Leonardo Da Vinci
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Leonardo Da Vinci -

Artists - Vinci (Firenze) 15/04/1452 - Amboise 02/05/1519


This genius from the Italian Renaissance embodied the universalist spirit of his time by applying his talent to the most disparate fields of art and knowledge.

Painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, anatomist, literary expert, musician and inventor, he is considered one of the greatest geniuses of all time.

The story of how this Tuscan prodigy came to Milan, the city of Ludovico il Moro where he spent almost 20 years, the longest period of his life, could come straight from the pages of a novel. Vasari recounts how the eclectic

Leonardo came to Milan to participate in a contest for musicians. He defeated the other contestants using a silver lyre shaped like a horse’s skull. The unusual shape of the instrument, which Leonardo built himself, produced a superior, more harmonious sound than all the others. His output was rich and complex during his long stay in Milan, where he painted two of his most renowned works, The Last Supper (L’Ultima Cena) in the refectory of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, and the Lady with an Ermine (Dama con l’Ermellino). He also created two codexes that are still preserved in the city: the Codex Atlanticus (Atlantic Code) and the Codex Trivulzianus. The urban studies he conducted during the times of the plague in Milan are still highly significant.

His work led him to draw up plans for an ideal city that addressed the problems and needs of its inhabitants through the construction of a water system, waterways and above all canals.

The project can still be appreciated even by today’s generations.

Anecdotes and curiosities

On September 10th, 1999, the San Siro Hippodrome hosted the inauguration of the Leonardo’s Horse monument. The sculpture, a full 7 meters tall, is the work of the Japanese sculptress Nina Amaku and was cast near New York. Based on his drawings. It reproduces the large horse conceived and molded in clay by Leonardo for the monument to Francesco Sforza in Milan.

It was destroyed by French soldiers on September 10th, 1499, in the courtyard of the Corte Vecchia (Old Court), now the site of the Palazzo Reale (Royal Palace).

A detailed note survives from 1452, written by Antonio da Vinci, Leonardo’s grandfather, on the birth of his grandson: “My grandson was born, son of my son Pietro, on April 15th, a Saturday, at three o’clock at night. His name is Leonardo.”

Related places

Altarpiece for the altar of the church of San Francesco Grande;

Tiburio, Cathedral (Duomo);

The Last Supper (Cenacolo), church of Santa Maria delle Grazie;

House of Giovan Francesco Sanseverino;

Frescos in the Sala delle Asse in the Castle;

Frescos in a room of the Ponticella;

“Codex Atlanticus” (Atlantic Code), Ambrosiana Library;

Church of Santa Maria alla Fontana, via boltraffio, near Viale Zara;

Monument to Leonardo, Piazza Scala;

S. Caterina alla Ruota, built in 1618 in Via S.Barnaba, near  the Ospedale Maggiore;

Leonardo’s Horse at the San Siro Hippodrom;

Documents about Leonardo in Annuari della Fabbrica del Duomo;

Museo della Scienza e della Tecnica (Museum of Science and Technology);

Sources and documents

Bacci M., Leonardo, Milano: Fabbri Editori 1963.

Coppini Spini Silvia, Strada Ambrogio, Guida insolita ai misteri, ai segreti, alle leggende e alle curiosità di Milano, Milano: Newton & Compton Editori 2000.

Frigni Careddu Mariana, Ludovico il Moro, Milano: Editoriale Nuova 1980.

Gelb M. J., Pensare come Leonardo, Milano: Pratiche Ed. 1999.

Kemp M., Leonardo da Vinci, Milano: Mondadori 1982.

Lorenzi Alberto, Se Leonardo tornasse a Milano, Milano: Ed Virgilio 1968.

Pomilio M., Leonardo Pittore, Milano: Rizzoli 1967.

Reti L., Leonardo, Milano: Mondadori 1974.

Ricci Franco Maria, Enciclopedia di Milano, Milano: FMR Editore 1997.

Sannazzaro G. B., Leonardo a Milano, Milano: Rusconi 1982.

Villani Leonida, Bramieri Gino, Una Milano mai vista, Edizioni CELIP: Milano 1985.

Opera completa di Leonardo Pittore, Milano: Rizzoli Editore 1967.

Storia di Milano, Milano: Treccani 1966.

Entry on “Leonardo” in Enciclopedia Italiana, Roma: Treccani 1949.

Entry on  “Leonardo” in Dizionario della pittura e dei pittori, Torino: Larousse-Einaudi 1989.

Entry on  “Leonardo” in Dizionario Enciclopedico, Novara: Istituto Geografico De Agostini 1966.

Entry on  “Leonardo” in Enciclopedia le Muse, Novara: Istituto geografico De Agostini 1966.

Entry on  “Leonardo” in Grande dizionario enciclopedico, Torino: Tipografia Sociale Torinese, 1953.

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