You name Leonardo and you immediately think about Florence: but Milan had a great importance in the life and works of the supreme Renaissance genius born in Vinci, Tuscany.
Lot have been lost (or stolen…) but one of the most iconic works from Leonardo still makes a fine show in Milan.
Italy in the Renaissance: a divided land
It is quite incredible, while watching the magnificent masterpieces of the Italian Renaissance in Florence, or Rome, in Ferrara or in Milan as well, to think that the XV and XVI Centuries in Italy has been not only the age of Arts and Humanism, but also a time of violence, of war, and political intrigue. A complex and multifaceted personality such as Leonardo was not only a great artist and scientist, but also an important agent of the political landscape.
Between Arts and politics: Leonardo Da Vinci in Milan
When you have in town one of the most amazing personalities of all time everything is easier: that was the enviable position of Lorenzo de’ Medici (1449 – 1492), the Florentine Republic “boss” in 1482.
Leonardo was also a goldsmith and a musician: he had created a silver lyre, horse’s head shaped. Then Lorenzo sent Leonardo to Milan, bearing the silver lyre as a gift for Ludovico Sforza (1452 – 1508), Duke of Milan, to win his political and military support.
Then Leonardo worked in Milan for Ludovico Sforza from 1482 until 1499. In 1499 Leonardo left Milan heading to Venice: the French troops at doors, Ludovico overthrown.
In almost seventeen years Leonardo worked as painter, military engineer, architect, sculptor, scenographer.
In Milan Leonardo painted at least three masterpieces. But while the two versions of the Virgin of the Rocks are now one in The Louvre in Paris and the other in the National Gallery, London, at least The Last Supper, “Il Cenacolo” is still in Milan.
Leonardo in Milan: The Last Supper
The Last Supper (Il Cenacolo, L’Ultima Cena) is a mural painting in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. It has been restored with twenty – one years of work (and quite a lot of controversies about the philosophy of the restoration) and it is one of the most important and famous (and studied, and satirized…) all time painting: if you are in Milan, L’Ultima Cena is an unmissable must!