The Horses of Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci Horse Statue

Image from PianoWow

Leonardo da Vinci seemed to have been a big fan of horses, and even his rough sketches possess an almost magical lifelike quality, both in their detail and in their perspective.

A True Artist

Although ultimately known for his portrait painting ability, it seems he was able to capture his subjects regardless of what type of animal they were. I actually appreciate some of these informal sketches more than his popular pieces. They give us a glimpse into his character, simply because he enjoyed the challenge of drawing horses and found them subjects worthy of his doodles.

The Way Leonardo Sees Horses

Leonardo da Vinci Horse Sketch

The Four Horses of Apollo

Leonardo da Vinci Horse Sketch

Horse Anatomy

Leonardo da Vinci Horse Sketch

Study for a Sculpture of a Horse

Leonardo da Vinci Horse Sketch

Rider on a Rearing Horse Trampling a Fallen Foe

Leonardo da Vinci Horse Sketch

Sketch of a Horse

Leonardo da Vinci Horse Sketch

Rider on a Rearing Horse

Leonardo da Vinci Horse Sketch

Rearing Horse

Leonardo da Vinci Horse Sketch

Study of Horses

Leonardo da Vinci Horse Sketch

Horse and Rider

Leonardo da Vinci Horse

The Fall of Phaeton

Now we know what the Mona Lisa was smiling at, there must have been a horse in front of her.

18 Comments on “The Horses of Leonardo da Vinci

  1. Sheona Hamilton-Grant

    A great selection of the masters equine works.
    They are just stunning. A pure delight.
    Like the Mona Lisa, I am smiling at this hand picked selection of noble steeds :)
    A great big thank you Paige.

    1. Mustangs_4_Ever

      These were horses that were popular then, and even today. Horses that appeared to be powerful and strong, were considered noble. Also, it’s more difficult to draw a muscular horse than a skinny one (in my humble opinion), and as he enjoyed a challenge… well, it makes sense to me anyway.

    2. Lucas

      these aren’t “heavy” horses (also called as draft horses) but, instead, these are either Lusitanos or PRE’s.. or, as they were called back in the days, Iberian horses.. they’re not heavy, it’s just the stocky/bullfighter body type; actually, they are very quick and versatile!

      1. sandy russell

        I am interested in the breeds and training of horses in Venice at the turn of the 16thC. Also war horses used in Italy, Germany, France..were they trained more by Spanish methods, or by Greek horsemanship principles? Any other information you can give me on these types of horses?

  2. ruth housman

    For Love of Horses: I have been researching prehistoric art and on line there are so many beautiful videos available that bring us to the prehistoric cave art in the Dordogne and around the world. Of course horses are an integral and graceful part of this art and these “primitive people” were sensitive and great artists. There is such love here.

    I looked first at the Picasso horses as they so remind me of what I am perceiving in the caves and now I have come to Da Vinci. It seems we built on the past or recreate it, and I still marvel at that young “autistic” girl, Nadia, whose horses drawn at such a tender age are so reminiscent of what we are seeing. What impels such creativity and sensitivity of observation and love?

  3. Elio Milay

    Mona smiled because she has just given birth to her new born second child. Her portrait had a celebrating purpose. She has the smile of a happy mom. Just that.

    1. Nikki

      You Know,they was only joking about her smiling at horses.. Why are you taking things soo seriously. And the point of art is to have your own opinion about areas of the image.

  4. michela

    Hey!really nice selection of Da Vinci´s work!…I have to do a really detailed research about Leonardo Da Vinci horse studies, can anyone help me? Im having a hard time trying to summaries why he started his studies about horses and what where the main the main functions of his studies….It would be great if someone can help me!! Im kind of confused with so many information! thanks

    1. Paige Post author

      Hi Michela,

      From what I’ve read Leonardo studied anatomy in many forms & even dissected human cadavers for his research. His artistic styles were groundbreaking for his time & I think his study of anatomy was specifically to understand how skin lays over bones & muscle to perfect his work.

      Hope that helps. :)

    2. sandy russell

      Check patronage. Who was ordering the statues etc. Social conditions, and the idea of the hero something I am studying too. Subject matter usually doesn’t spring up simply from love or curiousness. There is often an audience for the work. Ask yourself. Who is the audience?

  5. Alyssa

    Well im doing this project where I have to draw or sketche about Leonardo Da Vinchi and I think that this is going to be very interesting because I love horses and sketching/drawing them will be even better! I really like the Rearing horse and the Riding on the Rearing horse so I dont know what to pick can you tell me which one i should choose? Thanks! 😉

  6. Bethy bombom

    I think you should do the rider on the rearing horse :) I’m also doing an art project on leonardo da vinci xD hope you get a good mark 😀

  7. bob

    It sounds like many of the readers are interested in the traditional horsemanship displayed in these pictures… If you are researching that topic another style of horsemanship is the history of the vaquero. Its very interesting and is still very much alive today. Many working cowboys/cowgirls use this method of working/ living. For all the artists, the craftsmanship is supreme. from steel and silver, to rawhide and braiding… bit making… spur making and saddle design. Amazing.

    3 good links

  8. Diane Larsen

    Looking for da Vinci’s “study of the horse” excerpted from his notebook. Don’t want the entire three volume set only the work on the horse. Can anyone help ??

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