A large bronze statue of a horse, inspired by the drawings of Leonardo, can be found in the park in front of the Hippodrome of Milan. The work was placed here in 1999 on a granite and marble structure that gives visibility and exposure to the statue and ensures that visitors can admire it against the splendid backdrop of the Art Nouveau architecture of the Hippodrome.
The importance of this work is the fact that Leonardo was willing to make the largest equestrian statue in the world, a challenging task within which he intended to combine artistic talent with the technical knowledge of the period.
Galeazzo Maria Sforza had the idea of producing this work to celebrate the enterprises of Francesco Sforza and he decided to make a life-size statue of a horse to be placed inside the Castello Sforzesco, or in some other important place in the city.
He contacted several artists but the project was not able to take off. The idea was then taken up again by his brother Louis in the early years of his rule in Milan. Around 1483 Leonardo began to be interested in the project and he made some drawings.
According to scholars Leonardo made a model of the statue but never actually cast it. Then several historical events intervened including the invasion of Italy by Charles VIII of France and the relative social problems which prevented the continuation of the project.
Leonardo, however, did not give up and tried to resume the work but hopes of completing the work vanished completely in 1499 with the fall of Moro and Leonardo left Milan. The model of the horse was actually destroyed by French soldiers who had chosen it as their target for their crossbows.
The idea to take up Leonardo’s came to Charles Dent a former U.S. airline pilot who, after reading an article in an authoritative journal, began to collect the necessary funds for expensive casting of the horse but succeeded only in making a model involving a committee of experts who worked to interpret the original drawings by Leonardo.
His death in 1994 meant that the idea was left uncompleted. The project finally took shape in 1999 when, under the guidance of the sculptor Nina Akamu, the horse was cast in separate pieces and then fused.