Leonardo da Vinci

Milanese underwhelmed by realisation of Leonardo’s dream

Nina Amaku's rendition of 'Il Cavalo' is relegated to the racetrack

In 1482, Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to erect a bronze equestrian monument to an Italian general, Francesco Lodovico Sforza of Milan. Leonardo eventually unveiled a clay model of the horse—three times life size. “Il Cavallo” was to be cast in a single pour of molten bronze, in order to eliminate any seams, but was never completed because the bronze set aside for the cast was used to make cannons for the Sforza army. The model was destroyed in 1499 by invading French archers and Leonardo’s technical notes and sketches were dispersed after his death. The grand idea was taken up by American collector Charles Dent in 1977 and interpreted by a sculptor, Nina Amaku, last year. A fifteen-ton, ten-metres-tall horse has been constructed, (in sixty parts, rather than one and without the rider) by engineers from Tallix Art Foundry. Three casts of the modern version of “Il Cavallo” were recently unveiled: one in the Frederik Meijer Sculpture Gardens in Grand Rapids, Michigan (because the Meijer family were instrumental in the funding of the project) one in front of Cooper Union in New York, and one in Milan, to commemorate its intended location. The third has been presented to the city of Milan, which has denied the statue pride of place in the famous Sforza Castle and placed it next to the city racetrack. When leading Milanese art historian, Carlo Bertelli, was asked whether he had seen it, he said: “I have no interest in racing, so I am unlikely ever to set eyes on it”