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A BRONZE REARING HORSE
THE PROPERTY OF A GENTLEMAN 
A BRONZE REARING HORSE

CAST FROM A MODEL ATTRIBUTED TO LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-1519), 16TH CENTURY

Details
A BRONZE REARING HORSE
CAST FROM A MODEL ATTRIBUTED TO LEONARDO DA VINCI (1452-1519), 16TH CENTURY
Light brown patina with traces of a dark brown surface; on a later rectangular marble plinth; minor chips to the plinth
6½ in. (15¾ cm.) high; 7¼ in. (19 cm.) high, overall
Literature
COMPARATIVE LITERATURE:
J. Balogh, 'Studi sulla collezione di sculture del Museo di Belle Arti di Budapest', in Acta Historiae Artium Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae, XII (1966), pp. 292-293, figs. 114-124.
J. Balogh, Katalog der ausländischen Bildwerke des Museums der bildenden Künste in Budapest, Budapest, 1975, I, pp. 115-122, II, pp. 172-173, figs. 185-186.

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Lot Essay

The present bronze of a rearing horse is closely related to a bronze group of a horse and rider which is in the Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest. The Budapest bronze has, since the early 20th century, been associated with Leonardo da Vinci and his studies for two unexecuted monuments, one to Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan, and the other to General Gian Giacomo Trivulzio (Balogh, loc. cit.). Comparisons have been made with accepted Leonardo drawing studies for the monuments, and it is known from contemporary sources that Leonardo did, himself, produce sculptural models. The writer Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo actually refers to a horse modelled in plastica (wax or clay) which was in the collection of the sculptor Leone Leoni. Scholars still argue over whether the Budapest horse represents a cast in bronze of a model by Leonardo himself or if the model was executed by another artist of the period on the basis of Leonardo's drawings.

Other variant examples of the horse exist in bronze, including one in the Metropolitan Museum in New York and in the Hunt Museum in Limerick, although the Metropolitan bronze is currently thought to be a 19th century cast. The present bronze differs from the Budapest example in a number of subtle ways including forelegs that are more curled over, a different tail, and rear legs that are less splayed. And although the Budapest bronze is notable for the lack of cold working on the surface, the surface of the present bronze is even less polished, especially to the head, neck and chest.

It is difficult to know the exact relationship of the present bronze to the example in Budapest, and the precise date of both is open to question. The differences mentioned above indicate it is not simply another bronze cast from the same mould as the bronze in Budapest, yet they are so close to each other that it seems unlikely it is a cast of an independent model by the same artist. Could it be a record in bronze of the same wax model used for the Budapest bronze, but at a different point in the life of that model? What is clear is that the dynamism of the original model was such that it has fascinated people for centuries.

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