The Lost Battles: Leonardo, Michelangelo and the Artistic Duel That Defined the Renaissance
Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo Buonarroti found it painful to live in the same country, let alone the same city, let alone work in the same room. When, at the start of the sixteenth century, they were both employed to create wall paintings of battles in The Great Council Hall in Florence, all hell broke loose. Their lives would never be the same again, neither would the story of art.
'You who tried to make a bronze horse in Milan and gave up in shame?' 'Be careful you do not make your nudes look wooden' 'Bastard' The insults flew thick and fast when the two greatest artists of the Renaissance were thrown into competition. Stories of their mutual hatred circulated in sixteenth century Italy and here, for the first time, these tales are tested against the evidence to create a startling flesh-and-blood portrait of genius.
In 1503 da Vinci started to paint the Mona Lisa. It so delighted his fellow citizens that that the fifty-one-year-old was asked to paint a mural in the government palace of the Florentine Republic. It was his finest hour. But in the nearby cathedral workshop a young sculptor named Michelangelo was finishing a statue of David.
Niccolo Machiavelli, author of The Prince, helped to set up a formal competition between the two. It was a defining moment, the mirror of an entire age. The Lost Battles is a rediscovery, not only of two lost masterpieces of Leonardo and Michelangelo, and of the Renaissance world that inspired them, but their emotional lives.
Other books by Jonathan Jones
Loves of The Artists: Art and Passion in the Renaissance
Earthly Delights: A History of the Renaissance
Sensations: The Story of British Art from Hogarth to Banksy
Lives of the Artists: Artemisia Gentileschi