Charles Dent was a retired pilot and collector of Renaissance art who lived in Allentown, Pennsylvania. In 1977, he read about Leonardo Da Vinci’s recovered notebooks and the story of the never-built horse in National Geographic, and decided to complete the story.
Dent worked with the sculptor Nina Akamu to realize the design from Da Vinci’s original drawings. It is not exactly the same as Da Vinci’s horse would have been. She says, “The sculpture which I created for the Leonardo da Vinci’s Horse Inc. pays homage to the creative genius of Leonardo. It is not intended to be a recreation of his sculpture. However, it has been significantly influenced by certain works of art and writings from that period, and specifically Leonardo’s notebooks and accompanying drawings with great emphasis on his involvement with the Sforza monument. “
Charles Dent died in 1994 before he could see his project completed. The massive bronze horse was installed in Milan in 1999—500 years after the original model was destroyed. It weighs 15 tons and stands 25 feet tall on a on a white Carrara marble pedestal.
A second casting of the horse is at the Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Michigan, and two smaller versions were installed in the Piazza della Libertà in Vinci, Italy where Leonardo was born, and in Allentown, Pennsylvania, to honor Charles Dent as the visionary behind the project.
The horse stands proudly outside the Baum School of Art. It measures twelve feet tall—about half the size of the model in Milan, but impressive in its own right.
Know Before You Go
Like the one in Milan and in Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan this horse is located off the beaten path but worth seeing. I visited three of the four Bronzes, Milan, Michigan and Allentown, PA. This is located in a court yard so it is essentially open to the public without fee 24/7. If you call the Baum School of Art during normal business hours you might get a surprise, I did. 610-433-0032. They provided me with a Hat, a Leonardo's Horse coin and a very nice brochure describing the history of how this work of art came to being and the vision of Mr. Charles Dent.