Leonardo's horse is a sculpture never completed by Leonardo da Vinci, which he managed to complete only a model in clay. Since the 1970s, two reproductions have been created.
In 1482 the Duke of Milan Ludovico il Moro proposed to Leonardo to build the largest equestrian statue in the world, a monument to his father Francesco. Leonardo accomplished only a clay model that was destroyed by French soldiers that invaded Milan in 1499.
In 1977, Charles Dent began work to complete the unfinished sculpture in Allentown, PA. His efforts to set up the organization to finance the project, however, proved a difficult task that required more than 15 years. The cost of the horse came to nearly US$2.5 million, but Charles Dent died of Lou Gehrig's disease on Christmas day of 1994, he left his private art collection to LDVHI(Leonardo da Vinci's Horse, Inc.), and its sale brought more than $1 million to the fund. In 1988, LDVHI enlisted sculptor/painter Garth Herrick to begin part-time work on the horse. By 1997, Tallix Art Foundry, in Beacon, New York, the company contracted by LDVHI to cast the horse, had suggested bringing Nina Akamu, a talented animal sculptor, on board to attempt to correct the anatomical faults of the Dent-Herrick horse. After several months of trying, Akamu determined that the original model could not be salvaged and concluded that a completely new sculpture needed to be executed. During the 17 years that Leonardo had worked on the horse, he had made numerous small sketches of horses to help illustrate his notes about the complex procedures for molding and casting the horse. But his notes were far from systematic, and none of the sketches points to the final position of the horse. The absence of a single definitive drawing of the statue left the 20th-century artist some latitude for interpretation. Akamu researched multiple information sources to gain insight into the original sculptor's intentions. She studied both Leonardo's notes and drawings of the horse and those of other projects he was working on. She reviewed his thoughts on anatomy, painting, sculpture and natural phenomena. Her research expanded to include the teachers who had influenced Leonardo. Akamu also studied Iberian horse breeds, such as the Andalusian, which were favored by the Sforza stables in the late 15th century. In September 1999, the 24 feet (about 7.3 metres) tall horse was placed at the hippodrome de San Siro in Milan.
Two copies of the horse were constructed, at least one with the money of billionaire Frederik Meijer. This second sculpture is now visible in Meijer's garden, a natural park in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Another copy of the horse has been placed in downtown Allentown, PA's Community Art Park adjacent to the Baum School of Art in honor of Charles Dent. It is smaller (twelve feet) bronze replica of the two larger statues.
A fourth (eight feet) bronze replica has been installed on 15th September 2001 in the Piazza della Libertà, Vinci, Italy - the birth town of Leonardo.
A 24-foot-high recreation of the Sforza horse, based on different design interpretation was manufactured by the Opera Laboratori Fiorentini S.p.A., in collaboration with Polo Museale Fiorentino and the Institute and Museum of the History of Science in Florence, Italy. It is made of steel frame with special resin coated fibreglass, to make it look like bronze. It is made of six pieces and can be transported and re-assembled. It has been at display at various locations during exhibitions on Leonardo. Some of these are;
- "The Mind of Leonardo" at the Museum of Modern Art, Debrecen, Hungary. (16 August to 2 December 2007).
- "Leonardo: 500 Years into the Future" at the Tech Museum, San Jose, USA (27 September 2008 to 25 January 2009)
- "The Mind of Leonardo" at the Palazzo Venezia, Rome, Italy (1 May to 30 August 2009)
- "Leonardo da Vinci - Hand of the Genius" Sifly Piazza at the High Museum of Art in Atlanta, Georgia , (6 October 2009 to February 6, 2010).
- Vebjørn Sand Da Vinci Project
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