Topic: Peter the Great
The Bronze Horseman is an impressive monument to the founder of Russia’s city of St.Petersburg, Peter the Great. On August 7, 2012 this symbol of St.Pete turns 230.
In Russian the monument is called “ the copper horseman” though it’s actually made of bronze. The famous Russian poet Alexander Pushkin was the one calling the horseman “copper” in his narrative poem of 1833.
Commissioned by Catherine the Great, the statue was erected on Senatskaya Square. In correspondence with the Empress, the famous philosopher Denis Diderot suggested French sculptor Étienne Falconet to create the monument. Before erecting the statue, Falconet did a lot of research about Russia and Peter the Great, says director Andrei Konchalovsky who knows a lot about the sculptor.
"Peter the Great was a mystery for any foreigner so Falconet wanted to understand his character. The monument is unusual –Peter has no symbols of power like orb and scepter. He is more of a hero, athlete on a horse rearing at the edge of a cliff. Falconet carved from life and as this was the pre-photography era a guard officer on a rearing horse was posing for him everyday."
It took Falconet 12 years to finish the monument. The statue was unveiled marking 100 years of Peter the Great’s ascension to the throne.
A horseman on a large stone is dominating the Neva embankment having survived the Revolution of 1917, the renaming of city to Leningrad and back and many other things. Its engraving says to Peter the Great from Catherine II.
The horseman’s outstretched arm is pointing towards Sweden while Stockholm has a monument to Karl XII pointing towards Russia reminding of fierce battles between the countries. Then, Peter defeated Sweden and gained access to the Baltic Sea.
The legend has it that during the Siege of Leningrad the statue was covered with sandbags and a wooden shelter. After the shelter was removed someone painted the Medal for the Defense of Leningrad on the horseman’s chestand it remained untouched for a long time.
© The Voice of Russia. 7 August, 2012