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The Battle of Anghiari

In 1503 the Florentine government commissioned Leonardo to paint a panoramic mural, some 20 metres (70 feet) wide, in the Great Council Chamber of the Palazzo della Signoria.

The painting was to celebrate the Battle of Anghiari, a historic Florentine victory over Milanese forces. Only the central portion, known as the Fight for the Standard, had been painted when Leonardo was called back to Milan in 1506; that portion was obliterated 50 years later, and is known from copies.

Leonardo prepared meticulously for the project, sketching compositional ideas, individual figures and expressions, and systematically surveying the musculature of male nudes.

Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

Recto: Cavalry skirmishes. Verso: Cavalry skirmishes

Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

Galloping and kicking horses, and a foot soldier

Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

A rearing horse

Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

A cavalcade

Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

The muscles of the shoulder, torso and leg, and a skirmish

Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

A standing male nude