The Battle of Anghiari took place just under the walls of the town, where the hills meet the valley of the River Tiber. It was one of the crucial moments of the war between the Visconti Lords of Milan and the Florentine Republic. Niccolò Piccinino, captain of the Milanese militia, hoping to catch his enemy unprepared, ordered the attack on Anghiari at an unusual time of day but the Florentines were forewarned, so after nearly six hours of battle and various events, the Florentines were able to force the Milanese troops to flee. Following the victory, the Florentine Republic granted a number of licenses to the town of Anghiari. The records show that the town was exempt from paying the “Monte delle Graticole” tax for ten years and the people of Anghiari could organize a public fair every year, on the saints day of St. Peter and Paul “without any payment of duty or customs” and run a Palio. Discovering history has never been so informative and fun. In the section dedicated to the battle you can find a model reconstruction and lots of information about one of the most important events in Italian history.
The fame of the Battle of Anghiari is inextricably linked to the name of Leonardo Da Vinci who, in May 1503, was commissioned to portray the conflict in the Hall of the Five Hundred in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence; meanwhile Michelangelo Buonarroti was commissioned to paint the Battle of Cascina. Thus began the challenge that became famous all over the world, so much so that in 1574 Benvenuto Cellini defined the works of the two artists as “the school of the world”.
Unfortunately, there has been nothing left of the two masterpieces for centuries and they are now only known through some preparatory drawings and various copies. In the first months of 1504, after a long period of planning and study, Leonardo da Vinci started to draw the great preparatory cartoons and then from 1505 to 1506 he started the work in Palazzo Vecchio. We don’t know whether Leonardo only finished the central part of the composition but we do know that, after he abandoned the work, the beautiful “horses of Leonardo” were visible. In the section of the Museum dedicated to the Battle you’ll discover the pictorial story linked to Da Vinci through some reconstructions of the techniques he used, the iconography and the latest news about the research in Palazzo Vecchio in Florence.