Renowned for his extraordinary artistic and intellectual prowess, Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) serves as a figurehead of the Italian Renaissance. An enigmatic chapter in his life unfolds during his stay in Milan, an era punctuated by the creation of unforgettable masterpieces such as ‘The Last Supper.’ This story revolves around the question – Why Leonardo da Vinci Left Milan?
A Prelude: Leonardo da Vinci’s Entry into Milan
Commencing in 1482 and concluding in 1499, Leonardo da Vinci’s period in Milan is etched into the annals of history for its contribution to the world of art. His journey to Milan was the result of an intricate political chess game.
Leonardo da Vinci arrived in Milan as part of a calculated peace agreement between the influential Medici family of Florence and Ludovico Sforza, the ruling Duke of Milan. Through this diplomatic alliance, the Duke received the gift of da Vinci’s unparalleled talent, and the city of Milan, a period of artistic prosperity.
Leonardo’s Milanese Masterpiece: The Last Supper
During his residency in Milan, Leonardo da Vinci painted several acclaimed works, none more notable than ‘The Last Supper.’ This mural, adorning the walls of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, serves as a testament to Leonardo’s time in Milan. It is a vivid reflection of his artistic style, keen observation, and understanding of human psychology.
The Siege of Milan and Da Vinci’s Exodus
The narrative takes a turn in 1499, when Milan faced an invasion by France during the tumultuous period of the Second Italian War. Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, Leonardo’s patron and protector, found himself cornered by the impending French assault.
Sforza’s political strategies were aimed at seeking assistance against potential threats from the Kingdom of Naples. His eyes turned to powerful nations, France and Spain, for aid. However, the winds of fate proved to be unpredictable.
France, initially perceived as an ally, betrayed Sforza’s trust, prompting him to form a new alliance with Venice. As the French forces started capturing Milan, Sforza was deposed. The upheaval led to Leonardo’s hasty departure from Milan. His sanctuary crumbled, and with the loss of his patron, Leonardo sought refuge in the serene lagoon city of Venice.