Stealing bits of Roman statues in the Middle Ages


During the Templar period, the patron saint of Venice wasn’t Saint Mark but Saint Theodore of Amasea. He was one of those martyrs during the Roman period. His statue was placed on top of a pillar in what is now Saint Mark’s square but the original medieval statue – now removed to a museum – was actually cobbled together from bits of Roman statuary. This wasn’t an uncommon practice and given that the saint was high up on a pillar, nobody would have noticed the odd artistic arrangement.

saint theodore

That head and that bust and that halo never sat together originally

A loose connection between body parts

A loose connection between body parts

The shield isn't even the same colour as the arm or the torso

The shield isn’t even the same colour as the arm or the torso

Saint Theodore

Got a feeling that dragon was added later

I photo’d this on my trip to Venice last year and found it quite amusing. The torso is clearly a Roman emperor wearing decorative military armour. The head doesn’t fit but is also Roman – possibly the ancient king Mithridates of Pontus. The legs, however, do look medieval. Somehow, the ensemble seems to work.

Venice is full of these slung together bits of Roman artwork put to the service of medieval buildings – Saint Mark’s cathedral is a right hodge podge including items stolen by the crusaders from Constantinople during the Fourth Crusade.

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