By Ioannis Tzortzakakis

Ludovico (Maria) Sforza, Duke of Milan, died 27 May 1508 (aged 55). Born in 27 July 1452, Vigevano (Modern day Lombardy), Italy. He was also known as Ludovico il Moro (the Black), due to his dark complexion. With his wife, Beatrice d’ Este, they had two sons, Ercole Massimiliano and Francesco.

He was the patron of many artists; Leonardo da Vinci was among them. Lodovico Sforza commissioned The Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani (or Lady with an Ermine), who was his mistress, for instance. While, he also commissioned The Last Supper, in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan; along with the bronze equestrian statue honoring Ludovico’s father. The list of artists’ names in his court include Donato Bramante, Sandro Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, Pietro Perugino and Domenico Ghirlandaio.

Ludovico il Moro detail from Virgin and Child Enthroned with the Doctors of the Church, 1494, Tempera on panel, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan.

Giovanni Ambrogio de Predis, “Portrait of Ludovico Sforza”, Miniature from the Grammatica Latina by Elio Donato. Late 15th c., Now in the Castle Trivulzio Library (code 2167).

Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, Ludovico Sforza, private collection, Milan.

Domenico dei Cammei (Domenico of the Cameos), Ludovico Maria Sforza, 1495-97, Onyx with gold frame, Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

Leonardo da Vinci, Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, 1489–1490, Oil on wood panel, Muzeum Czartoryskich w Krakowie, Poland.

Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper, 1495–1498, tempera on gesso, pitch, and mastic, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan.

Leonardo da Vinci, Double manuscript page on the Sforza monument, c. 1493, Red chalk on paper, 21 x 30 cm, Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid.

Leonardo da Vinci, Study for the Sforza monument, 1488-89, Metalpoint on bluish prepared paper, Royal Library, Windsor.

Ludovico Sforza’s Signature, Wikimedia Commons.

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