|Date:||early 16th century|
|Medium:||bronze with green patina|
|Dimensions:||28 x 24 x 15 cm with compartment: 41 × 28 × 19 cm|
The Hungarian sculptor István Ferenczy (1792–1856) bought the statuette as a classical Greek bronze between 1818 and 1824 in Rome. Not long after 1914, when the work came to the museum, it was displayed as the only surviving sculpture by Leonardo. Although the famous artist received many commissions for sculptures, little trace of them remains. Both of the colossal equestrian monuments that he undertook ended in failure: the clay model for the statue of Francesco Sforza (1401−1466) in Milan was destroyed before casting, while the other, planned for Gian Giacomo Trivulzio (1440/1441−1518), was never completed. The equestrian monument of Francis I (1515–1547) is only supposed to be planned by Leonardo. Therefore, we only know about his sculptural works from enthusiastic accounts of his contemporaries and from his notes and preparatory drawings. Leonardo conceived both Milanese monuments with rearing horses, however, the execution of these works failed because of technical difficulties. Based on the inaccurate anatomical details of the small but robust horse in Budapest, it is assumed that the Horse and Rider was originally intended as an experimental piece: it helped the sculptor to solve the problems of statics regarding the figure of the freestanding, rearing horse.