After an introduction to the story of the equestrian monument to Francesco Sforza, the discussion turns to the two drawings by Antonio Pollaiolo owned by Vasari which he thought represented Francesco Sforza. One of these drawings was surely that now in Munich, with Francesco trampling a soldier. The other drawing, now in New York, showing a rider leaping at a great naked female figure, is also almost invariably understood to be Vasari’s other drawing of Francesco Sforza. But Vasari’s description of the drawings appears to imply that the drawing with the female figure, erroneously identified by him as Verona, was significantly different from the New York drawing. The author examines the hypothesis that the New York drawing illustrates Federico da Montefeltro triumphing over Volterra in 1472 after the infamous sack: then, the Florentines showered him with gifts including a great horse and an elaborate helmet made by Pollaiolo, of whom Federico was very fond. The hypothesis that the equestrian monument shown in the New York drawing was intended for Federico’s mausoleum in his palace at Urbino is discussed: it may be – to judge from Vasari’s account of the drawings – that Pollaiolo had already made drawings for this project that differed from the New York drawing, and that the drawing owned by Vasari was not in fact the New York drawing.
Antonio Pollaiolo; Francesco Sforza; Federico da Montefeltro; Vasari, Libro dei disegni; equestrian monuments; sack of Volterra; Urbino, Ducal Palace; Federico’s mausoleum.