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Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

A horse's left foreleg, with measurements c.1490-92

RCIN 912294

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A study of the near foreleg and shoulder of a horse, in profile to the left, the leg raised and bent, the hoof upturned; divided into sections with measurements below; with two notes. Melzi's 41.

Most of Leonardo's measured drawings of horses show the animal standing with all legs straight, but a few study in detail the dimensions of the raised left foreleg. This was the intended final form of the equestrian monument commissioned from Leonardo by Ludovico Sforza, the ruler of Milan, to commemorate his father Francesco. Leonardo uses as his unit the horse's head divided into sixteenths. The note at the top of the sheet identifies the horse measured as a Sicilian belonging to Galeazzo Sanseverino, the Captain-General of the Milanese army. The Sicilian is still an admired cavalry horse: it appears in several of Leonardo’s measured studies, and was probably the breed intended for the Sforza monument.

Text adapted from Leonardo da Vinci: A life in drawing, London, 2018