The Bronze Horseman
statue of Peter the Great was created by Etienne-Maurice
Falconet, 1768-82; head of Peter was designed by Falconet's
pupil and mistress, Marie Colot (model in State Russian
Museum). The inscription on the granite "wave"
under the statue, in Latin, reads: "Peter the First.
Catherine the Second. 1782." On the other side, a
similar inscription is given in Russian. Catherine II
the Great-a German princess married into the Romanov line
and placed on the throne by the royal Guards after the
death of her Romanov husband, Peter III, grandson of Peter
the Great-was anxious to proclaim her legitimacy by linking
her name to that of the founder of the Imperial Russian
capital city. It has frequently been noted that Peter
gestures to the West, the source and inspiration for his
ideas of transforming Old Russia. Peter's horse tramples
on a serpent, generally interpreted to stand for the backwardness
of Old Russia. The equestrian statue has three points
of support: the two hind legs of the horse, and the horse's
tail connecting to the serpent.