Leonard da Vinci is arguably considered to be the greatest human genius of all time. As a painter, a sculptor, a writer, and an inventor, he has been unmatched throughout time. At the time of the creation, da Vinci, ever a master of multi-tasking, was also working on one of his greatest paintings.
The Italian Duke of Sforza commissioned da Vinci to sculpt the largest horse statue ever attempted. This was in 1482 when da Vinci was hard at work painting The Last Supper. He was, also, working on some minor paintings that he was commissioned to paint for many of his patrons. The horse was to be made of bronze which, at the time, was an untried method. Leonardo began with a clay model statue of the horse, which was twenty-four feet high, and took up a huge part of the Duke’s backyard.
Tragedy struck the model, and da Vinci’s vision, in September of 1499. French soldiers marched into Milan and were far from impressed with Leonardo’s clay statue. As a matter of fact, they blasted it with arrows until it was little more than an unrecognizable heap. Totally dejected, da Vinci did not even try to recreate the horse and he died in 1519 without another attempt.
Enter Charles C. Dent, a retired pilot, who decided to resurrect the great vision in 1977 after he read an article on da Vinci and the horse. Dent spent many years trying to recreate da Vinci’s statue. It became an official project in 1982 and Dent hoped to gift it to the Italian people as a symbol of peace, hope, and friendship between the two nations.
After years of fundraising and studying da Vinci’s plans, the horse was completed and presented to the city of Milan in September of 1999.
Source: Da Vinci Science Center