Ghostly Sounds in the Corte del Cavallo

The equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni, by Verrocchio and Leopardi, Venice
Tucked away in a distant corner of Venice is the Corte del Cavallo and if you find yourself there on the evening of March 21st, you may hear something strange. 

The small and secluded corte is named after the horse (cavallo) which, for more than 500 years, has stood atop the pedestal in the Campo Santi Giovanni e Paolo, bearing on its back the grim-faced condottiere, Bartolomeo Colleoni. 
The equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni, by Verrocchio and Leopardi, Venice
During the latter part of the 15th century, the corte was the site of the home and workshop of the sculptor Alessandro Leopardi (c.1466-1512), who came to be known as Alessandro del Cavallo, on account of the fame he acquired for the part he played in creating the statue.
The equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni, by Verrocchio and Leopardi, Venice
The commission for the equestrian statue had been given to the Florentine sculptor, Andrea del Verrocchio, but Andrea had died having made no more than the clay models of rider and horse. The master sculptor had expressly asked, in his last will and testament, that his pupil, Lorenzo di Credi, be allowed to bring the work to fruition. The authorities, however, paid no heed to his request and commissioned native-born sculptor, Alessandro Leopardi, to cast the models into bronze.
The inscription of Leopardi's name on the equestrian statue of Bartolomeo Colleoni in Venice
Leopardi readily took on the job and not only did he cast the models of Colleoni and his trusty steed, he also created the tall marble pedestal on which the pair stand. Furthermore, he had the cheek to inscribe his name on the statue (on the saddle-girth) and his name, alone!  
It is said that Leopardi came to rue the day he accepted the commission, thereby crossing the wishes of a dying man. He, himself, would die cursing both the statue and the place in which it was made. 

Ever since then, on the evening of March 21st (the anniversary of the day the statue was first revealed to the public), a strange sound may be heard in the Corte del Cavallo, that of the muffled or distorted whinnying of a horse.


  1. Dear Mr Lown, I am a fellow art historian and just in the last minute frenzy of ordering images for an article I am about to publish. I would so much like to use one of your beautiful photos of the Colleoni - how can I get in touch with you? Here is my e-mail:
    Please help and thank you so much in advance!


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