Anghiari is famous for a battle fought and won on its territory on Wednesday 29th June 1440 by the
Florentine Republic led by Micheletto Attendolo and Giampaolo Orsini against the
Milanese army led by Niccolò Piccinino. When Machiavelli subsequently wrote about it he pointed out ironically that
twenty or twenty four hours of skirmishing only produced one death and that when a soldier fell off his horse.
None the less, historically the outcome of the battle was very important as it kept central Italy in the hands of the Florentines and, indeed, Machiavelli commented much more seriously on this aspect.
Peter Paul Rubens, sited in the Museum of Louvre in Paris
However important the battle was at the time, however, it would almost certainly have been gradually forgotten about if the Magistrati of Florence hadn't decided to decorate the walls of the main Hall or Chamber of the government building, Palazzo Vecchio, with scenes celebrating the victories of the Florentine armies. Michelangelo was commissioned to paint the Battle of Cascina and
Leonardo da Vinci the Battle of Anghiari.
Leonardo drew up his project on cartoons and began to transfer the work from the cartoons to the wall of Palazzo Vecchio and painted the central section showing The Fight for the Standard. Unfortunately Leonardo's love of experimentation caused the painting to be damaged during the drying process and the uncompleted painting was destroyed. Eventually it was replaced by the existing painting by Vasari and the legend of the Lost Leonardo began. Even while Leonardo was working on it the painting was lauded as a major innovative work so that many artists came to learn from it and make copies of it, thus the battle still lives on through the paintings of
Rubens in the Louvre in Paris and that of Biagio di Antonio (1470) of the school of Paolo Uccello, which is in the National Gallery of Ireland in Dublin.