The present drawing represents a study for the equestrian monument commissioned by Ludovico Sforza in honour of his father, Francesco Sforza, the former Duke of Milan. Although the colossal bronze was never realized, a number of the drawings for the statue have survived. The Budapest sheet is one of the most important records of a series of studies of carefully selected horses in Milanese stables, made during the period of 1490–3, when Leonardo was working most intensively on the equestrian monument. It clearly demonstrates Leonardo’s most intense investigations from life and his refined observations and understandings of the horses. Rendering the horse's front leg in different views the drawing elegantly captures the most essential details of the anatomy, and couples the liveliness of nature studies and a thorough knowledge of horses with an approach that reflects the spatial logic of sculpture.
Text: © Zoltán Kárpáti, 2015