The Horse Tamers of the Anichkov Bridge in St. Petersburg
by Kristin Berkery
The newest bridge was built in 1906, but its most famous features, the horse tamer statues, were created in the mid-1800s upon the order of Tsar Nicholas I. The sculptor, Peter Clodt von Jürgensburg (known as Pyotr Karlovich Klodt in Russia), was commissioned in 1842 to create lifelike sculptures of men taming wild horses to symbolize mankind’s struggle against the elements. Two were given as gifts to the King of Naples who had them installed at the gates of the Royal Palace, and two were given to the King of Prussia, where they adorned the Royal Palace at Berlin. (The Naples statues are still standing at the Royal Palace; the German statues can now be seen at Heinrich von Kleist Park in Berlin.) In 1849-50, four additional statues were created and placed on the four corners of the Anichkov Bridge.
Interestingly, statues one and two, which were the first to be made, are shod while three and four are barefoot. You can view all four in the gallery below.
Tsar Nicholas I reportedly chose Clodt to sculpt the horses because he believed the artist “creates horses finer than any prize stallion does.” Clodt, who had a passion for horses, sculpted other well-known pieces, such as a quadriga above the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow; a memorial depicting Tsar Nicholas I on horseback that was cutting edge at the time because the horse was balanced on just two hooves; and two horse tamer statues that adorn the front of the riding stables at the Vlakhernskoye-Kuzminki estate in Moscow.