-Leonardo da Vinci’s Horse

Leonardo da Vinci’s Sforza Monument Horse: The Art and the Engineering. Leonardo’s Horse.

Between the Tang Dynasty painting and Muybridge’s 19th century photographs, Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) also imagined a horse in motion in the form of a sculpture. Commissioned by a Duke of Milan Lodovico Sforza to honor his father Francesco, the Sforza Monument was designed by da Vinci to be a 24 foot high sculpture of a dynamic, powerful horse, which made it the largest equestrian statue in the world (1482-1493).  Leonardo’s sculpture, the Gran Cavallo, was crafted in clay but destroyed before it could be cast in metal. Leonardo’s drawings for the sculpture still exist in England’s Windsor Castle and, thanks to Charles C. Dent’s, ’39, fascination with Leonardo’s lost horse, the sculpture now exists around the world (Allentown, Pennsylvania - Baum Art School; Milan, Italy - Racetrack, Sheridan, Wyoming - City Center, Grand Rapids, Michigan - public gardens).  Dent worked with artists to bring Leonardo’s Gran Cavallo from the original chalk drawings to the full cast sculpture. Today, the sculpture portrays an image of a powerful, spirited horse ready to march into action, bridging centuries of the horse iconography.

Lehigh University Catalog Record:



Diane Cole Ahl.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Sforza Monument Horse: The Art and the Engineering. Bethlehem, PA: Lehigh University Press, 1995.

Jean Fritz and Hudson Talbott.
Leonardo’s Horse.
New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2001.