Bartolomeo Colleoni (1400-1475) was, starting in 1454, an Italian general in chief for the Venetian Republic for

Bartolomeo Colleoni

Life--an especially important role as pioneer for field artillery tactics. Colleoni's common strategy was to plant light field pieces in the rear of the calvary, to be set off in predetermined spaces of the forward units. Verrocchio's statue of Colleoni on horseback commemorates his honorable service in the military and is considered a major work of art in Italy. Colleoni himself was also an art patron.

Significance to StevensEdit

In The Necessary Angel, Stevens wrote of many images of nobility and highlighted Verrocchio's equestrian statue of Colleoni in Venice as a prime example of masculinity, going against other mighty figures like "a pair of winged horses and a charioteer" in Plato's Phaedrus, Cervantes 's Don Quixote, General Andrew Jackson in front of the White House, and the rider in Reginald Marsh's Wooden Horse (Holander 95-97): [1]Verrocchio's equestrian statue of Bartolomeo ColleoniAdded by TheTaffy"I have selected him because there, on the edge of the world in which we live today, he established a form of such nobility that is has never ceased to magnify us in our own eyes. It is like the form of an invincible man, who has come, slowly and boldly, through every warlike opposition of the past and who moves in our midst without dropping the bridle of the powerful horse from his hand, without taking off his helmet and without relaxing the attitude of a warrior of noble origin. What man on whose side the horseman fought could ever be anything but fearless, anything but indomitable? ... It seems, nowadays, what it may very well not have seemed a few years ago, a little overpowering, a little magnificent" (Stevens 8).

Stevens's perception of Verrocchio's Colleoni is almost too grand; it does not have enough realism to it (Holander 95). Compared to Cervantes's work that balances imagination and reality, Verrocchio's vision is genius--but too ideal: "With Cervantes, nobility was not a thing of the imagination. It was a part of reality, it was something that exists in life, something so true to us that it is in danger of ceasing to exist, if we isolate it, something in the mind of a precarious nature. These may be words. Certainly, however, Cervantes sought to set right the balance between the imagination and the reality" (Stevens 9-10). Verrocchio, in Stevens's mind, had lost sight of "the base."

Sources and Further ReadingEdit

Colleoni's Encylopedia Britannica entry

Wallace Stevens and the Reality of Poetic Language, by Stefan Holander

The Necessary Angel