Study for the Equestrian Monument to Francesco Sforza

Artist: Antonio Pollaiuolo (Italian, Florence ca. 1432–1498 Rome)

Date: early to mid 1480s

Medium: Pen and brown ink, light and dark brown wash; outlines of the horse and rider pricked for transfer.

Dimensions: 11 1/16 x 10 in. (28.1 x 25.4 cm)

Classification: Drawings

Credit Line: Robert Lehman Collection, 1975

Accession Number: 1975.1.410

Description

This celebrated drawing was made by the Florentine painter, sculptor, engraver, and goldsmith Antonio Pollaiuolo. The sixteenth-century historian Giorgio Vasari, who owned the sheet and may have added the brown wash around the figures, seems to have described this drawing in his biography of Pollaiuolo (Lives of the Artists) of 1568. It represents a design for the bronze equestrian monument commissioned by Ludovico Sforza (1480-94, de facto ruler of Milan; 1494-99, Duke of Milan) in honor of his father, Francesco Sforza. This sheet (as well as its pendant, Staatliche Graphische Sammlung, Munich, inv. 1908.168) could have served as a presentation drawing for Ludovico, who may have arranged a competition between the artist and Leonardo da Vinci, who arrived at the Milanese court in the early 1480s. Leonardo, who won the commission, produced studies for the project from the early 1480s to the late 1490s, though the ill-fated monument was never completed.

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