A project to celebrate the founder of the Sforza dynasty with an equestrian monument was conceived by the Duke of Milan, Galeazzo Maria Sforza (1444-1476), and resolutely pursued by his successor Ludovico il Moro (1452-1508). Leonardo received this commission in 1492 and transformed it into an epic undertaking, unprecedented in the history of art and of casting methods. For the first time, an artist sought to produce in a single cast – using more than sixty tons of bronze – an equestrian monument of which the horse alone would stand over seven metres tall.
Surviving studies by Leonardo for the equestrian monument enable us to reconstruct the characteristics and sequence of the casting process. They also provide quantitative and qualitative data on the materials and equipment that Leonardo had intended to use. This information makes it possible to visualise the key steps in the construction of the casting mould and to create virtual working models of the machines Leonardo designed to move the mould.