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Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

A rearing horse c.1503-4

RCIN 912336

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A study of a rearing horse with its head thrown back in at least three alternative positions, and the legs drawn repeatedly to give a sense of thrashing movement. A jumble of lines indicate a rider, perhaps raising his right arm to strike a blow. Below the main drawing is a small pen sketch of a horse with its body twisted strongly backwards. Melzi's number 112.

In 1503 the Florentine government commissioned Leonardo to paint a huge mural, The Battle of Anghiari, in the Great Council Chamber of the Palazzo della Signoria. But it remained unfinished when Leonardo was called back to Milan in 1506, and was obliterated fifty years later. Leonardo prepared meticulously for the mural, drawing men and horses (and their anatomy) in a wide range of poses.

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