Da Vinci and the Horse

Da Vinci and the Horse

A Story by Maureen V. Hanover

Leonardo Da Vinci is a widely known Renaissance artist, inventor, and scientist (just to simplify his work). In his many fields of study, the one I have chosen to focus on is his fondness for horses, and have branched it further into his studies on animal anatomy and revolutionizing in comparative anatomy.

Da Vinci always had a particular fondness for horses, and was a known trainer. In 1482, Ludovico Sforza* authorized a statue of a horse in honor of his father. It was 24 feet tall, and made out of clay (Da Vinci worked on this over a course of 17 years). But in 1499, French forces invaded Milan and the archers used the model for target practice - reducing it to nothing. In 1988, a modern reconstruction of the statue began. On September 10, 1999, the 15-ton bronze statue was finally unveiled and gifted to Italy. The closest similar model to us is at the Frederik Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids.¹

Da Vinci’s inspiration for art came from nature itself. “Where the spirit does not work with the hand there is no art.” Unlike other artists of the same time period, Da Vinci blended science and art together to create accurate depictions of his subjects. For his art, Da Vinci would closely observe the subjects, and sometimes perform dissections to understand depth and the way they moved. I remember being taught that you can’t always only see the surface to create art - you must look beyond it to see on what the outer layer rides upon. To envision the skeleton of the animal and the muscles inside, and know how the visible layer fits to be accurate. I think that this is what Da Vinci had been doing.

He was known for comparing parts of animals he studied to that of a human. Pioneering in comparative anatomy, Da Vinci’s drawings and sketches were extremely scientifically accurate for the age. “Nature is the source of all true knowledge. She has her own logic, her own laws, she has no effect without cause nor invention without necessity.” �™

* Ludovico Sforza - Duke of Milan and Leonardo’s patron

¹ Click here and here to read about the modern-day reconstruction of Da Vinci’s horse and where to find it.

�™ Click here to see how accurate and revolutionary his anatomy really was.


Leonardo Da Vinci quotes

© 2018 Maureen V. Hanover

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Added on June 6, 2018
Last Updated on June 6, 2018


Maureen V. Hanover
Maureen V. Hanover


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