If wishes were horses

Study for the Sforza Monument (http://www.drawingsofleonardo.org)

The relationship between humans and horses can be traced back as far as the cave drawings of early man. And ever since, artists and writers have tried to capture the beauty and grace of these magnificent animals. During the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci easily drew horses, but he encountered design problems when trying to cast a statue of a rearing horse for Milan’s powerful Sforza family.

In the 16th and 17th centuries, Holland became the centre of European horse-trading, and the Dutch master Paulus Potter specialised in painting horses. And when Henry VIII met his fiancée Anne of Cleves and called her “a Flanders mare”, he was actually paying her a compliment. 

Producer: Maggie Ayre

Broadcast: November 2000