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Da Vinci in Milan – the Leonardo da Vinci Art Trail
As a cultural, architectural, and artistic staple of not just Italy, but the world, Milan features many breath-taking sights—not least of all, the work of Leonardo da Vinci, one of the world’s most famous artists.
Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian polymath who lived during the Renaissance era and displayed an early talent for art, eventually including iconic works such as the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.
Throughout his life, Leonardo da Vinci worked for various patrons, including the powerful Medici family and the French king Francis I. He also had many powerful friends like the Duke of Milan. He spent time in Milan, Florence, and Rome, where he created some of his most famous works. He died in 1519 at the age of 67, leaving behind a legacy that has inspired artists, scientists, and thinkers for centuries.
If you have the chance to visit Milan, or perhaps even reside there, here is some of his amazing artwork you can see. You can even book a guided tour with some companies.
The Last Supper at Santa Maria delle Grazie
The Last Supper is one of the most significant artworks of the Renaissance and depicts the last meal of Jesus Christ with his disciples before his crucifixion, as described in the Christian Bible.
The painting is located in the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. It’s renowned for its composition, perspective, and use of light and shadow. It’s also notable for the way in which Leonardo captured the individual personalities of each disciple, including Judas Iscariot, who is shown with a bag of silver, symbolizing his betrayal of Jesus.
The painting has had significant historical and cultural impact, with countless reproductions and references in popular culture, one of the most famous of all the Leonardo works. It has also inspired many artists and has influenced the development of painting techniques, such as the use of one-point perspective.
It has faced many challenges over the years, from war to natural disasters. As a result, several restoration efforts and conservation measures have been undertaken to preserve the painting for future generations. For example, in 1978, a major restoration project was launched that took 22 years to complete.
In recent years, new technologies, such as high-resolution photography and computer analysis, have been used to study the painting and monitor its condition.
The Codex Atlanticus at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana
The Codex Atlanticus is a collection of drawings and writings by Leonardo da Vinci that is housed at the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana. It contains over 1,100 pages of Leonardo’s notes and sketches.
The Codex Atlanticus was compiled by Leonardo over several decades, beginning in the early 1480s and continuing until his death in 1519. It covers a wide range of topics, including art, engineering, mechanics, optics, and astronomy, among others. The pages of the codex are filled with Leonardo’s intricate drawings and detailed notes, often written in his characteristic mirror writing.
The codex was acquired by the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in the late 17th century, and it has been studied and admired by scholars and art historians ever since. Access is restricted only to certain scholars and researchers, though the Biblioteca Ambrosiana has made some digital versions of pages public online.
Leonardo’s Horse Statue at San Siro
The Leonardo’s Horse Statue, also known as Il Cavallo, is a large equestrian statue that was designed by Leonardo da Vinci over 500 years ago but never completed during his lifetime. The original clay model was destroyed during the French invasion of Milan in 1499, and the project was abandoned.
In the late 1970s, American philanthropist Charles Dent launched a campaign to recreate the statue using Leonardo’s original drawings and notes. The project was carried out by sculptor Nina Akamu, who spent nearly 20 years creating a full-scale model of the horse using modern materials and techniques.
In 1999, the statue was unveiled in a public square in Milan, near the San Siro stadium, as a tribute to Leonardo and to symbolize the close ties between Italy and the United States. It’s the largest bronze horse statue in the world.
Other Art Pieces by Leonardo in Milan
There are many other places where you can view Leonardo da Vinci’s amazing work in Milan. Castello Sforzesco, once home to the Duke of Milan, houses projects from Leonardo da Vinci, including the Sala delle Asse, a large room that he decorated with a series of intricate murals depicting a fanciful forest of trees and plants.
You can also visit the Vigna di Leonardo, or “Leonardo’s Vineyard,” a small vineyard located in Milan, Italy that was once owned by Leonardo da Vinci. It’s located near the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where Leonardo painted his famous Last Supper mural. It was rediscovered in the 20th century and now sells a variety of wines.
Another painting that can be seen of his is Portrait of a Musician, housed at the Pinacoteca Ambrosiana and considered one of his most famous paintings. It depicts a man looking out of the painting with an intense expression. The figure is set against a dark background, which helps to bring out the rich colors of his clothing.
The painting is notable for its use of chiaroscuro, a technique in which contrasting light and dark tones are used to create a sense of depth and drama. The identity of the young man in the painting isn’t known for certain, but it has been suggested that he may be a member of the Sforza family, patrons of Leonardo during his time in Milan.
Experience Leonardo da Vinci and His Art Pieces Found in Milan
From the San Maurizio al Monastero Maggiore to the Piazza della Scala, there’s beautiful art and architecture to be found everywhere in Milan—but Leonardo da Vinci certainly has a special touch. To really dive into Milan’s history, make sure you check out his work that is visible all around this beautiful city, as well as other likely sights he was associated with like the Sistine Chapel of Milan.