One of the main symbols of St. Petersburg - the equestrian monument to Peter I was named the Bronze Horseman thanks to the famous poem by A.S. Pushkin.
This monument was created according to the idea of Catherine II. Little-known Etienne Falcone was invited as a sculptor, he was advised to Queen Voltaire and Diderot, stone blocks, however, artistic expression was lost. Semyon Grigorievich Vishnyakov, a professional carpenter, provided invaluable assistance to the sculptor.
The project of the monument was developed quickly, but finding a suitable block for the pedestal became a big problem. For a time, Falcone intended to make it a composite of several stonemasons. At one time, he himself wanted to use a huge lump split by lightning, which was popularly called the "Thunder Stone". However, he did not have a suitable instrument, but it fits Falcone perfectly.
Delivery of the stone became a significant problem, because it weighed 1, 600 tons, and the nearest town was 12 miles away, so wooden gutters with 30 bronze balls had to be erected. The work proceeded slowly, overland transportation took more than four months. They started on November 15, 1769, and reached the port on March 27, 1770. Until the fall, a special ship was built, which on September 26, 1770 transported the "Thunder-stone" to St. Petersburg. Such a grandiose operation was worthy of an award, in honor of which a medal was made entitled "Like daring."
The next task was to find a suitable horse for posing. Only in the stables of Count Orlov, among his excellent horses, there were two beautiful stallions named Brilliant and Caprice.
To create a portrait resemblance, Etienne Falcone used a death plaster mask and a wax figure of Peter I. The sculptor's 20-year-old student, Marie-Anne Collot, sculpted the imperial head. Fyodor Gordeev was engaged in the snake. The final casting of the statue was completed in 1778.
In the same year, Falcone left Russia, as he fell out of favor with the Empress. The final revision of the statue was carried out by Yu.M. Felten.
The Bronze Horseman was discovered on August 7, 1782. On the pedestal there is an inscription "to Peter the Great, Catherine the Second, summer of 1782". On the other hand, it's the same in Italian. As conceived by the empress, this showed the continuity between the creative activity of Peter I and her deeds.