History : May-Jun 2019
STUDIES OF HORSES DRAWN BY LEONARDO DA VINCI CIRCA 1490, WHEN HE WAS PLANNING “IL GRAN CAVALLO.” COLLECTION OF THE ROYAL LIBRARY, WINDSOR CASTLE, WINDSOR, ENGLAND PRINT COLLECTOR/ALBUM LEONARDO’S LAST MASTERPIECE CENTURIES IN THE MAKING A t the request of Ludovico Sforza, the fu- ture Duke of Milan, in 1482 Leonardo da Vinci began working on a sculpture that would be the largest equestrian statue in the world. Leonardo made a clay model that stood 24 feet high and planned to cast it in bronze. In 1499, however, war engulfed Milan, and the clay horse was destroyed. Leonardo’s drawings and plans survived, but the artist died before “Il Gran Cavallo” could be built. Roughly five hundred years later, inspired by a 1977 National Geographic article, “The Horse That Never Was,” American art patron Charles C. Dent made it his life’s work to erect the statue. Following Dent’s death in 1994, sculptor Nina Akamu carried out Leonardo’s plans and in 1999 completed a full- size bronze sculpture of the horse (left), which now stands in Milan, Italy. Five replicas of this version are also on display in museums worldwide.