'Leonardo' horse divides experts

Will go on display 25/11-23/12 at Istitut Francais

(ANSA) - Milan, November 22 - The small equestrian statue 'Horse and Rider' that will go on display at Milan's Istitut Francais from November 25 through December 23 is a bronze copy whose beeswax original is attributed to Leonardo Da Vinci, but not all experts agree on the original's provenance. Other museums were offered the chance to show the sculpture depicting French governor of Milan Charles d'Amboise, but they refused, not wanting to take responsibility for confirming its attribution. It was Professor Carlo Pedretti, in 1985, who declared that the work was by the great Renaissance masterßand was completed between the years 1503 and 1508.
    Pedretti studied the wax original and even found Leonardo-like initials behind the horse's saddle.
    Although Pedretti, who served as Armand Hammer Chair in Leonardo Studies at the University of California Los Angeles, authenticated the statue, his opinion hasn't been backed by other art history experts.
    That's how the statue wound up in the upcoming exhibition at the French cultural institute in Milan rather than an art museum.
    Charles d'Amboise was the French governor of Milan after the Sforzas were defeated during the reign of King Louis XII.
    A historic reconstruction seems to indicate that the sculpture was in Da Vinci's possession until his death, when it is believed to have been passed down to his heir Francesco Melzi.
    The statue reemerged in the Melzi family villa in Vaprio D'Adda near Milan at the beginning of the 1900s, and was sold by Melzi family descendants to the Sangiorgi collection in Rome.
    It changed hands several times after that before reaching American real estate businessman Richard A. Lewis, who, at Pedretti's suggestion, had a bronze copy of the statue made so that the delicate wax original wouldn't become damaged.
    That bronze copy is the one that will go on display in Milan, while the original is currently being held in England in a temperature-controlled display case.