Statue Of Felipe I V # 2 - Madrid Royal Palace
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The bronze baroque statue of Felipe IV (Philip IV of Spain) stands at the centre of the Plaza de Oriente in Madrid. Though there are many bronze statues throughout the world the Statue of Felipe IV in Madrid is unique as it is both a masterpiece of the arts and mathematics. For its construction the statue required two geniuses of the era; Diego Velázquez and Galileo, the father of modern Science. The statue was commission by Felipe IV (1605 –1665) the then king of Spain, to stand in the centre of the newly created Parque del Retiro park.
The statue was based upon a painting by the Spanish royal court’s artist Diego Velázquez. The complication with Velázquez image was that the horse was rearing up as if in a battle charge requiring the entire weight of the statue through the rear legs. This was a unique stance for an equestrian statue constructed from the relatively weak metal bronze.
In our present day we are used to vast monuments constructed around a steel structure but in the 17th century this statue was considered impossible by many. The dimensions of the statue required a frame that weighed 9 tonnes all supported by the off centered rear legs. The revolutionary sculptor Pietro Tacca concluded that the statue would possible but it required the mathematical genius of Galileo to perform the exact calculations to prevent the statue toppling on itself.
The original calculations and hand draw designs penned by Galileo are still in existence and on display in Italy. The solution that keeps the Statue of Felipe IV upright is by position of the centre of gravity as far back as possible. There statue is constructed from two distinct sections; the rear of the horse is solid bronze with the majority of the weight while the front is hollow.
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February 17th, 2020
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