Curated by Lorenza Camin and Fabrizio Paolucci and hosted in the 18th century Limonaia in the Boboli Garden in Florence from 26 June to 14 October, the exhibition Men and horses sets out to explore this age-old bond through a selection of items, often overlooked in exhibitions to the benefit of more eye-catching works, illustrating the myriad facets of a relationship that impacted every aspect of daily life.
Tools required to master the beast (bits, snaffle bits, spurs, stirrups and so forth) are showcased alongside works of art selected to illustrate, as directly and as realistically as possible, the leading role played by the horse in the ancient world. The circa 100 items on display, from dozens of Italian and foreign museums, cover a period of over 2,000 years stretching from the Early Iron Age to the later Middle Ages.
The numerous items on public display for the very first time include the Populonia Gig. This extremely rare example of an Etruscan carriage, discovered in the so-called “Fossa della Biga” (or “Two-Horse Chariot Ditch”) in the mid-20th century, has been reassembled following recent restoration commisssioned expressly for this exhibition. The gig, in wood, iron and bronze and dateable to the early 5th century BC, was a slow vehicle used to carry personalities of rank and for wedding processions and funeral corteges.
The relationship between man and horse is perfectly encapsulated in the Attic red-figure kylix depicting Athena and the Trojan Horse now in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Firenze. The inner bowl of the cup, painted by the Sabouroff Painter who worked from 470–460 to 440–430 BC, shows the goddess Athena enthroned, stroking a horse of epic proportions who sports the tainiai niketeriai or red woollen bands signifying victory. Most scholars agree that this must therefore be a depiction of Athena with the Trojan Horse, a symbol of the strategem devised by the goddess herself which gave the Achaian (Greek) side victory in the war.
The Men and the Horses – Limonia of the Boboli Garden – From 26 June To 14 October 2018, Monday – Sunday, from 8.15 am to 7.30 pm (June, July, August); from 8.15 am to 6.30 pm (September, October); closed first and last Monday of the month. Admission 10 Euros, 5 Euros for EU citizens aged 18 to 25,