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Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519)

A political allegory c.1495

RCIN 912496

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This elaborate drawing was probably executed for the amusement of Leonardo’s employer, Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. In 1494 the foreign policy of Pope Alexander VI had crumbled before the army of King Charles VIII of France, who had marched through Italy to claim the crown of Naples. Sforza duly abandoned an alliance with Alexander and realigned himself with Charles VIII. Here the wolf represents the Pope, piloting the Ship of the Church towards the glorious King of France.