In 1504, the informal rivalry between two of the most celebrated artists in Florence became a direct competition. Michelangelo was commissioned to paint a scene from the ancient battle of Cascina on a wall of the Palazzo Vecchio—in the same room where Leonardo da Vinci had already been commissioned to paint a scene from another great Florentine victory, the battle of Anghiari. As the paintings progressed, Michelangelo set out to prove that his work, not Leonardo’s, embodied the future of art. In fact, the influence of both is visible in the works of subsequent generations of artists.
Historian and art critic Jonathan Jones offers a riveting exploration of this great rivalry, which would become a turning point in the careers of both men, and brings to life an era of fascinating political and cultural transformation.