da Vinci

1452 - 1519

 Renaissance Art Map
     Leonardo da Vinci - biography
     Leonardo da Vinci    
     1452-1481 Leonardo in the Florence of the Medici    
     1482-1499 At the court of Ludovico il Moro    
     1500-1508 The return to Florence    
     1508-1513 The Milan of Charles d'Amboise    
     1513-1519 The last years: Rome and France    



Leonardo da Vinci
c. 1512




The return to Florence



The Battle of Anghiari


In the hall of the Great Council Chamber of the Palazzo Vecchio, Leonardo and Michelangelo (1505-06) worked on frescoes for two monumental scenes commemorating glorious moments in Florentine history. The subjects were to celebrate the victories of Cascina (1364) and Anghiari (1440), fought respectively against Pisa and Milan. Both scenes have been lost. Michelangelo did not even begin the fresco for the former and all that remain of the cartoons are copies of the episode of the soldiers bathing in the Arno. Leonardo, who owed the commission to the advocacy of his friend Machiavelli, managed to finish the cartoons and part of the painting for the latter, but fortune did not smile on the enterprise. His method, adopted from Pliny, involved using a kind of stucco as an alternative to fresco, on the lines of that already used for the Last Supper. However, the painting started to run and crumble, and all trace of it was lost by 1563, when Vasari frescoed the hall. Of the original work only partial copies remain; as do Leonardo's own invaluable sketches of skirmishes and single heads.


Peter Paul Rubens, The Battle of Anghiari, (copied from Leonardo da Vinci), 1503-05, Musee du Louvre, Paris.
Leonardo envisaged the scene as a furious struggle of men and horses around the standard, in a grand, heroic style.
It was not an historical narrative but a symbolic representation of the violence and passion of war,
defined by Leonardo himself as "insane and bestial madness".


The Battle of Anghiari
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence


The Battle of Anghiari
(copy of a detail)
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence


Battle of Anghiari
(Tavola Doria)
Formerly private collection, Munich (lost)


Aristotele da Sangallo, The Battle of Cascina, engraving by Michelangelo.
The human figure is central to the scene and the dominant theme is the representation of the nude in movement.
Michelangelo tends to "strain" the figures, exaggerating the physical,
sculptural aspect, and providing a lesson in torsion and foreshortening.


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