Sforza, Ludovico Il Moro
- (1451-1508)Ludovico "Il Moro" Sforza assumed the title of Duke of Milan in 1494, a position he seized from his young nephew Giangaleazzo Sforza who had not yet attained his majority. A year earlier, he had allied himself with Venice and the papacy against Naples and Florence and had encouraged the French King Charles VIII to invade the Neapolitan territory. When it became clear that his own position was being threatened by the French, Ludovico allied himself with Emperor Maximilian I, giving him his niece, Bianca Maria Sforza, in marriage. Louis XII, who had claims over the Duchy of Milan as he was related by blood to the Visconti, the previous Milanese rulers, invaded in 1500 and had Ludovico imprisoned in the Castle of Loches, where he died. Political blunders aside, Ludovico was enthusiastic about learning and the arts. He penned the lives of illustrious men and was the patron of Leonardo da Vinci who, while in his service, painted the Last Supper (1497-1498) for the Dominicans living in the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, favored by Ludovico. He also painted the portrait of Ludovico's mistress, Cecilia Galleriani, called the Portrait of a Woman with an Ermine (c. 1485; Cracow, Czartoryski Museum). The architect Donato Bramante also worked for Ludovico in Milan on the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie (beg. 1493), where he contributed the transept, crossing (where the nave and transept cross), and apse, and the Church of Santa Maria presso San Satiro (beg. 1478) where the perspective relief in the apse brilliantly solves the problem of little space to produce an imposing design.
Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. Lilian H. Zirpolo. 2008.
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