“Milano, you must know, is now the most affluent and bounteous city in Italy (…) The Milanese in all things they do are keen on living well, rather than on appearing (…) and to all foreigners, they are very courteous and are very happy to see them” Matteo Bandello, Novella VIII
IT’S A MATCH!
Leonardo and Milano
Leonardo and Milano were meant to cross paths. On the one hand, we have a multitalented artist, futuristic engineer and master of ceremonies, an accomplished painter, architect and musician. On the other, a growing city finally at peace. Its population numbered around 200 thousand and its court during the Renaissance was at the same level as that of Florence, able to attract talented people and set fashion trends and customs throughout Europe.
Only a few people know that Leonardo spent the longest and most prolific part of his life in Milano. It was his adopted hometown. What better place for a talented thirty-year-old man, schooled in Florence and now seeking fortune, prestige and a place to freely express his creativity?
In the city of Milano, Leonardo found a thriving commercial hub with a penchant for innovation. The established artistic tradition was Gothic and the Renaissance was bringing in a new style. There was a network of canals in constant development, and borders to protect - but expansion outside the walls was the main objective. There was also a Court to be amazed with extravagant pageants and two large building sites - the Castello Sforzesco and the Duomo Cathedral with its cupola needing to be completed.
He arrived in the city carrying a silver lyre-shaped like a horse's skull in his apprentice's bag. He’d designed it himself and could play it magnificently: the instrument was a gift for the Duke of Milano, Ludovico Maria Sforza. At the age of 30 - just like Leonardo - the Duke was a military leader and patron of artists and scientists, and he was transforming his court-fortress into an icon of style: the two men openly shared a passion for things at once beautiful and useful.