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Golden Carousel

Golden Carousel
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From the travelling circuses of the Middle Ages to today's huge theme parks, carousel have always drawn a crowd and excited both young and old. From the first equestrian tournaments with their rows of knights and sumptuous carriages, to the fairground carousels with wooden horses glittering with colour and light, everything was spectacle and dazzle. The carousel's origins can be traced back to a game inspired by combat training in the Middle Ages: ring piercing. In this competition, the rider had to pierce a small copper ring dangled from a pole or bracket with his sword or lance. This game probably provided the inspiration for the carousel with the wooden horses that we know today.

Caught between a time of tradition and the modern age, the golden age of country fairs occurred between 1880 and 1930, and coincided with the arrival of the industrial revolution at the beginning of the 20th century. Now, travelling shows offered more interesting and more elaborate presentations both in decorative arts and in fine art. Ride-type attractions of this period, which were now available to all social classes and all ages, were imaginative, original and aesthetic. Members of the travelling art community displayed the high quality of their workmanship in this golden age. Everyone, expert or not, could appreciate the exceptional work of these sculptors of animals. The real-life rendering of many of the menageries combined with the superb quality of the sculpting could reveal the smallest anatomical detail of a hoof and shoes, or the facial veins of the horse. French carousel horses were distinguishable by their quiet appearance, and their coats were often white. Harnesses were exactly like those used at the time of the golden age, such as a classic flat saddle and a saddle blanket covering part of the hind quarters. The rear legs were a little short and the heads a little large, resembling small trotting horses.


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