Artist - Vinci (Firenze) 15/04/1452 - Amboise 02/05/1519
This genius from the Italian Renaissance embodied the universalist spirit of his time by applying his talent to the most disparate fields of art and knowledge.
Painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, anatomist, literary expert, musician and inventor, he is considered one of the greatest geniuses of all time.
The story of how this Tuscan prodigy came to Milan, the city of Ludovico il Moro where he spent almost 20 years, the longest period of his life, could come straight from the pages of a novel. Vasari recounts how the eclectic Leonardo came to Milan to participate in a contest for musicians. He defeated the other contestants using a silver lyre shaped like a horse’s skull. The unusual shape of the instrument, which Leonardo built himself, produced a superior, more harmonious sound than all the others. His output was rich and complex during his long stay in Milan, where he painted two of his most renowned works, The Last Supper (L’Ultima Cena) in the refectory of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, and the Lady with an Ermine (Dama con l’Ermellino). He also created two codexes that are still preserved in the city: the Codex Atlanticus (Atlantic Code) and the Codex Trivulzianus. The urban studies he conducted during the times of the plague in Milan are still highly significant.
His work led him to draw up plans for an ideal city that addressed the problems and needs of its inhabitants through the construction of a water system, waterways and above all canals.
The project can still be appreciated even by today’s generations.
On September 10th, 1999, the San Siro Hippodrome hosted the inauguration of the Leonardo’s Horse monument. The sculpture, a full 7 meters tall, is the work of the Japanese sculptress Nina Amaku and was cast near New York. Based on his drawings. It reproduces the large horse conceived and molded in clay by Leonardo for the monument to Francesco Sforza in Milan.
It was destroyed by French soldiers on September 10th, 1499, in the courtyard of the Corte Vecchia (Old Court), now the site of the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace).
A detailed note survives from 1452, written by Antonio da Vinci, Leonardo’s grandfather, on the birth of his grandson: “My grandson was born, son of my son Pietro, on April 15th, a Saturday, at three o’clock at night. His name is Leonardo.”