Sculptures and studies to sculptures
by LEONARDO da Vinci

The patron of the arts Ludovico Sforza (1452-1508), known as "Il Moro", had after the murder of his elder brother Galeazzo Maria Sforza (1444-1476), the rightful heir of the founder of the ruling dynasty, become the guardian of the latter's son and in that way seized power over Milan in 1480. Like his brother before him, Ludovico wanted to justify his rulership by donating an equestrian monument in honour of his father Francesco Sforza.

Leonardo was probably commissioned to produce the monument in 1485 and worked on it until 1499, when the French invasion of Milan spelled the permanent end of the project. His first design for the monument dating from the mid-1480s shows a rearing horse with a dynamic rider, under whose front hooves a conquered soldier lies. This motif was not merely a reference to the taking over of power in Milan, but was principally an envisualization of the name of Sforza, which roughly translates as "force". Enormous technical problems delayed the completion of the project. The full-scale model of the horse in clay was unveiled in November 1493 in the courtyard of the Milan fortress. In 1499, the French occupying forces destroyed the model.

During his second period in Milan, in about 1510, Leonardo produced designs for a second equestrian monument that was also not constructed: it was the funeral monument for Marshal Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, who was in the service of the French. A group of horse drawings dated to the last three years of Leonardo's life suggest that François I also asked Leonardo to design an equestrian monument, though no trace of such a commission has remained in other documents.

Preview Picture Data File Info Comment
Equestrian Statue
1516-19
Bronze, 24,3 cm
Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest

690*702
True Color
79 Kb



Equestrian Statue
1516-19
Bronze, 24,3 cm
Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest

634*714
True Color
68 Kb



Equestrian Statue
1516-19
Bronze, 24,3 cm
Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest

697*790
True Color
79 Kb



Equestrian Statue (detail)
1516-19
Bronze
Szépmûvészeti Múzeum, Budapest

685*852
True Color
93 Kb



Manuscript page on the Sforza monument
c. 1493
Pen and ink on paper, 21 x 15 cm
Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid

750*1083
True Color
84 Kb



Study for the Sforza monument
1488-89
Metalpoint on bluish prepared paper
Royal Library, Windsor

1027*812
True Color
119 Kb



Double manuscript page on the Sforza monument
c. 1493
Red chalk on paper, 21 x 30 cm
Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid

1008*798
True Color
107 Kb



The Ermine Hunt
c. 1494
Pen and brown ink over traces of black chalk on paper, diameter 91 mm
Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge

505*500
True Color
35 Kb



Study for the Trivulzio Equestrian Monument
1508-10
Pen and ink on paper, 280 x 198 mm
Royal Library, Windsor

702*1006
True Color
122 Kb



Study for the Trivulzio monument
1508-12
Pen, ink and red chalk on paper, 217 x 169 mm
Royal Library, Windsor

702*880
True Color
62 Kb



Equestrian monument
1517-18
Black chalk on paper, 278 x 184 mm
Royal Library, Windsor

770*1101
True Color
112 Kb



Bust of Flora
1510s
Wax, height 67,5 cm
Staatliche Museen, Berlin

762*956
True Color
86 Kb




Summary of works by Leonardo
Paintings
early work | in the 1480s | in the 1490s | late work | copies
Studies to paintings
Battle of Anghiari | studies (1) | studies (2) | heads | various
Other studies
anatomy | nature | engineering | maps | architecture | sculpture