leonardo da vinci / 2 posts found
Leonardo da Vinci at the World Figure Skating Championship
Our beloved Leonardo da Vinci will be protagonist tonight at the opening ceremony of the World Figure Skating Championship, which this year is being hosted by our city, Milan.
Leonardo is a constant presence in Bella Milano guided walking tours and in this blog; after all, he lived here 25 years of his life, the longest period of time that he spent in just one place. And he dearly loved Milan, the city where he could follow all his many interests, where his versatility was truly appreciated, and his genius could blossom freely.
For tonight’s ceremony, the renowned choreographer Corrado Giordani, art director of the event, has focused on three key elements.
The one that everybody will recognize is the Vitruvian Man. The most famous of Leonardo’s drawings, it depicts a man in two superimposed positions with his arms and legs apart and inscribed in a circle and square. An iconic picture, so widespread that it can be found even on Nasa spacesuits, the Vitruvian Man represents the ideal proportions of the human body and its relationship with nature: the close adherence between man and the world, microcosm and macrocosm. What is better proportioned than the elegant athletes that will skate in Milan’s Assago Forum?
The second key element will be the snowflake, a symbol of nature’s ingenuity in creating something that Leonardo considered superior to any human design.
Finally, tonight’s coreography will focus on the flying man, the dream of Leonardo, who dedicated a great deal of his genius and time to the invention of a flying machine.
Milan houses two splendid exhibits of Leonardo’s inventions. A gallery of wooden models of some of his most famous projects is in Museo della Scienza e della Tecnologia, the Science and Tecnology Museum (which is by the way named after Leonardo!).
A truly fascinating exhibition is The World of Leonardo, where real life size flying machines (thoroughly explained by videos and interactive screens) allow to understand the struggle and the successes of Leonardo in trying to turn the dream of flying into reality.
From tonight until the end of the week, we will have the pleasure of watching amazing skaters fly on ice with elegance and harmony. Leonardo would have greatly appreciated.
P.S. Look carefully at the logo of this year’s World Figure Skating Championship: can you spot a knot? Well, that is another decorative motif connected to Leonardo. Follow us on a guided walking tour of Milan and we will tell you more!
March 21, 2018
Where is Leonardo’s horse located?
When we guide our guests around Milan, we are frequently asked a question: “Where is Leonardo’s horse located?“. The answer is a long, articulated story, so follow us in our quest of the famous statue.
Leonardo da Vinci spent decades of his life in Milan, a city that he truly loved. In 1482, Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, challenged him to build the largest equestrian statue the world had ever seen in honor of his father, Francesco. Always distracted by the most diverse projects and artistic works, only in 1493 Leonardo presented a 24’ clay model of the statue, from which a bronze horse could be made.
But those were troubled years, and when the Duchy of Milan was engaged in a war against the French, Ludovico Sforza confiscated the 80 tons of bronze that had been set aside for the horse to make weapons. Things got even worse, and in 1499 Milan was invaded by the French army, whose archers used the huge horse model for target practice, reducing it to ruins. Leonardo’s molds and sketches of the original horse were lost, and the project abandoned.
Now we have to move forward in time by 5 centuries and in space to the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, in Allentown, Pennsylvania, where a retired pilot and collector, Charles Dent, read in 1977 of an extraordinary finding: a few years before, the lost sketches of Leonardo’s horse had been found in the Biblioteca Nationale in Madrid.
He decided he would be the one to complete the project, with the collaboration of Japanese-American sculptor Nina Akamu. The outcome is not exactly what Leonardo had in mind. According to Akamu herself, “the sculpture which I created for the Leonardo da Vinci’s Horse Inc. … is not intended to be a recreation of his sculpture. However, it has been significantly influenced by certain works of art and writings from that period, and specifically Leonardo’s notebooks and accompanying drawings with great emphasis on his involvement with the Sforza monument.“
The final, giant bronze horse was finally installed in Milan in 1999, but unfortunately Charles Dent died before he could see it.
It now stands, proud and bold, at the entrance to the secondary grandstand of the San Siro gallop racetrack in Milan.
If you are interested in Leonardo’s life and works, and want to know more about its closeness with our beautiful city, join us on a guided walking tour of Milan. We have plenty of stories to tell you and places to show you!