Friday, November 16, 2012
Sculpture cast from rare Leonardo da Vinci mold makes stop in Dallas
After 500 years, the piece is experiencing a bit of a Renaissance.
HIGHLAND PARK For nearly 25 years, Richard Lewis kept a mold of a beeswax statue hand sculpted by Leonardo da Vinci in his closet, unsure of its historical and artistic significance. Now, Lewis is sharing his incredible find on a world tour. The reproduction, cast from Lewis' mold of the 500-year-old sculpture, stopped Thursday in Dallas for one of its earliest public viewings.
“I made an investment in something I really loved, but I didn’t really know what I had,” Lewis said during a viewing at the home of Lisa Blue. The showing benefited the White Bridle Society, which provides recreational therapy for autistic children.
Thinking of the time the mold spent, tucked away in a nook of his home, he chuckled and added, “Now, of course, I don’t still keep it there! It’s in a safe.”
Da Vinci’s paintings and drawings are so thoroughly vaunted in art history that even schoolchildren will recognize many: The Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, Vitruvian Man. But, though it is widely known that da Vinci was also an engineer and scientist, the literal definition of “Renaissance man,” few are familiar with da Vinci's sculptures. Experts believe that the sculpture, later dubbed “Horse and Rider,” was created as a mock-up for a planned statue of da Vinci’s friend and patron, Charles d’Amboise, the French governor of Milan, but that di Vinici died before its execution.
Da Vinci’s death was in 1519, when the model was inherited by his student, Francesco Melzi. Fast-forward to the 1930s, and “Horse and Rider” was passed down through generations of the Melzi family in Italy before being sold to sculptor Pompeo Leoni and finally taken to England, where it remained with private collectors until World War II, when it was moved to Geneva, Switzerland. In 1985, UCLA Armand Hammer Professor of Leonardo Studies Carlo Pedretti appraised the model, verifying its authenticity. Lewis was brought in to help pay for reproductions to be made from a mold of the original model, which is now housed in the Queens Collection at Windsor Castle. After the deal fell through, and Lewis decided to purchase the mold and all supporting documents.
An engineer by trade, Lewis’ admiration for the artist goes much deeper than a mere respect for fabulous art. Upon retirement, he decided to return his attention to the long-ignored mold, and an initial sculpture was cast from it in May, which Professor Pedretti called “perfect, perfect, perfect!”
The sculpture made its debut on August 21, 2012. During the showing in Dallas Thursday, Dallas star Larry Hagman served as honorary chair.
“Ecstatic” that the sculpture could support worthy cause, Lewis said being invited to share its beauty in Highland Park was an honor. He hopes the exposure will help the long-ignored piece receive due attention both by the art world as well as collectors interested in owning a casting. (Castings would be made to order and derived from a single mold of the original three-dimensional beeswax sculpture, carved by da Vinci’s own hand.)
“Horse and Rider” will head to New York for a spring preview, and will finish up the third leg of its world tour in London later in 2013.
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