Cast of Leonardo da Vinci’s only sculpture at Carnegie Science Center |
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JoAnne Klimovich Harrop

There’s a thumbprint visible if one looks closely.

It’s believed to be that of Leonardo da Vinci — scientist, engineer, inventor and, in this case, sculptor.

The sculpture, titled “Horse and Rider,” was unveiled Wednesday at the Carnegie Science Center on Pittsburgh’s North Side by popular televised art appraiser Brett K. Maly.

“It features a thumbprint believed to be da Vinci’s,” Maly said. “There are also little carvings and markings only visible under a magnifying glass on the statue. It represents the classical statue portrayals he would have been used to seeing. ‘Horse and Rider’ reminds us of the diverse nature of da Vinci’s interests.”

The unveiling kicks off da Vinci 500 Weekend Thursday through Sunday at the science center and marks the 500th anniversary of da Vinci’s death.

It is a cast of the only known sculpture created by the original Renaissance man, according to the science center.

Maly, who appears as an art expert for History Channel’s show “Pawn Stars,” agreed to hand deliver it to the museum.

He said it was the most important carry-on item he’s ever taken on an airplane. It made the trip from Las Vegas to Pittsburgh encased in a specially-made container.

“I think security was more worried about my suitcase with my clothes in it than this sculpture,” he said. “It never left my sight, and I am honored to have brought it here.”

The piece is on loan from a private owner in Las Vegas, Maly said.

It is worth $75,000 said and is one of 398 that will ever be produced from the original bronze.

The piece will be the first guests see when they enter “da Vinci The Exhibition” which runs through Sept. 2. The exhibit features 60 life-size reproductions of da Vinci’s inventions, more than 20 detailed art replicas, and displays of his studies in anatomy, nature, flight and science.

“It really represents all that da Vinci was,” said Maly. “It encompasses science, technology, engineering and math long before the STEM that we talk about today. Some people are right brain and others are left brain. He was all brain.”

The bronze sculpture depicts a Renaissance figure, thought to be da Vinci’s patron Charles d’Amboise, in full military dress on horseback, Maly said.

Historians believe the 10 by 10 inch sculpture was created as a model for what would have been a commemorative full-size bronze sculpture as a tribute to d’Amboise, who acted as French governor of Milan, Maly said.

“Da Vinci continues to inspire us today in so many ways,” said Jason Brown, interim director of Carnegie Science Center. “There are only a limited number of these and the science center is honored to have this amazing piece as part of the exhibition.”

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