A quadriga (Latin quadri-, four, and iugum, yoke) is a car or chariot drawn by four horses abreast (the Roman Empire's equivalent of Ancient Greek tethrippon). It was raced in the Ancient Olympic Games and other contests. It is represented in profile as the chariot of gods and heroes on Greek vases and in bas-relief. The quadriga was adopted in ancient Roman chariot racing. Quadrigas were emblems of triumph; Victory and Fame often are depicted as the triumphant woman driving it. In classical mythology, the quadriga is the chariot of the gods; Apollo was depicted driving his quadriga across the heavens, delivering daylight and dispersing the night.
The word quadriga may refer to the chariot alone, the four horses without it, or the combination.
Some of the most significant full-size free-standing sculptures of quadrigas include, in approximate chronological order:
- The Berlin Quadriga was designed by Johann Gottfried Schadow in 1793 as the Quadriga of Victory, perhaps as a symbol of peace (represented by the olive wreath carried by Victory). Located atop the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Germany, it was seized by Napoleon during his occupation of Berlin in 1806, and taken to Paris. It was returned to Berlin by Field Marshal Gebhard von Blücher in 1814. Her olive wreath was subsequently supplemented with 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 iron cross was restored after German reunification in 1990.
- 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. Circa 1815.
- The Quadriga on the General Staff Building on the Palace Square in Saint Petersburg, 1819–1829
- The Quadriga on the Alexandrinsky Theater, in Saint Petersburg, 1828–1832
- The Panther Quadriga on the Semperoper in Dresden, c. 1841
- The Quadriga on the Bolshoi, above the portico of the Bolshoi Theatre designed by sculptor Peter Clodt von Jürgensburg, c. 1850
- The Siegestor (Victory Gate) in Munich is topped by a lion quadriga created by Martin von Wagner, c. 1852
- The Quadriga on the ducal palace in Braunschweig was erected in 1868 and destroyed in 1944 during the Second World War. It was reconstructed in 2008 and is considered as the largest one in Europe
- Two Quadrigas on the Grand Palais in Paris, the work of French sculptor Georges Récipon, c. 1900
- Atop the Arch at Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn, New York, lady Columbia, an allegorical representation of the United States, rides in a chariot drawn by two horses. Two winged Victory figures, each leading a horse, trumpet Columbia's arrival. The sculptor was Frederick William MacMonnies, done c. 1900.
- Victory and Progress, horse-drawn chariots by J. Massey Rhind on the Wayne County Building in Detroit, Michigan, c. 1900
- The Quadriga of Brabant, situated on top from Parc du Cinquantenaire (1880–1905); built for the 50 years of Belgian Independence, in Brussels, Belgium, was built in 1905 by Thomas Vinçotte and Jules Lagae
- Progress of the State at the Minnesota State Capitol is unique for being entirely covered in gold leaf, and is situated above a building entrance rather than a triumphal arch. It was sculpted by Daniel Chester French and Edward Clark Potter and put in place in 1906.
- The Monument to Vittorio Emanuele II (Monument of Victor Emmanuel II) or Altare della Patria (Altar of the Nation) or "Il Vittoriano" in Rome, Italy features two statues of goddess Victoria riding on quadrigas. Begun 1911, completed in 1935
- The Wellington Arch Quadriga is situated atop the Wellington Arch in London, England. It was designed by Adrian Jones in 1912. The sculpture 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.
- All the above Quadrigas are magnificent displays of triumph - a trip to Alacala 16, in Madrid will introduce a commercial example of not one but two Quadrigas atop the old Banco di Bilbao headquarters, now part of the BBVA (Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria) bank - built about 1922 (Architect Ricardo Bastida, Chariot Sculptor Higinio Basterras and other sculptures by Quentin de la Torre) - the charioteers are helmeted men standing on the handrails of the chariots. Height to plinth about 87 feet (27 mtrs)
- Horses of Saint Mark in Venice, remnants of a quadriga of Constantinople taken by Enrico Dandolo.
- Biga, the ancient two-horse chariot.
- BBC News - A Point of View: The European dream has become a nightmare
- Brandenburg Gate. Berlin - Offizielles Stadtportal der Hauptstadt Deutschlands - Berlin.de.
- MNHS.ORG | Minnesota State Capitol
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