The #LineOfKings is a new and exciting exhibition in the Tower of London telling the story of how the armour of Kings was presented from the C17th to the C18th.
The 'Russian doll' story that intrigued me most in the #LineOfKings was the origin of the wooden horses carved and painted to display the armoured Kings. Their origin is being researched at the moment but most were carved in the later C17th. Each one is individual in look, colour and in many cases, construction too. As soon as I saw them a bell rang in my head but the message it chimed was not clear to me until I returned home.
The majority of the horses are posed in a distinctive Renaissance style with one hoof raised and the muscles in tension. This is an artistic tradition of the Renaissance directly inspired by the glory of Rome and by a very famous Emperor.
The statue of Marcus Aurelius is typically Roman in style. Many others have been discovered from the same classical stable, including a marble statue in Herculaneum. Marcus Aurelius is the only equestrian bronze to survive the turmoil of the fall of Rome and mediæval mayhem. Not only that, it was also the only equestrian bronze in Europe for over a thousand years. This has made it uniquely influential and the Adam, as it is a stallion, of the equestrian art that procreated in the Renaissance.
Michelangelo represented the statue in 1538 and sketched it too. The distinctive appearance of this horse then featured in his work and that of da Vinci, Dürer and Donatello. This distinctive Renaissance style symbolises Kingship and power. It is not just a statue of a horse. The wooden horses in the #LineOfKings are part of this tradition and were specifically carved to portray the power of the monarchy.
The C17th horses in #LineOfKings are clearly part of this artistic tradition. Further research across a range of disciplines will reveal more about their precise ages and the artists who created them. A dendro-date is being obtained from one horse and both endoscopy and x-ray analysis are in progress. The paint is being carefully examined to search for dating evidence. This has already shown the horses were stored between the time they were primed and when they were given their final colours. A farrier has looked at their hooves to study the shoes and nails, and in due course a vet will examine their anatomy.
I would like HRP to invite Patrick Baty to examine the horses as he has the relevant expertise to delve deep into their story. Not only is Patrick the preeminent expert on historical paint, he was also an officer of Lancers and is familiar with war horses. Patrick restored the Tudor sculptures at Hampton Court and has an incredible depth of knowledge about Renaissance painted sculptures.
Please do follow Patrick on Twitter @patrickbaty and visit his very useful website http://patrickbaty.co.uk/
Most of all, please visit #LineOfKings at The Tower of London and see the armour, horses and weaponry for yourself.
Follow @HRP_palaces to learn more.