''It will be the largest equestrian statue in the world'': thus declared Leonardo da Vinci to his patron Galeazzo Maria Sforza, who commissioned the famous maestro to create the sculpture in honour of his ancestor, Francesco Sforza.
When Galeazzo Maria then died, it was his brother Ludovico Sforza who carried forward the ambitious project with da Vinci’s genius. But the fate of the equestrian statue was troubled, as were the unrests under the rule of Charles VIII and the related social turmoil, thwarting Leonardo from continuing the project. Nevertheless, the Maestro refused to surrender and attempted to resume the piece but all hopes of completing the work vanished completely with the fall of Ludovico il Moro in 1499. Leonardo left Milan and the clay model of the horse was destroyed by French soldiers who had adopted it as target practice for their crossbows. The so-called Leonardo's Horse, therefore, was never actually completed by da Vinci but served as inspiration for Charles Dent, a former American airline pilot who, after reading an article about it a respected magazine, began to raise the necessary funds for the costly fusion.
But, unfortunately, even he only managed to make a model of it. He passed away in 1994 and so never saw his idea taking shape, it was only completed in 1999 under the guidance of the sculptor Nina Akamu.
In order to be mounted above the marble and granite plinth where it now stands, Leonardo's horse was actually fused!
Indeed Nika Akamu had to first cast the horse’s shape into separate pieces and then re-join them. This finished work can now be admired in front of the Ippodromo in Milan. If you’re at the Hippodrome because you love sports, try not to get carried away with the horse racing thinking that Milan has nothing to offer you. Quite the opposite! Click here to discover all the places where you can play sports in Milan; you might be pleasantly surprised!