Leonardo, who was received in Milan as cultural
ambassador of the Signory of Florence, sent Duke
Ludovico a letter of introduction that listed his
abilities and his extraordinary range of interests. The
dukedom was going through a period of expansion and
appeared to offer him opportunities he could not realize
in Florence. Skilled in the crafts of peace and war, he
enumerated ten points that qualified him as an engineer
of war machinery and a technical adviser: a builder of
"very light and strong" bridges, "cannon, mortars, and
light ordnance, of very beautiful and useful shapes,
quite different from those in common use", "armored
cars, safe and unassailable". He only casually mentioned
his artistic talents "in the construction of buildings
both public and private", painting and "sculpture in
marble, bronze, or clay". The letter concluded by
offering to build the equestrian monument to the head of
the "illustrious house of Sforza", Francesco.
Leonardo da Vinci, Lute Made from a Horse's
Skull, Manuscript B, Institut de France, Paris.
Leonardo da Vinci, Rain of Cannonballs, Codice Atlantico,
Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan.
Leonardo da Vinci, Study of Hydraulic Instruments, c.1482, Codice Atlantico, Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan.
The Codice Atlantico, the most comprehensive collection known of
Leonardo's manuscripts - 550 of them assembled into a single volume in
the late 16th century
- covers forty years' work on mechanics, mathematics, astronomy,
physical geography, botany, chemistry, and anatomy.
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