The Colleoni Monument
The great mercenary captain had left a huge sum of money that the Republic should have set up a monument to him «in front of St. Mark». But no monument of any kind was allowed in the most famous square in the world.
The Serene Republic, to ensure that so large a sum should not be lost to the state, glossed the will «in front of the Grand College of St. Mark». The competition was opened and won by the Florentine Andrea del Cione calledVerrocchio († at Venice in 1488), the master of the great Leonardo da Vinci.
In 1481 Verrocchio reached Venice bringing with him «the natural size horse in pieces». Death overtook him before his masterpiece had been cast. Even though he had himself nominated as his successor in the work his fellow citizen and follower Lorenzo di Credi, the Republic gave preference toAlessandro Leopardi. The model is certainly that of Verrocchio with some retouching by Leopardi. The very fine base is entirely the work of Leopardi.
On 21st March 1496 came the inauguration of this magnificent work, resplendent in its gilding, of which today remain some traces.