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A significant number of horse statues in Washington, D.C. and in London, England, do not follow these alleged protocols regarding leg location on a horse statue. The U.S. and the U.K. are the two countries in which the contentions about horse leg statue positions are most prevalent.
I have heard that the number of legs a horse has in the air in a statue indicates how the rider died. According to what I have understood: 2 legs in the air: rider died in battle 1 leg in the air:...
Horse Statue Meaning of Legs Raised December 24, 2013 araho If a statue depicting a person on a horse with both front legs in the air, the person died in a battle.
Similar sculptures have survived in small scale: The Wax Horse and Rider (c.1506–08) is a fragmentary model for an equestrian statue of Charles d'Amboise. The Rearing Horse and Mounted Warrior in bronze was also attributed to Leonardo.
On a statue of a horse and rider, the number of legs in the air reveals information about how the rider died: both legs in the air means they died during a battle, one leg in the air means they died later of wounds inflicted during a battle.
Winchester’s raised leg symbolizes his rider was wounded in battle (the legs of [General Ulysses S.] Grant’s horse [as seen in another Chicago statue] are on the ground, meaning he was not wounded).”
As Brian Sniatkowski has already pointed out, the number of legs raised from the ground in equestrian statues has no particular meaning, and simply indicates that the artist (or their commissioner) preferred the horse to be posed that way.
Upon examination, local lore appears to have something going for it. Ah, but appearances are deceiving. The equestrian statues of Lee, facing south, and Jackson, facing north, do fit the formula, and the horse of Stuart, who was mortally wounded at Yellow Tavern in 1864, faces north. The heads of Stuart, Davis, and Matthew Fontaine Maury face east.
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