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  • The drawings

Studies of a horse


RCIN 912303

A study of the front quarters of a horse, with the off fore-leg raised and bent back; with the letters a, b, c, d, m indicating the action of the horse; with a study of a horse's chest; a study of the hind-quarters of a horse; with a note, in the top left corrner.

Late in life Leonardo planned a third equestrian monument, following on from the abandoned monument to Francesco Sforza (see RCIN 912357, 912358) and the unexecuted Trivulzio monument (RCIN 912353, 912355, 912356). The only evidence of this putative late project is a coherent group of drawings studying a rearing or pacing horse (with or without a rider) and the anatomy of the horse. All are drawn on French paper in Leonardo’s delicate late style, in black chalk occasionally reinforced with pen and ink.

Though he knew the form of the horse intimately, he felt the need to study it afresh, as he had for the early Adorations (eg. RCIN 912324, 912325), the Sforza monument, and the Battle of Anghiari (eg. RCIN 912330, 912340). Some of these are formally laid out, such as RCIN 912303, studying the chest and forelegs with the right leg raised, and the rear of the horse; comparison with the same aspect in RCIN 912290 reveals how Leonardo’s equine ideal had evolved since the Sforza horse, for the animal here is much more heavily built.

Text adapted from Leonardo da Vinci: A life in drawing, London, 2018
  • crowned Catherine wheel (partial), cf 912309, 912291, 912292

    stamp, ER VII, crowned, in oval: Lugt 901

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