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Thursday, September 9, 1999 Published at 15:31 GMT 16:31 UK

World: Europe

Da Vinci inspiration on show

The statue has been placed on a race track next to a soccer stadium

By Orla Guerin in Rome

What is believed to be the world's largest statue of a horse has gone on display in the Northern Italian city of Milan.

The giant bronze statue was inspired by sketches left by Leonardo Da Vinci almost 500 years ago. It cost almost £4m to build but some have branded it tasteless and rash.

The giant bronze horse weighs in at 15 tonnes and stands more than seven metres high.

It has been donated to the city of Milan by a group of Da Vinci enthusiasts in the United States who spent 20 years raising the funds to build it.

Hardly pride of place

[ image: On display at the foundry in New York state where it was created]
On display at the foundry in New York state where it was created
They commissioned an American sculptor, Charles Dent, to produce the statue. But it is quite literally a gift horse that some are prepared to look in the mouth.

While Milan city council says it is delighted with the gift, it has not been given a prominent location in the heart of the city.

Instead it has been deposited at a race track beside the soccer stadium where a cultural park is planned.

One leading art expert in the city says the horses on the track will look better than the bronze version.

Critics claim the statue is tasteless.

They say Leonardo's genius can never be captured and it was arrogant to try. But those behind the project defend it as a homage to Da Vinci.

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