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About DaVinci's Horse

Posted by Karen on Sun 20th of November 2005

Note: Photos of Leonardo da Vinci?s Horse are
Leonardo da Vinci's Horse, Inc. and used with permission from the Da Vinci Discovery Center of Science & Technology.

In 1482, Leonardo da Vinci wrote an ambitious proposal to Lodovico Sforza, the powerful Duke of Milan. In addition to offering his skills as civil engineer, architect, bridge-builder and designer of futuristic military weaponry to empower and protect Milan's soldiers against the threat of French conquest, da Vinci proposed the casting of an enormous bronze statue of a horse -- the *Il Cavallo* -- to stand guard over the Duke's castle and honor his father, Francesco Sforza. Lodovico, one of the most powerful leaders of Renaissance Italy, who spent astonishing amounts of money to advance the arts and sciences, employed da Vinci and became his most influential patron.

While da Vinci maintained his studio, oversaw the work of his apprentices, and worked on painting The Last Supper, the 24-foot-tall clay version of the great horse took shape in a vineyard near the Duke's castle. Seventy tons of bronze were set aside for the casting, but when war with Charles VIII of France appeared imminent, this resource was diverted for weapons, and The Horse maintained his vigil in clay.

In 1499 Milan fell without a fight, and victorious French archers used the clay horse for target practice -- reducing it to a pile of rubble. Da Vinci was heartbroken.

Sketches of the Il Cavallo were discovered centuries after da Vinci's death, and when Pennsylvanian and retired airline pilot Charles C. Dent learned about the story, he founded LDVHI -- Leonardo da Vinci's Horse, Inc., a non-profit organization devoted to finishing the artist's dream and bringing his Horse to life.

Five centuries after the clay Horse was destroyed, LDVHI unveiled the 24-foot-tall bronze beauty, Leonardo's Horse, in Milan. A month later, a second casting known as the American Horse was unveiled in the Frederik Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan, along with a Sculpture Education Center. Donors from all 50 of the United States financed Leonardo's Horse, considered by LDVHI to be a gift of thanks for the many ways in which the Italian Renaissance awakened and beautified the world.

To learn more about (or to visit) Il Cavallo in Milan, and the American Horse in Grand Rapids, go to www.davinci-center.org or www.meijergardens.org). You will be forever changed.

Copyright 2005 The Integral Horse



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