The wooden horse and rider in the museum at San Cassiano is not just any horse. The sculpture has been attributed to Jacopo della Quercia. He was an early Renaissance artist from Querciagrossa, near Siena. He became a resident of Lucca when his family moved there.
He was in the contest to design the Doors of Paradise at the Baptistery in Florence, but lost out to Ghiberto. One of his most famous works is the exquisite sarcophagus of Ilaria in the cathedral in Lucca.
On a recent trip to San Cassiano I was delighted to find the museum open. It is housed in the Oratory opposite the church.
Up close the wooden carving is beautiful. In 1909 it was found in a state of considerable neglect. It was restored in the 1920s and again in the early 1990s.
The sculpture is made up of 3 elements of linden wood. 2 elements make up most of the horse, while the bust of the saint is carved from a single block of wood.
Behind the horse are 2 other carvings. Both are carved from a single block of poplar wood, with the exception of some parts of the hands and the head. On the left of the altar is Archangel Gabriel and on the right The Virgin of the Annunciation.
The church was open on the day I visited as well.
The interior is stunning. It looks ancient.
The floor has been worn down by centuries of feet.
The villages of Bagni di Lucca are a treasure trove for those who go looking.