National Geographic : 1915 Jun
THE CELEBRATED BRONZE HORSES OF ST. MARK'S, WHICH, SINCE THE BEGINNING OF THE PRESENT WAR BETWEEN ITALY AND AUSTRIA, HAVE BEEN REMOVED FROM VENICE, SO AS TO BE SAFE FROM AVIATOR AND CANNON No small part of the world's history is connected with the four magnificent bronze horses which stand over the main portal of St. Mark's. It is said to be almost certain that once they adorned the triumphal arch of Nero, from which they were removed to adorn those of Trajan and subsequent emperors. When Constantine founded Constantinople he took them to adorn the hippodrome of his New Rome, from whence they were carried from Venice and placed in their present position. There they remained until 1797, when Napoleon took them to Paris to adorn his triumphal arch in the Place de Carrousel. In 1815 the Austrians, to whom Venice was assigned, restored them to St. Mark's. As one views St. Mark's main facade across the piazza, he feels with Ruskin: "It is a confusion of delight, amidst which the breasts of the Greek horses are seen blazing in their breadth of golden strength, and the St. Mark's Lion, lifted on a blue field covered with stars, until at last, as if in ecstacy, the press of the arches break into a marble foam, and toss themselves far into the blue sky in flashes and wreaths of sculptured spray, as if the breakers on the Lido shore had been frost bound before they fell, and the sea nymphs had inlaid them with coral and amethyst. Be tween that grim cathedral of England and this, what an interval! There is a type of it in the birds that haunt them; for, instead of the restless crowd, hoarse-voiced and sable-winged, drifting on the bleak upper air, the St. Mark's porches are full of doves that nestle among the marble foliage, and mingle the soft iridescence of their living plumes, changing at every motion of the tints, hardly less lovely, that has stood unchanged for 700 years."