The Statue of the King Riding, Facing the DuomoThe statue of the rider standing in the Piazza del Duomo is of the king of the united kingdom of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II.
In the statue, the King is seen leading his troops in battle, while restraining the enthusiasm of his faithful horse.
The statue was commissioned in 1878 by the Italian artist Ercole Rosa, by the successor of Vittorio Emanuele II, King Umberto I.
But also the artist, Rosa, passed away before the statue was completed. So, the two Borghese brothers completed the work. They did so under the supervision of another artist, the sculptor Ettore Ferrari. Thus, it took 18 years to place it in the square, and in 1896 it was inaugurated in the central piazza of Milan.
The decision of where to locate the statue was not simple either, and for three years the king debated between the Royal Palace and the Piazza del Duomo. The decision was finally made, and the statue was placed in a central location in Milan.
The Horse's Legs and the Fate of the Rider – a Detective MissionIn a common cliché, or so-called "folklore of tour guides", it is often said to travelers that in the statue of a horse and its rider, the position of the horse's legs, reflects the fate of the sculpted rider. According to this theory, when one of the horse's legs is in the air, the rider is injured in battle. With two legs in the air, the rider dies in battle. Only if all four feet of the horse are on the ground, the rider in not injured and dies at a ripe old age.
Debates whether this is true or not continue. There are many examples of sculptures that indeed confirm the idea and there are many examples of sculptures that do not "align" with this line. But here's a detective job, for the hard-working young people – based on the position of the horse before you, what was the fate of Vittorio Emanuele II? – Was he wounded or died in battle, or was he not injured at all?
And now search the Internet and try to determine whether the folklore of the guides is approved here or not ...
What Do You See in the Statue?Take note of the steady and impressive rider before you. The four legs of the horse stand on a base of red granite stone and give the creation a powerful stability. All around you notice the white marble steps, topped by an extra base made of Carrera marble.
The bronze relief on this base shows the entrance of the Piedmont soldiers to the city of Milan. It was after the city was liberated in the battle of Magenta. The battle, commanded by the king of Piedmont, Vittorio Emanuele II, is one of the most significant victories in the Second War of Independence, on the way to the unification of Italy.
In the battle of June 4, 1859, French and Sardinian forces, led by the French king Napoleon III, fought in the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which ruled northern Italy at the time. The defeat of the Austrians at the time was asignificant step towards the liberation of northern Italy from the rule of this empire and to the independence and unification of all of Italy.
At the base of the statue, there are two lions and next to them, the plaques inscribed with the names of Rome and Milan. These are the achievements of the great victories during the Risorgimento, the name of the struggle waged by King Vittorio Emanuele II and the political genius next to him, Cavour, in the unification of Italy.
Notice the branches of the palm tree with the date, in June 1859. This is when the King entered Milan. On the other side of the statue, you will see another date, June 14, 1896. This is the date on which the statue was inaugurated.