A wooden horse

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.

San Cassiano museum

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.

San Cassiano museum

San Cassiano museum

San Cassiano museum

San Cassiano museum

San Cassiano museum

San Cassiano museum

San Cassiano museum

 

San Cassiano museum

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.

San Cassiano museum

San Cassiano museum

The church was open on the day I visited as well.

San Cassiano church

The interior is stunning. It looks ancient.

San Cassiano church

San Cassiano church

The floor has been worn down by centuries of feet.

San Cassiano church

The villages of Bagni di Lucca are a treasure trove for those who go looking.

 

 

 

16 thoughts on “A wooden horse

    • Hi, I have another question for either you or your followers. My family last name is Nardi, they originated from Cocciglia or Scesta area. They were sculptors. Would you know of any sculpture’s that were made by them? My 2nd Great Grandmother name was Maria Luisa Santini , and 2nd Great Grandfather was Bartolomeo Nardi. Thank you so very much for your help. E Nardi

      • I don’t know, but I can make some enquiries. I will be back in Bagni di Lucca on the weekend for a while. Perhaps someone will see this and know something.

  1. Such beauty. People have been stirred to such violence and hatred by religion but religion – the churches and their artworks – offer such tranquil and wonderful contemplation don’t they. Blessed be the conservationists:)

  2. The Della Quercia statue is supposed to represent San Martino (St Martin), who cut his cape in half with his sword to give the other piece to a poor man who had no warm clothes. You can see that the cape looks unusually unevenly short. We are lucky to have all these treasures in Bagni di Lucca.

  3. Debra, Several days after you posted this, we visited the village of San Cassiano. The village, the church and this statue is stunning. Thank you! I don’t think we would have known to go wandering this way if I hadn’t read your post. The church and museum were locked, but simply by inquiring at the nearby trattoria, they offered to phone the key holder. Within a short time, we were conducted around both the church and museum. Later, had excellent pasta at the trattoria! All in all a good day out.

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