the 1530s it was relocated to the centre of Capitol Square. The new location was meant to send a message that mirrored the shift in ideology that the Roman Catholic Church went through in the period. In the Renaissance period, squares of Italian cities were dotted with equestrian statues, which symbolized the power of rulers, aristocracy and military dignitaries, while Spain and France also started dedicating the same sort of public sculptures to kings. Maria Medici commissioned an equestrian statue honouring her killed husband Henry IV, the first French monarch of the House of Bourbon, which was placed in the western part of Ille de la Cité in Paris. This sculpture initiated a high production of this type of monument that reached its peak in the period under the rule of Louis XIV. This king demonstrated his particular and unambiguous manner of ruling, and therefore ideology, through equestrian monuments which he had placed on many French city squares. It is therefore of no surprise that equestrian monuments ended up being victims in the 1789 Revolution as pronounced symbols of the Bourbons. After these bronze statues had fallen prey to revolutionaries, they were reused for monuments to Napoleon during the First Empire. However, with the return to power, the Bourbons restored the equestrian memorials of their ancestors. The hyper-production of equestrian monuments in the 19th century, and in later periods, clearly speaks about new political and ideological frameworks. That was manifested through both the erection of these signs of power on prominent public sites, and their destruction in the period of political turmoil such as revolutions and wars. The inflation of equestrian statutes reached its peak in the 21st century in Skopje, the capital of a newly formed state which has used these tangible signs to demonstrate its political construction of national identity.

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