365 Days of Art: October 6 – Archers Destroy Leonardo’s Clay Model, Velázquez Becomes Royal Painter

Leonardo, Studies of a Horse, c. 1482-1499
Leonardo, Studies of a Horse, c. 1482-1499

October 6, 1499

Louis XII of France invades Milan, and allows his archers to shoot target practice at Leonardo’s 25-foot clay model for an equestrian statue. For shame!

The Duke of Milan commissions the statue in 1482 (that’s 17 years ago–see how slow Leonardo is?); he and Leonardo intend it to be the largest statue in the world. Leonardo studies horses and prepares extensively, but the destruction of the model is the end of the line for his participation.

Centuries later, an American revives the project and several versions of a horse are created and displayed in Milan, Pennsylvania and in a portable format that travels with various Leonardo exhibitions. That seems less impressive to me, so I’ll show Leonardo’s original preparatory sketches.

Las Meninas depicts members of the Spanish royal court serving the young princess, as well as the court painter.
Las Meninas, by Diego Velazquez, 1656

October 6, 1623

King Philip IV of Spain names Velázquez as royal painter to the Spanish court. His job is to execute royal portraits and decorate the royal houses, with a monthly salary of 20 ducats.

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