National School of Fine Arts, Paris (MU 12588). Photo: Jean-Michel Lapelerie
The condottiere Bartolomeo Colleoni was a leader of an army of mercenaries who fought in the pay of Venice. The Most Serene battled in those times against Milan, which finally signed a peace treaty in 1441. In 1448, in recognition of his services, the city granted the position of General Captain of Venice to the mercenary. At his death, the Condottiere bequeathed a portion of his fortune to the Republic of Venice, demanding in exchange a statue in his honour at the Piazza San Marco. Built by one of the most famous artists of the time, Andrea Verrocchio, the statue pays tribute to the power of the warrior. However, it was not placed at the Piazza San Marco (due to a law prohibiting it), but rather on the Campo San Giovanni e Paolo. The bronze figure is visible from the Ponte del Cavallo (the bridge of the horse) . Up close, the fine work is remarkable in the most minor details of the depictions of Colleoni’s armour and his horse tack.