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Michelangelo and Da Vinci

It is very surprising that two very talented and gifted people had an overwhelming dislike for each other.

The story behind the feud was that Da Vinci and his friend Giovanni di Gavina passed a group of learned men that were trying to decipher some work by Dante. The group called on Da Vinci to join them and give his interpretation of Dante's work. At exactly the same time Michelangelo also passed by. Leonardo was reputed to tell the group that Michelangelo would be more able to explain the meaning of Dante's work. Instead of being flattered, Michelangelo thought that Leonardo was setting him up. Michelangelo retorted that Leonardo should explain to the group himself, saying 'no, explain it yourself, horse modeller that you are, who are unable to cast a statue in bronze were forced to give up in shame. Michelangelo then walked away. In the original text that relates this story, it does not indicate any provocation or ridicule on the part of Leonardo.

There is a serious error in this story as at the time Leonardo would not have had access to the vast amount of bronze that would have been needed for the statue as the bronze would have been requisitioned for the use of making cannon balls for the Milano – France war.

Michelangelo knew that Leonardo was a genius. Surely if the story was true to the point before Michelangelo made reference regarding the bronze horse then he would have been flattered that someone as great as Leonardo would have the confidence in him to explain a piece of Dante's text. Michelangelo could not have been jealous of Leonardo because he had not actually physically seen Leonardo's work that would have on show in Milan. Surely also Michelangelo would have been in awe of the amount of experimental work and perseverance that Leonardo had shown throughout his work?

The story was related by Codice Magliabecchiano, one can only wonder about the accuracy of the story, and whether it may only be a partial truth that was embellished in much the same way that most gossip is, in order to discredit one or both of the men. Both men were well liked in society and each had skills that were beyond the time in which they lived, they each had a sound reputation, so why would Michelangelo want to be jealous of Leonardo?


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