Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
A quadriga (from the Latin language quadri-, four, and jungere, to yoke) is a four-horse chariot, raced in the Olympic Games and other sacred games, and represented in profile as the usual chariot of gods and heroes on Greek vases and bas-reliefs. The quadriga was adopted in ancient Roman chariot racing. Quadrigae became a natural emblem of triumph, victory or fame, often depicted as a triumphant woman guiding a quadriga. In classical mythology, quadrigas were the vehicles of the gods; Apollo was often depicted as driving his quadriga across the heavens, bringing daylight with him and dispersing the darkness of night.
All modern quadrigas are based on the Triumphal Quadriga, a Roman or Greek sculpture which is the only surviving ancient quadriga. It was originally erected in the Hippodrome of Constantinople, possibly on a triumphal arch, and is now in St Mark's Basilica in Venice. It was looted by Venetian Crusaders in the Fourth Crusade of 1204 and placed on the terrace of the basilica. In 1797, Napoleon carried the quadriga off to Paris but in 1815 the horses were returned to Venice. Due to the effects of atmospheric pollution, the original quadriga was retired to a museum and replaced with a replica in the 1980s.
Among the most significant full-size free-standing sculptures of quadrigas are the following:
- The Berlin Quadriga is probably the most most famous in the world. It was designed by Johann Gottfried Schadow in 1793 as the Quadriga of Victory, as a symbol of peace (represented by the olive wreath carried by Victory). Located atop the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, it was looted by Napoleon in 1806, and returned to Berlin in 1814. Her olive wreath was subsequently replaced by an Iron Cross. The statue suffered severe damage during the Second World War and the association of the Iron Cross with Prussian militarism convinced the Communist government of East Germany to remove this aspect of the statue after the war. The quadriga was not restored to its original state until German reunification in 1990.
- The Wellington Arch Quadriga is situated atop the Wellington Arch in London, England. It was designed by Adrian Jones in 1912. The scupture shows a small boy (actually the son of Lord Michelham , the man who funded the sculpture) leading the quadriga, with Peace descending upon it from heaven.
- The Carrousel Quadriga is situated atop the Arc de Triomphe du Carrousel in Paris, France. The arch itself was built to commemorate the victories of Napoleon, but the quadriga was sculpted by Baron François Joseph Bosio to commemorate the Restoration of the Bourbons. The Restoration is represented by an allegorical goddess driving a quadriga, with gilded Victories accompanying it on each side.
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