Sala delle Asse

Sala delle Asse
Artist Leonardo da Vinci
Year 1498
Type Tempera on plaster
Dimensions 267 m²[1]
Location Sforza Castle, Milan

The Sala delle Asse (In English: 'room of the tower' or 'room of the wooden boards'), is the location for a wall and ceiling painting in tempera on plaster, of decorated "intertwining plants with fruits and monochromes of roots and rocks", by Leonardo da Vinci, dating from about 1498 and located in the Castello Sforzesco in Milan.


During the painting of his Last Supper, Leonardo was presented with a room in the Sforza Castle for his own use by the then Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza.[2] Some documents describe the work of Leonardo in the Sforza Castle; this includes an order of Ludovico Sforza and a letter of 1498 by the Chancellor Gualtiero Bescapè addressed to the Duke, where it said that in September of that year, the artist had finished decorating the Sala delle Asse.[3] Leonardo was responsible for the decoration of the ceiling and the walls, how many people worked with him is unknown.

Description and style

The painting covers the ceiling and upper walls of the Sala delle Asse. Leonardo designed a decoration scheme that reproduces an outdoor space, in which great tree trunks starting from the walls extend their branches from lunettes to cover the entire ceiling, where they create a dense pergola with a complex interwoven pattern.[4] The dense network of branches and foliage, according to Frank Zöllner, "seems to break through the wall of the closed room, turning it into an ideal outdoor landscape".[5]

The fresco shows some roots penetrating layers of rocks, they form the base of the trunk of the tree, which form branches and gives the green leaves covering the ceiling, weaving form geometric patterns.

Theoretical traces of decoration plant motifs can be found in the chapter "Trees and vegetables" of the Treatise on Painting by Leonardo.

Loss and restoration

The room had various uses, notably it served as hangar; the fresco, which was deteriorating, was plastered in 1893-1894. In 1901-1902, a first restoration by Luca Beltrami took place, he did not hesitate to paint over damaged or missing parts. In 1954 a new restoration campaign was completed by removing as much as possible what was not original. Currently the mural painting are under Conservation.


  2. Loadstar. "Leonardo DaVinci". Retrieved 2016-04-11.
  3. Nardini, Bruno. Leonardo (in Italian). Giunti Editore. ISBN 9788809753112.
  4. Leonardo Da Vinci By Simona Cremante, Leonardo (da Vinci)
  5. Leonardo da Vinci. Paintings and Drawings. Frank Zöllner, Taschen.
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