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Full text of "Leonardo da Vinci, artist, thinker and man of science"


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LEONARDO DA VINCI 




Printed by Draerjer, Paris 



LIST OF TEXT ILLUSTRATIONS 

IN VOLUME I 



PAGE 



La Belle Ferronniere. (The Louvre.) xii 

The Annunciation (ascribed to Leonardo da Vinci). (The Uffizi, Florence.) i 

Life Study. (British Museum.) i 

Study of a Youth. (Windsor Library.) 4 

Study of a Young Woman. (Windsor Library.) 4 

Study of a Young Girl. (Windsor Library.) 5 

Study of a Youth. (Windsor Library.) 5 

View of the Town of Vinci 8 

Study of an Old Man. (The Uffizi, Florence.) 9 

Studies of Infants (for the "Saint Anne"). (Musee Conde, Chantilly.) .... 12 

Study of a Young Woman. (Windsor Library.) 13 

Study of a Youth (for the "Adoration of the Magi")- (The Valton Collection, 

Paris) 16 

Study of Helmeted Heads. (Windsor Library.) 16 

The Unbelief of S. Thomas, by Verrocchio. (Or San Michele, Florence) ... 17 
The Beheading of S. John the Baptist, by Verrocchio. (Museum of the 

Duomo, Florence.) 20 

The Child with a Dolphin, by Verrocchio. (Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.) .... 21 

Bust of Colleone, by Verrocchio. (Piazza di SS. Giovanni e Paoli, Venice.) . . 24 
Head of a Saint, by Perugino. (Church of Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi, 

Florence.) 25 

Study of a Horseman (ascribed to Verrocchio) 28 

Study of a Horseman (ascribed to Verrocchio) 28 

Leonardo's first dated Landscape. (The Uffizi, Florence.) 29 

Verrocchio's Head of david. (Museo Nazionale, Florence.) 32 

Study of a Head by Leonardo for Verrocchio's "David.' (Weimar 

Museum.) 33 

Three Dancers. (Accademia, Venice.) 36 

Sketch, School of Verrocchio. (Tiie Louvre.) 37 

Head of John the Baptist, from Verrocchio's " Baptism of Christ." (Acca- 
demia, Florence.) 40 

Statue of Colleone, by Verrocchio. (The Base by Leopardi.) (Piazza di SS. 

Giovanni e Paolo at Venice.) 41 

Study of a Horseman. (Windsor Library.) 44 

"The Annunciation" (attributed to Leonardo). (The Louvre.) 45 

Study for the "Adoration of the Magi." (The Valton Collection, Paris) ... 45 

Study of Heads, d.ated 1478. (The Uffizi, Florence.) 48 

Bust of S. John the Baptist (ascribed to Leonardo). (South Kensington 

Museum.) 49 

Study for the " Adoration of the Magi." (Bonnat Collection, Paris.) .... 52 

Sketch of Baroncelli. (Bonnat Collection, Paris.) 53 

Portrait of a Warrior. (Malcolm Collection, British Museum.) 57 

Study for the "Adoration of the Magi." (The Uffizi, Florence.) 61 

Study for the "Adoration of the Magi." (The Louvre.) 61 

VOL. l b 



LIST OF TEXT ILT.USTRATIONS 



PAGE 



Tur, "Adoration of the Magi," nv Filippino Lippi. (The Uffizi, Florence.) ... 64 
SrUDVFOit THE •' AuoR.vnON OF THE Magi." (The Louvre. Formerly in the 

Galichon Collection.) "5 

The Madonna of the "ADjR.vnoN of the Magi." (Fragment from the Caitoon.) 68 

Cartoon of the "Adoration of the Magi." (The Uffizi, Florence.) 69 

Study for the " Ador.\tion of the Magi." (Malcolm Collection, British Museum.) 72 

Study for the "Adoration of the Magi." (The Louvre.) 72 

Types of Virgin and Child. School of Leonardo. (Bonnat Collection, Paris.) 73 
Study for the "Ador.\tion of the Magi" (fragment). (The Valton Collection.) 76 
Study for the "Adoration of the Magi" (fragment). (Cologne Museum.) . . ^i 

Study for the " Adoration of the Magi." (The Louvre) So 

"S. Jerome in the Desert." (Vatican Gallery.) 81 

Head of Christ. (Accademia, Venice.) 88 

A Milanese Miniature of the Fifteenth Century (Frontispiece of the 

"ISTORIA del Duca FRANCESCO Sforza," BY G. Simonetta). (British Museum.) 89 

Study of a Horse. (Windsor Library.) 89 

Frontispiece of the "Antiquarie Prospettische." 93 

Portrait of Ippolita Visconti, by Bernardino Luini. (Monastero Maggiore, 

Milan.) 96 

To.MB OF Cardinal A.scanio Sforza, by Andrea Sansovino. (Church of Santa 

Maria del Popolo, Rome.) 97 

Portrait OF the Poet Bellincioni. (From an Engraving of 1493) 100 

The Chronicler Corio. (From a Contemporary Engraving) loi 

Bianca Maria Sforza. (From a Drawing by G. M. Cavalli.) (Accademia, Venice.) . 104 
The Emperor Maximilian. (From a Drawing by G. M. Cavalli.) (Accademia, Venice.) 104 
Beatrice d'Este : from the Monument by.Cristoforo Solari. (Certosa, Pavia.) 105 

Design for Candelabrum. [Codex Atlanticiis) 108 

Marshal Trivulzio. From a Plaque ascribed to Caradosso 109 

Bramante. After a Medal by Caradosso 112 

"The Martyrdom of S. Seba.stian," by Vicenzo Foppa. (The Brera, Milan.) . . 113 
A Milanese Portico of the Time of Lodovico II Moro (after an engraving 

ascribed to Bramante) 117 

"The Crucifixion," by Montorfano. (Refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazic, 

Milan.) 1^0 

Study of a Young Woman. (Windsor Library.) 121 

Designs for War Chariots. (Windsor Library.) 125 

Studies of Horses. (Windsor Library. From a Photograph given by M. Rouveyrc.) . 128 
Studies of Horses. (Library of the Institut de France ; from M. Ravaisson-Mollien's 

Leonardo da Vi?tci. ) j -,q 

Portrait of Gian Galeazzo Sforza, by V. Foppa. (Wallace Museum, London. ; . 132 

Study OF A Horseman. (Windsor Library.) • 133 

An Allegory of Envy. (Library of Christ Church College, O.xford.) ' 136 

A Beggar or Convict. (Windsor Library.) 137 

Frieze by Caradosso. (Church of San Satiro, Milan.) . . . 141 

Study for The "Adoration of the Magi." (The Valton Collection, Paris.) . . ' 141 
Equestrian Bas-Relief of Annibale Bentivoglio (1458), by Niccolo dlll' 

Arca. (Church of San Giacomo Maggiore, Bologna.) 144 

Equestrian Bas-Relief by Leonardo da Prato (15 it). (Church of SS. Giovanni 

e Paolo, Venice.) j,- 

Studies for the Equestrian Statue of Francesco Sforza. (Windsor Library, 

reproduced from Dr. Richter's Book.) .148 

Equestrian Statue of Gattamelata, by Donatello, at Padua 

Studies of Horses. 

Studies of Horses. (Windsor Library, 

Study for the Equestrian Statue of F 



149 



(Windsor Library.) j- 



153 

OF Jt<RANCESCO Sforza. (Windsor Library. 

Reproduced from Dr. Richter's work.) i q6 

Study for the Equestrian Statue of Francesco Sforza.' (Windsor Library 

Reproduced from Dr. Richter's work.) 1^7 

Stwdy for the Equestrian St.\tue of Francesco Sforza.' (Windsor Library 

Reproduced from Dr. Richter's work.) 160 



LIST OF TEXT ILLUSTRATIONS xi 

PAGE 

Study of Horses. (Windsor Library.) i6i 

A Figure for the "Adoration of the Magi." (Bonnat Collection, Paris.) . . . i6i 

Study for the Angel in the "Virgin of the Rocks." (Royal Library, Turin.) . 164 
Study for the Angel in the " Virgin of the Rocks." (Ecole des Beaux Arts, 

Paris.) 165 

The "Virgin of the Rocks." (National Gallery, London.) 168 

Study for the "Virgin of the Rocks." (Christ Church Library, Oxford.) .... 169 

Study for the Infant S. John the Baptist. (Mancel Gallery, Caen.) 172 

Study for the Infant Jesus. (Mancel Gallery, Caen.) 173 

Study for the Infant S. John the Baptist. (The Louvre.) 176 

Child Playing with a Cat. (Windsor Library.) 176 

First Idea for "The Last Supper." (Windsor Library.) 177 

First Idea for "The Last Supper." (The Louvre.) ... • 177 

LoDOvico il Moro granting a Charter to the Prior of Santa Maria delle 

Grazie. (Miniature from the collection of the Marquis dAdda at Milan.) 180 

The Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie at Milan 181 

"The Last Supper," by Andrea del Castagno. (Convent of S. Apollonia at 

Florence.) 184 

First Idea for "The Last Supper." (Accademia, Venice.) 185 

Study for the head of Judas. (Windsor Library.) 188 

Study for the Arm of S. Peter. (Windsor Library.) 189 

Study for the Head of S. Matthew. (Windsor Library.) 192 

Study for the Head of S. Philip. (Windsor Library.) 193 

" The Last Supper." Left Side. (In its present state.) 196 

''The Last Supper." Right Side. (In its present state.) 197 

"The Last Supper." Left side. (In its present state.) 200 

"The Last Supper." Right side. (In its present state.) 201 

The Castle of Milan. From a sixteenth century Drawing 204 

Design for a Lighthouse. (Reproduced from Dr. Richter's work.) (Vallardi 

Collection, the Louvre.) . 205 

Plan of a Pavilion for the Duchess of Milan. (Library of the Institutde France.) 205 

Mercury OR Argus. A Fresco by Bramante(?). (The Castle of Milan.) 208 

Portrait of an unknown Man. (The Ambrosiana, Milan.) 209 

A Sheet of Sketches. (Bonnat Collection, Paris.) 212 

Study FOR A Standing Figure. (Library of the Institut de France.) 212 

Study OF a Head. (The Louvre.) 213 

Study for the Equestrian Statue of Fr. Sforza. (Windsor Library.) 213 

A Muse (?). From an Engraving ascribed to Leonardo. (British Museum.) . . 216 

Study of an Old Man. fTrivulzio Library.) 216 

Head of a Woman. From an Engraving ascribed to Leonardo. (British 

Museum.) 217 

Study of a Head. Facsimile of an Engraving after Leonardo 220 

Studies for the Statue of Francesco Sforza. From an Engraving ascribed 

TO Leonardo. (British Museum.) 221 

Design for a Church with a Central Cupola. (Library of the Institut de France.) 224 

Models of Weapons, Offensive and Defensive. (The Valton Collection, Paris.) . 225 

Study for the "Adoration of the Magi." (British Museum ) 225 

Engraving of Interlaced Ornament, Inscribed "Academia Leonardi Vinci." 

(The Ambrosiana, Milan.) 228 

Engraving of Interlaced Ornament, inscribed "Academia Leonardi Vinci." 

(The Ambrosiana, Milan.) 229 

Sketch in the " Trattato della Pittura." (Vatican Library.) 230 

Sketch in the "Trattato della Pittura." (Vatican Library.) 231 

Engraving of Interlaced Ornament, inscribed " Academia Leonardi Vinci." 

(The Ambrosiana, Milan.) 232 

Head of an Old Man crowned with Laurel. (Windsor Library.) 233 

Sketch IN the "Tr.\ttato DELLA Pittura." (Vatican Library.) 234 

Sketch in the "Trattato della Pittura." (Vatican Library.) 234 

Sketch in the "Trattato della Pittura." (Vatican Library.) 235 

Sketch in the "Trattato della Pittura." (Vatican Library.) 235 



LIST OF TEXT ILLUSTRATIONS 



Head of an Old Man. (Windsor Library.) 236 

Head of an Old Man. (The Louvre.) 237 

Sketch IN THE "Trattato DELLA PlTTURA.^' (Vatican Library.) - . 238 

Sketch in the "Trattato della Pittura." (Vatican Library.) 239 

Measurements OF the Human Head. (Library of the Institut de France.) .... 240 

Sketch in the " Trattato della Pittura." (Vatican Library.) 240 

Measurements of the Human Body. (Accademia, Venice.) 241 

Sketch in the "Trattato della Pittura." (Vatican Library.) 241 

Sketch in the "Trattato della Pittura." (Vatican Library.) 242 

Sketch in the "Trattato della Pit ruR A." (Vatican Library.) 243 

Sketch in the "Trattato della Pittura." (Vatican Library.) 243 

A Sheet of Sketches. (Bonnat Collection, Paris.) 244 

Grotesque Figure. (Windsor Library.) 245 

Model of Letter composed by Leonardo for ^HK Treatise "De Divina 

Proportione" 248 

Grotesque Heads. (Windsor Library.) 249 

Sketch from the "Trattato della Pittura." (.Vatican Library.) 252 

The Proportions of the Human Head, dr.\wn by Leonardo for Paciolis 

Treatise 252 

Sketch from the " Trattato della Pittura.-' (Vatican Library.) 253 

Sketch from the " Trattato della Pittura." (Vatican Library.) . . ... 253 

Study of Flowers. (Windsor Library.) 256 




:.A IIEI.LE FEKKONNItUK 

(The Louvre.) 



uol> 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



Artist^ Thinker^ and Man of Science 



FROM THE FRENCH OF 

EUGENE MUNTZ 

MEMBER OF THE INSTITUT DE FRANCE 
KEEPER OF THE COLLECTIONS IN THE ECOLE DES BEAUX ARTS 



With Forty-eight Plates and Tivo Hiciidred and Fifty-i%vo Text Illustrations 

IN TWO VOLUMES 

First Vohcvie 




LONDON : WILLIAM HEINEMANN 
NEW YORK: CHARLES SCRIBNER'S SONS 



MDCCCXCVIII 



Rights Reserved. 



MAUD Ci.AY AMI Sons, Limi 

LONDON AND IIUNGAV. 



THE LIBRARY 



PREFACE 

THERE is no name more illustrious in the annals of art and 
of science than that of Leonardo da Vinci. And yet this 
pre-eminent genius still lacks a biography which shall make 
him known in all his infinite variety. 

The great majority of his drawings have never been reproduced. 
No critic has even attempted to catalogue and classify these master- 
pieces of taste and sentiment. It was to this part of my task that 
I first applied myself. And, among other results, I now offer the 
public the first descriptive and critical catalogue of the incomparable 
collection of drawings at Windsor Castle, belonging to her Majesty 
the Queen of England. 

Among the many previous volumes dedicated to Leonardo, 
students will seek in vain for details as to the genesis of his pictures, 
and the process through which each of them passed from primordial 
sketch to final touch. Leonardo, as is conclusively shown by my 
researches, achieved perfection only by dint of infinite labour. It 
was because the groundwork was laid with such minute care, with 
such a consuming desire for perfection, that the Virgin of the 
Rocks, the Mona Lisa, and the 5. Anne are so full of life and 
eloquence. 

Above all, a summary and analysis was required of the scientific, 
literary, and artistic manuscripts, the complete publication of which was 
first begun in our own generation by students such as Messrs. Richter, 
Charles Ravaisson-Mollien, Beltrami, Ludwig, Sabachnikoff and 
Rouveyre, and the members of the Roman Academy of the " Lincei." 



vi PREFACE 

Thanks to a methodical examination of these autographs of the 
master's, I think I have been able to penetrate more profoundly than 
my predecessors into the inner life of my hero. I may call the special 
attention of my readers to the chapters dealing with Leonardo's attitude 
towards the occult sciences, his importance in the field of literature, his 
religious beliefs and moral principles, his studies of antique models — 
studies hitherto disputed, as will be seen. 

I have further endeavoured to re-constitute the society in which 
the master lived and worked, especially the court of Lodovico il Moro 
at Milan, that interesting and suggestive centre, to which the supreme 
evolution of the Italian Renaissance may be referred. 

A long course of reading has enabled me to show a new signi- 
ficance in more than one picture and drawing, to point out the true 
application of more than one manuscript note. I do not, indeed, flatter 
myself that I have been able to solve all problems. An enterprise such 
as that to which I have devoted myself demands the collaboration of 
a whole generation of students. Individual effort could not suffice. 
But at least I may claim to have discussed opinions I cannot share with 
moderation and with courtesy, and this should give me some title to the 
indulgence of my readers. 

The pleasant duty remains to me of thanking the numerous friends 
and correspondents who have been good enough to help me in the 
course of my long and laborious investigations. 

They are too many to mention here individually, but I have been 
careful to record my indebtedness to them, as far as possible, in the 
body of the volume. 

EUGENE MUNTZ. 

Paris, October, 1898. 



CONTENTS OF VOLUME I 



CHAPTER I 

PAGE 

THE GENIUS OF LEONARDO— HIS CHILDHOOD— HIS FAMILY— SER PIERO— FIRST 
STUDIES AND EARLIEST ATTEMPTS— IN VERROCCHIO'S STUDIO— METHODS OF 
TEACHING — HIS FELLOW-STUDENTS : PERUGINO, LORENZO DI CREDI, ATALANTE 
—MASTER AND PUPIL 1—44 

CHAPTER 11 

FIRST ORIGINAL PRODUCTIONS: THE SHIELD— THE " MEDUSA "—" THE FALL "— 
PICTURES ASCRIBED TO LEONARDO— ' THE ANNUNCIATION" OF THE LOUVRE AND 
"the ANNUNCIATION" OF THE UFFIZI— THE PORTRAIT OF BANDINI BARONCELLI 45— 6o 

CHAPTER III 

THE " ADORATION OF THE MAGI " — THE " S. JEROME "—DEPARTURE FROM 
FLORENCE— SUPPOSED JOURNEY TO THE EAST 61 — 88 



CHAPTER IV 

LODOVICO IL MORO AND BEATRICE D'ESTE— THE COURT OF THE SFORZI— PRINCES, 
HUMANISTS, AND SCHOLARS— THE MILANESE SCHOOL — LEONARDO'S PRECURSORS 
AND RIVALS 



CHAPTER V 

LEONARDO'S DEBUT AT THE COURT OF MILAN — HIS PROGRAMME — THE EQUES- 
TRIAN STATUE OF FRANCESCO SFORZA— LEONARDO AS A SCULPTOR— HIS INFLU- 
ENCE ON THE SCULPTURE OF NORTHERN ITALY I4I — 160 



CHAPTER VI 
THE VIRGIN OF THE ROCKS" — OTHER MADONNAS OF THE MILANESE PERIOD . 161— 176 



CHAPTER VII 

"THE LAST SUPPER" 177— 224 



CHAPTER VIII 

LEONARDO'S ACADEMY— HIS WRITINGS ON ART — FRA LUCA PACIOLI AND THE 
TREATISE ON PROPORTION — LEONARDO'S " ATELIER " AND ITS TEACHING . . . 225 — 256 



LIST OF PLATES IN VOLUME I 

PHOTOGRA VURES 



To fa. 



I. Studies of Youthful Heads. (The Louvre) 4 

II. Study of Drapery. (Windsor Library) i6 

III. Study for a Head of the Virgin, ascribed to Leonardo (The Uffizi, 

Florence) 48 

IV. Study for a Head of the Virgin, ascribed to Leonardo (Windsor Library) 56 
V. Bust of Scipio. School of Leonardo. (M. Paul Rattier's Collection) . . 15S 

VI. First Idea for "The Virgin of the Rocks" (Duke of Devonshire's 

Collection, Chatsworth) 162 

VI I. "The Virgin of the Rocks" (The Louvre) 170 

VIII. "The Last Supper." (Refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan) ... 182 

IX. Study for the Head of Christ. (The Brera, Milan) 190 

X. Head of S. John. An Early Copy from "The Last Supper." (Weimar 

Museum) 194 

XL Study for "The Madonna Litta." (The Louvre) 200 

XII. "The Madonna Litta." (The Hermitage, S. Petersburg) 204 

XIII. Portrait of a Young Princess. (The Ambrosiana, Milan) 208 



COLOURED AND TINTED PLATES 

1. Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, by Himself. (Royal Library, Turin.) Frontispiece 

2. The Angels from Verrocchio's Picture of the " Baptism of Christ." 

(The Angel on the right by Leonardo, the Angel on the left by Verrocchio.) 
(Accademia delle belle Arti, Florence.) 44 

3. Head of a Young Woman. (The Uffizi, Florence.) 60 

4. Study for the " Saint Jerome." (Windsor Library.) 80 

5. Studies for the Virgin with the Infant Jesus (ascribed to Leonardo). 

(British Museum.) 94 

6. Studies of Horses. (Windsor Library.) 144 

7. Study for the Head of the Infant Jesus in the "Virgin of the Rocks." 

(The Louvre.) 174 

8. Studies for the Head of the Infant Jesus in the "Virgin of the 

Rocks." (The Louvre.) 176 

9. Study for the Head of an Apostle. (Windsor Library.) 186 



10. Head of an Old Man. (British Museum.) ^ 214 

A Study of Draperies. (The Louvre.) '.(. 236 

Portrait of an Old Man. (British Museum.) 240 

13. Head of a Young Woman. (Windsor Library.) 250 

14. .Studies in Proportion. (Windsor Library.) 254 




THE ANNUNCIATION ASCRIBED TO LEONARDO DA VINCi). 

(The Uffizi, Florence.) 



CHAPTER I 



THE GENIUS OF LEONARDO — HIS CHILDHOOD —HIS FAMILY — SER PIERO — FIRST 

STUDIES AND EARLIEST ATTEMPTS — IN VERROCCHIO's STUDIO METHODS OF 

TEACHING — HIS FELLOW-STUDENTS : PERUGINO, LORENZO DI CREDI, ATALANTE 
MASTER AND PUPIL. 




I 



N Leonardo da Vinci we have the most 
perfect embodiment of the modern in- 
tellect, the highest expression of the 
marriage of art and science : the thinker, the 
poet, the wizard whose fascination is unrivalled. 
Studying his art, in its incomparable variety, 
we find in his very caprices, to use Edgar 
Quinet's happy phrase with a slight modifica- 
tion : " the laws of the Italian Renaissance, 
and the geometry of universal beauty." 

It is true, unhappily, that setting aside his 

few completed works — the Virgin of the Rocks, 

the Last Supper, the Saint Anne, and the Mona 

Lisa — Leonardo's achievement as painter and 

sculptor is mainly present to us in marvellous 

fragments. It is to his drawings we must turn to understand all the 

tenderness of his heart, all the wealth of his imagination. To his 

drawings therefore, we must first call attention. 

A, Two periods of human life seem to have specially fixed Leonardo's 



LIFE STUDY. 

(British Museum.) 



2 I.I'.ONARDO DA VINCI 

attention : adolescence, and old age ; childhood and maturity had less 
interest for him. He has left us a whole series of adolescent types, 
some dreamy, some ardent. 

In all modern art, I can think of no creations so free, superb, 
spontaneous, in a word, divine, to oppose to the marvels of antiquity. 
Thanks to the genius of Leonardo, these figures, winged, diaphanous, 
yet true in the highest sense, evoke a region of perfection to which 
it is their mission to transport us. Let us take two heads that 
make a pair in the Louvre ; unless I am mistaken, they illustrate 
Classic Beauty, and the Beauty of the Renaissance period. The first 
(No. 384) represents a youth with a profile pure and correct as that of 
a Greek cameo, his neck bare, his long, artistically curled hair bound 
with a wreath of laurel. The second (No. 382, Salle des Boites) has 
the same type, but it is treated in the Italian manner, with greater 
vigour and animation ; the hair is covered by a small cap, set daintily 
on the head ; about the shoulders there are indications of a doublet, 
buttoned to the throat ; the curls fall in natural, untrained locks. Who 
cannot see in these two heads the contrast between classic art, an art 
essentially ideal and devoted to form, and modern art, freer, more 
spontaneous, more living. 

When he depicts maturity, Leonardo displays vigour, energy, 
an implacable determination ; his ideal is a man like an oak-tree. 
Such is the person in profile in the Royal Library at Windsor, 
whose massive features are so firmly modelled. This drawing 
should be compared with the other of the same head, at an 
earlier age. 

Old age in its turn passes before us in all its diverse aspects of 
majesty or decrepitude. Some faces are reduced to the mere bony 
substructure ; in others we note the deterioration of the features ; the 
hooked nose, the chin drawn up to the mouth, the relaxed muscles, the 
bald head. Foremost among these types is the master's portrait of 
himself; a powerful head, with piercing eyes, under puckered eyelids, 
a mocking mouth, almost bitter in expression, a delicate, well-pro- 
portioned nose, long hair, and a long disordered beard ; the whole 
suggestive of the magus, not to say the magician. 

If we turn to his evocations of the feminine ideal, the same fresh- 
ness, the same variety delight us here. His women are now candid, 



I 



THE GENIUS OF LEONARDO 3 

now enigmatic, now proud, now tender, their eyes misty with 
languors, or brilliant with indefinable smiles. And yet, like Donatello, 
he was one of those exceptionally great artists in whose life the love of 
woman seems to have played no part. While Eros showered his 
arrows all around the master, in the epicurean world of the Renais- 
sance ; while Giorgione and Raphael died, the victims of passions too 
fervently reciprocated ; while Andrea del Sarto sacrificed his honour 
to his love for his capricious wife, Lucrezia Fedi ; while Michel- 
angelo himself, the sombre misanthrope, cherished an affection no 
less ardent than respectful for Vittoria Colonna, Leonardo, consecrat- 
ing himself without reserve to art and science, soared above all human 
weaknesses ; the delights of the mind sufficed him. He himself pro- 
claimed it in plain terms : " Fair humanity passes, but art endures. 
(Cosa bella mortal passa e non arte.)" 

No artist was ever so absorbed as he, on the one hand by the 
search after truth, on the other, by the pursuit of an ideal which should 
satisfy the exquisite delicacy of his taste. No one ever made fewer 
sacrifices to perishable emotions. In the five thousand sheets of manu--v^ 
script he left us, never once does he mention a woman's name, except ' 
to note, with the dryness of a professed naturalist, some trait that has 
struck him in her person : " Giovannina has a fantastic face ; she is in 
the hospital, at Santa Catarina." This is typical of his tantalising 
brevity. 

From the very first, we are struck by the care with which Leonardo 
chose his models. He was no advocate for the frank acceptance of 
nature as such, beautiful or ugly, interesting or insignificant. For 
months together he applied himself to the discovery of some remark- 
able specimen of humanity. When once he had laid hands on this 
Phoenix, we know from the portrait of the Gioconda with what tenacity 
he set to work to reproduce it. It is regrettable that he should not 
have shown the same ardour in the pursuit of feminine types, really 
beautiful and sympathetic, seductive or radiant, that he showed in that 
of types of youths and old men, or of types verging on caricature. It 
would have been so interesting to have had, even in a series of 
sketches, a whole iconography by his hand, in addition to the three or 
four masterpieces on which he concentrated his powers ; the unknown 
Princess of the Ambrosiana, Isabella d'Esle, the Belle Ferroniere, and 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 




STUDY OF A YOUTH. 
(Windsor Library ) 



the Gioconda, How was it that all the great 
ladies of the Italian Renaissance did not aspire 
to be immortalised by that magic brush ? 
Leonardo's subtlety and penetration marked 
him out as the interpreter par excellence of 
woman ; no other could have fixed her features 
and analysed her character with a like com- 
mingling of delicacy and distinction. 

And yet, strange to say, by some curious 
and violent revulsion, the artist who had cele- 
brated woman in such exquisite transcriptions, 
took pleasure in noting the extremes of de- 
formity in the sex whose most precious apanage 
is beauty. In a word, the man of science came into conflict with the 
artist ; to types delicious in their youthful freshness, he opposes the 
heads of shrews and im- 
beciles, every variety of 
repulsive distortion. It 
would almost seem— to 
borrow an idea from 
Champfleury — as if he 
sought to indemnify him- 
self for having idealised 
so much in his pictures 
" The Italian master," 
adds Champfleury, " has 
treated womankind more 
harshly than the pro- 
fessed caricaturists, for 
most of these, while pur- 
suing man with their 
sarcasms, seem to protest 
their love for the beautiful 
by respecting woman." 

As a sculptor, Leo- 
nardo distinguished him- 
self by the revival and 




ijV of a volng \voma> 
(Windsor Library.) 



I 
Studies of youthful Heads 



c. /c- 




■inted b^rWittmann Paris (France) 



THE GENIUS OF LEONARDO 




the re-creation — after 
Verrocchio and after 
Donatello — of the monu- 
mental treatment of the 
horse. 

Painter and sculptor, 
Leonardo was also a poet, 
and not among the least 
of these. He is, indeed, 
pre-eminently a poet ; first 
of all, in his pictures, 
which evoke a whole 
world of delicious impres- 
sions ; and secondly, in 
his prose writings, notably 
in his Trattato della Pit- 
tura, which has only lately 
been given to the world 
in its integrity. When 
he consented to silence the analytic faculty so strongly developed in 
him, his imagination took flight with incomparable freedom and 
exuberance. In default of that professional skill, which degenerates 
too easily into routine, we find emo- 
tion, fancy, wealth and originality of 
images ; qualities which also count for 
much. If Leonardo knows nothing 
of current formulae, of winged and 
striking words, of the art of con- 
densation, he acts upon us by some 
indwelling charm, by some magic 
outburst of genius. 

The thinker and the moralist are 
allied to the poet. Leonardo's apho- 
risms and maxims form a veritable 
treasury of Italian wisdom at the time 
of the Renaissance. They are instinct 
with an evangelic gentleness, an in- (Windsor Library.) 



STUDY OF A YOUNG GIRL. 

(Windsor Library.) 







ST'JDY OF A YOUTH 



6 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

finite sweetness and serenity. At one time he advises us to neglect 
studies the results of which die with us ; at another he declares 
that he who wishes to become rich in a day, runs the risk of being 
hanged in a year. The eloquence of certain other thoughts is only 
equalled by their profundity : " Where there is most feeling, there 
will also be most suffering." — " Tears come from the heart, not from 
the brain." It is the physiologist who speaks ; but what thinker would 
not have been proud of this admirable definition ! 

The man of science, in his turn, demands our homage. It is no 
longer a secret to any one that Leonardo was a savant of the highest 
order ; that he discovered twenty laws, a single one of which has 
sufficed for the glory of his successors. What am I saying ? He 
invented the very method of modern science, and his latest biographer, 
M. Seailles ^ has justly shown in him the true precursor of Bacon. 
The names of certain men of genius, Archimedes, Christopher 
Columbus, Copernicus, Galileo, Harvey, Pascal, Newton, Lavoisier, 
Cuvier, are associated with discoveries of greater renown. But is 
there one who united such a multitude of innate gifts, who brought a 
curiosity so passionate, an ardour so penetrating, to bear on such 
various branches of knowledge ; who had such illuminating flashes of 
genius, and such an Intuition of the unknown links connecting things 
capable of being harmonised ? Had his writings been published, they 
would have advanced the march of science by a whole century. We 
cannot sufficiently deplore his modesty, or the sort of horror he had 
of printing. Whereas a scribbler like his friend Fra Luca Pacioli 
comes before the public with several volumes in fine type, Leonardo, 
either by pride or timidity, never published a single line. 

In this brief sketch, we have some of the traits which made 
Leonardo the equal of Michelangelo and Raphael, one of the 
sovereign masters of sentiment, of thought, and of beauty. 

It is time to make a methodical analysis of so many marvels — I 
might say, of so many tours de fo7'ce, were not Leonardo's art 
so essentially healthy and normal, so profoundly vital. 

We will begin by inquiring into the origin and early life of the 
magician. 

The painter of the Last Supper and the Gioconda, the sculptor of 
^ Leonard de Vifici. L Artiste et le Savant. Paris, 1893. 



LEONARDO'S BIRTHPLACE 7 

the equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza, the scientific genius who 
forestalled so many of our modern discoveries and inventions, was 
born in 1452 in the neighbourhood of Empoli, on the right bank 
of the Arno, between Florence and Pisa. The little town of Vinci, in 
which he first saw the light, lies hidden away among the multitudinous 
folds of Monte Albano. On -one side, the plain with its river — now 
almost dry, now rushing in a noisy yellow torrent : on the other, the 
most broken of landscapes ; endless hillocks scattered over with villas, 
and here and there at intervals, a more imposing height, whose bare 
summit is bathed in violet light at sundown. 

Leonardo's native country was such then as we see it to-day ; 
austere in character rather than laughing or exuberant, a rocky 
territory intersected by interminable walls, over which, in the vicinity 
of the houses, some straggling branch of rose-bush may clamber ; 
for nucleus of the vegetation, vines and olive trees. Here and there, 
one catches a glimpse of villa, cottage or farm ; in the distance, 
the dwelling has a smiling air, with its yellow walls and green 
shutters ; but penetrate to the interior, and you will find nakedness 
and poverty — the walls with a simple coating of rough plaster, mortar 
or brick for flooring ; very little furniture, and that of the humblest, 
neither carpets nor wall papers ; nothing to give an impression of 
comfort, not to speak of luxury ; finally, no precautions whatever 
against the cold, which is severe in this part of the country during 
the long winter months. 

On these stern heights a race has grown up, frugal, industrious, 
alert, untouched by the nonchalance of the Roman, by the mysticism 
of the Umbrian, or the nervous excitability of the Neapolitan. 
The majority of the natives are employed in agricultural pursuits ; 
the few artisans being merely for local use. As for the more ambitious 
spirits, for whom the horizon of their villages is too restricted, it is to 
Florence, to Pisa, or to Siena they go to seek their fortunes. 

Certain modern biographers tell us of the castle in which Leonardo 
first saw the light ; over and above this, they conjure up for us a tutor 
attached to the family, a library wherein the child first found 
food for his curiosity, and much besides. But all this — let it be said at 
once — is legend and not history. 

There was, it is true, a castle at Vinci, but it was a fortress, a 



8 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

stronghold held by Florence. As to Leonardo's parents, they can 
only have occupied a house, and a very modest one at that, nor do 
we even know for certain if this house was situated within the walls of 
Vinci itself, or a little beyond it, in the village of Anchiano.^ The 
domestic service consisted of one /ante, that is, a woman servant, at a 
wage of eight florins per annum. 

If there ever was a family to whom the culture of the arts was 
foreign, it was that of Leonardo. Of five forbears of the painter on 
his father's side, four had filled the position of notary, from which 
these worthy officials derived their title of " Ser " corresponding to the 




OF THE TOW^ 



PVench " Maitre " : these were the father of the artist, his grandfather, 
great-grandfather, and great-great-grandfather. We need not be 
surprised to find this independent spirit par excellence developing in 
the midst of musty law-books. The Italian notary in no wise 
resembled the pompous scrivener of modern playwrights. In the 
thirteenth century, Brunetto Latini, Dante's master, was essentially 
wanting in the pedantic gravity which we are accustomed to associate 
with his profession. In the following century, another notary — Ser 

^ This last hypothesis is vigorously contested by Signor Uzielli {Ricerche, 2nd ed. 
vol. i. pp. 38-40), who shows that Leonardo's father owned no property at Anchiano till 
after the birth of his son. 

2 Our illustration reproduces a view of the town of Vinci from Signor Uzielli's Ricerche 
intorno a Leo?iardo da Vm ci {ist ed. 1872, vol. i. frontispiece ; 2nd ed. 1896, vol. i. p. 3.) 



LEONARDO'S FAMILY 



Lappo Mazzei de Prato — made himself famous by his letters, rich in 
racy traits of contemporary manners, and written in the purest Tuscan 
idiom. Finally, in the fifteenth century, the notary of Nantiporta 
edited a chronicle — occasionally far from edifying — of the Roman 
court. Here too, we may recall the fact that Brunellesco and Masaccio 
were the sons of notaries. 

One point of capital interest in retracing the origin of Leonardo 
and his family connections, 
is the strange freak of 
fate in bringing forth this 
artistic phenomenon from 
the union of a notary and 
a peasant girl, and in the 
midst of the most com- 
monplace and practical 
surroundings. It is very 
well in speaking of 
Raphael, for instance, to 
talk of race selection, of 
hereditary predisposition, 
of educational incitements. 
The truth is, that with 
the vast majority of our 
famous artists the apti- 
tudes and special faculties 
of the parents count for 
nothing, and that the 
personal vocation, the 
mysterious gift, is everything. Oh, vain theories of Darwin and of 
Lombroso, does not the unaccountable apparition of great talents 
and genius perpetually set your theories at naught ? Just as nothing 
in the profession of Leonardo's forefathers gave any promise of 
developing the artistic vocation, so the nephew and grand-nephews of 
the great man sank to simple tillers of the soil. Thus does nature mock 
our speculations ! Could the disciples of Darwin carry out their scheme 
of cross-breeding on the human species, there is every chance that 
the result would be a race rather of monsters than of superior beings. 

c 




STUDY OF OLD MAN. 

(The Uffizi, Florence ) 



lo LEONARDO DA VINCI 

However, if it were not in the power of Leonardo's parents to 
transmit s^enius to him, they at least were able to provide him with 
robust health, and a generous heart. 

As a child, Leonardo must have known his paternal grandfather, 
Antonio di Ser Piero, who was eighty-four years of age when the boy 
was five ; also his grandmother, who was twenty-one years younger 
than her husband.^ Further details as to these two personages are 
wanting, and I confess frankly that I shall not attempt to pierce the 
obscurity which surrounds them. But it would be inexcusable in me 
not to employ every means in my power to follow up at least some 
characteristic traits of their son, the father of Leonardo. 

Ser Piero was twenty-two or twenty-three years of age at the time 
of Leonardo's birth. He was — and despite their apparent dryness, 
existing documents testify to this — an active, intelligent, and enter- 
prising man, the veritable builder up of the family fortunes. Starting 
from the smallest beginnings,^ he rapidly extended his practice and 
acquired piece after piece of landed property ; in short, from a poor 
village notary he rose to be a wealthy and much respected personage. 
In 1498, for instance, we find him owner of several houses and various 
pieces of land of more or less extent. Judging by the brilliant 
impulse he gave to his fortunes, by his four marriages, preceded by 
an irregular connection, and also by his numerous progeny, his was 
assuredly a vivid and exuberant nature, one of those patriarchal figures 

^ In 1469-70 the family consisted of the grandmother Lucia, aged seventy-four, of 
Ser Piero (forty), and his wife Francesca (twenty), of Francesco, Piero's brother (thirty- 
two), member of the "Arte della seta," of Alessandra, wife of Francesco (iwenty-six) 
and of Leonardo, Piero's illegitimate son (eighteen). They inhabited a house near the 
church — "nel popolo di S. Croce," a district of Vinci. In Florence they occupied 
half a house, for which they paid 24 florins a year. They also owned a house at Fiesole. 
(Amoretti, Memorie storiche su la vita, gli studj e le opere di Lionardo da Vinci, Milan, 
1804, pp. 7, 9. Uzielli, loc. cit.) 

2 One of his appointments— that of procurator to the Convent of the Annunciation — 
only brought him in emoluments to the amount of 2 florins (about ^£4) a year. In 
1451, his father's income from real estate came to about ^^30 of English money. 
When this fortune came to be divided between the two sons, Ser Piero drew an 
income of about 400 francs from the paternal heritage. Vasari names Ser Piero, the 
father of Leonardo, among the organisers of the pageant given in 15 13 to celebrate the 
accession of Leo X. to the papal throne. But as Ser Piero died in 1504 the office must 
have been held by one of his sons — Ser Giuliano— of whom we know for certain that he 
took part in the organisation of the pageants in the carnival of 1515 — 1516. (Vasari, ed. 
Milan, vol. vi. p. 251.) 



LEONARDO'S FAMILY ti 

Benozzo Gozzoll painted with so much spirit on the walls of the Campo 
Santo at Pisa. 

While yet very young, Ser Piero formed a connertion with her 
who, though never his wife, became the mother of his eldest son. 
This was a certain Catarina, in all probability a simple peasant girl of 
Vinci or the neighbourhood. (An anonymous writer of the sixteenth 
century affirms, nevertheless, that Leonardo was " per madre nato di 
bon sangue.") The liaison was of short duration. Ser Piero married 
in the year of Leonardo's birth, while Catarina, in her turn, married a 
man of her own standing, who answered to the not very euphonious 
name of Chartabrigha or Accartabrigha di Piero del Vaccha, a peasant 
too, most likely — indeed, what was there to turn to in Vinci for a living, 
except the soil ! Contrary to modern custom and the civil code, the 
father undertook the rearing of the child. 

In the beginning, Leonardo's position was, relatively speaking, 
enviable, his first two stepmothers having no children — a circumstance 
which has not been taken into account hitherto, and which goes far to 
explain how they came to adopt the little intruder : he usurped no 
one's birthright. ^ 

Leonardo was three and twenty when his father — who made up so 
well for lost time afterwards — was still waiting for legitimate offspring. 
With the arrival of the first brother, however, the young man's 
happiness fled, and there was no more peace for him under his father's 
roof. He realised that nothing remained for him but to seek his 
fortune elsewhere, and did not wait to be told twice. From this 
moment, too, his name vanishes from the family list in the official 
records. 

On more than one occasion, Leonardo mentions his parents, 
notably his father, whom he designates by his tide of " Ser " Piero, 
but without one word by which one may judge of his feelings towards 
them. One might be tempted to tax him with want of heart, if 
such an absence of sentiment were not a characteristic feature of the 
times. Both parents and children made a virtue of repressing their 

1 A certain Alessandro degli Amatori, a brother of Ser Piero's first wife, alludes to 
Leonardo as his nephew, although, in reality, there was no legal relationship between 
them. In 1506 particularly, this person made himself the assiduous interpreter to 
Leonardo of the wishes of the Marchesa Isabella d'Este. (Yriarte, Gazette des Beaux 
Arts, 1888, vol. i. p. 128-129.) 

C 2 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



emotions ; guarding themselves especially against the slightest 
manifestation of sentimentality. No period ever exhibited a more 
marked aversion for the emotional or the pathetic. Only here and 
there, in letters — for example, in the admirable letters of a Florentine 
patrician, Alessandra Strozzi, mother of the famous banker, — some 
irrepressible cry of the heart escapes. 

This notwithstanding, Leonardo's impassibility exceeds all bounds, 

and constitutes a veri- 
table psychological 
problem. The master 
registers v^ithout one 
word of regret, of anger, 
or of emotion, the petty 
thefts of his pupil, the 
fall of his patron, Lodo- 
vico il Moro, the death 
of his father. 

And yet we know 
what a wealth of kind- 
ness and affection was 
stored up in him ; how 
he was indulgent, even 
to weakness, towards his 
servants, deferred to 
their caprices, tended 
them in sickness, and 
provided marriage por- 
tions for their sisters. 
Let us forthwith con- 
clude the story ot Leonardo's connection with his natural family, 
which was very far from being his adoptive one. Ser Piero died 
July 9, 1504, at the age of seventy-seven, and not eighty, as 
Leonardo reports when registering his death in laconic terms.^ Of 

1 " Adi 9 di Luglio 1504, mercoledi a ore 7 mori ser Piero da Vinci, notaio al 
palazzo del Potestk, mio padre, a ore 7. Era d'eta d'anni 80, lascio 10 figlioli maschi e 
2 femmine." (J. P. Richter, The Literary Works of Leonardo da Vinci, vol. ii. p. 416. 
London, 1883. 2 vols. 4to. We have borrowed several plates from this richly illustrated 
work.) 




STUDIES OF INFANTS (FOR THE SAINT ANNE). 
(Musee Cond.;, Chantilly.) 



LEONARDO'S FAMILY 



his four stepmothers, the last only, Lucrezia, who was still alive in 
1520, is mentioned in terms of praise by a poet-friend of Leonardo, 
Bellincioni. As to the nine sons and two daughters, all the issue 
of the two last marriages of his father, they seem to have been rather 
the adversaries than the 
"friends of their natural 
brother. After the death 
of their uncle in 1507, 
more especially, they 
raised financial difficul- 
ties. By his will of 
August 12, 1504, Fran- 
cesco da Vinci had left a 
few acres to Leonardo — 
hence a lawsuit. Later, 
however, a reconciliation 
was effected. In 15 13, 
during Leonardo's resi- 
dence in Rome, one of his 
sisters-in-law charged her 
husband to remember her 
to the artist, then at the 
height of his glory. In 
his will, Leonardo left his 
brothers, in token of his 
regard, the 400 florins he 
had deposited at the 
Hospital of Santa Maria 
Novella in Florence. 
Finally, his beloved dis- 
ciple, Melzi, in his letter 
to Leonardo's brothers 
informing them of the 

master's death, adds that he has bequeathed them his little pro- 
perty at Fiesole. The will, however, is silent on this point. 
Besides all this, one of his youthful productions, the cartoon of 
Adam and Eve, remained in the possession of one of his kinsmen 




STUDY OF A YOUNG WOW 

(Windsor Library.) 



T4 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

(Vasari says his uncle) who afterwards presented it to Ottavio 
de' Medici. 

No other member of the da Vinci family made his mark in history, 
with the exception of a nephew of Leonardo, Pierino, an able sculptor, 
who died in Pisa towards the middle of the sixteenth century at the 
early age of thirty three. The sole trait which the Vinci seem to 
have inherited from their common ancestor is a rare vitality. Ser 
Piero's stock has survived even to our own times. In 1869 Signor 
Uzielli, a most lucky investigator, discovered a peasant named 
Tommaso Vinci, near Montespertoli, at a place called Bottinaccio. 
After due verification, this peasant who had the family papers in his 
possession ^ and who, Hke his ancestor, Ser Piero, was blessed with a 
numerous progeny, was found to be a -descendant of Domenico, one of 
Leonardo's brothers. A pathetic touch in a family so cruelly fallen 
from its high estate is the fact that Tommaso da Vinci gave his 
eldest son the glorious n ame of Leonard o. On page 15 we give 
the genealogy of the family of da Vinci as drawn up by Signor 
Uzielli. 

Nothing can equal the vital force of Italian families. That of 
Michelangelo still exists, like that of Leonardo. But how sadly 
fallen! When, on the occasion of the centenary festivals in 1875, any 
possibly remaining members of the Buonarroti family were searched 
for, it came to light that the head of the family, Count Buonarroti, had 
been condemned to the galleys for forgery ; another Buonarroti was 
a cabdriver in Siena, and yet another a common soldier. Let us 
hope that in honour of his glorious ancestor he was advanced to the 
rank of general ! If the latest scions of Leonardo's house do not 
occupy a brilliant position, at least there is no stain upon the honour of 
their name. 

Having acquainted ourselves with the family of Leonardo da Vinci, 
it is time to analyse the qualities of this child of genius, this splendidly 
endowed nature, this accomplished cavalier, this Proteus, Hermes, 
Prometheus, appellations which recur every moment under the pens of 
his dazzled contemporaries." " We see how Providence," exclaims 
one of these, " rains down the most precious gifts on certain men, often 

1 These papers now form part of the archives of the Accademia dei Lincei, Rome. 

2 Lomazzo, Trattato della Pittura. 



LEONARDO'S EARLY YOUTH 15 

with regularity, sometimes in profusion ; we see it combine unstint- 
ingly in the same being beauty, grace, talent, bringing each of these 
qualities to such perfection that whichev^er way the privileged 
one turns, his every action is divine, and, excelling those of all 
other men, his qualities appear what, in reality, they are : accorded 
by God, and not acquired by human industry. Thus it was with 
Leonardo da Vinci, in whom were united physical beauty beyond all 



GENEALOGY OF THE DA VINCI FAMILY : 

Ser MiCHELE da Vinci Notary. 

Ser GuiDO Notary (living in 1339). 

Ser PiERO Notary (living in 1381). 

Antonio (born in 1372). 

Ser PiERO Notary (1427 — r5o4). 

WIVES OF SER PIERO: 

1. Albiera di Giovanni Amadori, 3. Margherita di Francesco di Jacopo 

married 1452. di (juglielmo, married before 

2. Francesca di ser Giuliano Lan- 1476- 

fredini, married 1465. | 4. Lucrezia di Guglielmo Cortigiani. 

CHILDREN OF SER PIEKO : 
Leonardo Illegitimate. 



Chi Id r 671 of the Third Marriage : 

Antonio born 1476. 

Ser Giuliano born 1479. 

Lorenzo born 1484. 

Violante born 1485. 

Domenico, born i486. Descendants 

living at the present day. I Pierino da Vinci. 

Giovanni 



Childre?i of the Fourth Marriage : 

Margherita born 1 49 1 . 

Benedetto born 1492. 

Pandolfo born 1494. 

Guglielmo born 1496. 

Bartolommeo, born 1497, ancestor of 



praise, and infinite grace in all his actions ; as for his talent, it was 
such that, no matter what difficulty presented itself, he solved it with- 
out effort. In him dexterity was allied to exceeding great strength ; 
his spirit and his courage showed something kingly and magnanimous. 
Finally, his reputation assumed such dimensions that, wide-spread as 
it was during his life-time, it extended still further after his death." 
Vasari, to whom we owe this eloquent appreciation, concludes with a 
phrase, untranslatable in its power of rendering the majesty of the 
person described : " Lo splendor dell' aria sua, che bellissimo era, 



i6 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 




rissereneva ogni animo mesto." (" The splendour of his aspect, which 
was beautiful beyond measure, rejoiced the most sorrowful souls.") 

Leonardo was gifted by nature with most unusual 

r"'^"~ muscular strength : he could twist the 

^.-([^ "^ clapper of a bell or a horse-shoe as if it 

\3^ <v=ji-v.,— .^'■^ were of lead, A species of infirmity, 

however, was mingled with this extra- 
ordinary aptitude : the artist was left- 
handed — his biographers assert this formally ^ 
— and in his old age, paralysis finally deprived 
him of the use of his right hand. 

The Renaissance had already produced one 
of these exceptional organisations, combining 
the rarest intellectual aptitudes with every 
physical perfection, beauty, dexterity, strength. 
At once mathematician, poet, musician, philoso- 
pher, architect, sculptor, an ardent disciple of 
the ancients, and a daring innovator, Leone 
Battista Alberti, the great Florentine thinker 
and artist, excelled in all physical exercises. 
The most fiery horses trembled before him ; he could leap over 
the shoulders of a grown man with his feet touching each other ; in 
the cathedral at Florence he would throw a coin into the air with 
such force that it was heard 
to ring against the vaulted 
roof of the gigantic edifice. 
The temple of S. Francis at 
Rimini, the Rucellai palace 
in Florence, the invention 
of the camera lucida, the 
earliest use of free verse 
in the Italian language, the 
reorganisation of the Italian 

1 " Quella ineffabile senistra mano a tutte discipline matematiche accomodatissima " — 
" Scrivesi ancora alio rovescia e mancina che non si posson leggere se non con lo 
specchio, ovvero guardando la carta del suo rovescio contro alia luce, como so m'intendi 
senz' altro dica, e come fa il nostro Leonardo da Vinci, lume . . . della pittura, qual' e 
mancino, come pih volte e detto." (Pacioli, De Diviiia Froportione.) 



STUDY OF YOUTH (fOR THE ADORATION 
OF THE magi). 

(Collection P. Valton.) 




STUDY OF HELMETED HEADS. 

(Windsor Library.) 



II 
Study of Drapery. 

WINDSOU l.ll'.HAl;V.) 




Pr'inted b^ Willmar.n Paris (Fran, 



LEONARDO'S CHARACTER 



theatre, treatises on painting, on sculpture, and many other works of 
the highest merit — such are Alberti's titles to the admiration and 
gratitude of posterity. But 
the Renaissance, on ap- 
proaching maturity, was 
to endow another son of 
Florence with yet greater 
power, a still wider range. 
Compared with Leonardo 
how pedantic, how nar- 
row, nay, how timorous 
Alberti appears ! 

These faculties of the 
mind in no wise prejudiced 
the qualities of the heart. 
Like Raphael, Leonardo 
was distinguished for his 
infinite kindliness, like him 
he lavished interest and 
affection even upon dumb 
animals. Leonardo, Vasari 
tells us, had so much 
charm of manner and con- 
versation that he won all hearts. Though, in a certain sense, 
he had nothing of his own and worked little, he always found 
means to keep servants and horses, of which latter he was very 
fond, as indeed of all animals ; he reared and trained them with as 
much love as patience. Often, passing the places where they sold 
birds, he would buy some, and taking them out of their cages with 
his own hand, restore them to liberty. A contemporary of Leonardo, 
Andrea Corsali, writes from India in 1515 to Giuliano de' Medici, that 
like " il nostro Leonardo da Vinci " the inhabitants of these regions 
permit no harm to be done to any living creature.^ This longing for 
affection, this liberality, this habit of looking upon their pupils as their 




IE UNBELIEF OF S. THU.MAS, BY VERROCCHIO. 

(Or San Michele, Florence.) 



1 It appears from Corsali's letter that Leonardo ate no meat, but lived entirely on 
vegetables, thus forestalling our modern vegetarians by several centuries. (Richter's The 
Literary Works of Leonardo da Vinci, vol. ii. p. 130.) 

D 



1 8 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

family, are traits wliich the two great painters have in common, but are 
the very traits which distinguish them from Michelangelo, the mis- 
anthropic, solitary artist, the sworn foe of feasting and pleasure. In 
his manner of shaping his career, however, Raphael approaches far 
nearer to Michelangelo than to Leonardo, who was proverbially 
easy-going and careless. Raphael, on the contrary, prepared his future 
with extreme care ; not only gifted but industrious, he occupied himself 
early in the foundation of his fortune ; whereas Leonardo lived from 
--^Jiand to mouth, and subordinated his own interests to the exigencies of 
science. 

From the very beginning — and on this point we do not hesitate to 
accept Vasari's testimony — the child showed an immoderate, at times 
even extravagant, thirst for knowledge of every description ; he would 
have made extraordinary progress, had it not been for his marked 
instability of purpose. He threw himself ardently into the study 
of one science after another, went at a bound to the very root of 
questions, but abandoned work as readily as he had begun it. During 
the few months he devoted to arithmetic, or rather to mathematics, 
he acquired such knowledge of the subject that he nonplussed his 
r master every moment, and put him to the blush. Music had no less 
attraction for him ; he excelled particularly on the lute, which instru- 
ment he used later for the accompaniment of the songs he improvised.^ 
In short, like another Faust, he desired to traverse the vast cycle of 
human knowledge, and, not content to have assimilated the discoveries 
of his contemporaries, to address himself directly to nature in order 
to extend the field of science. 

We have now pointed out the rare capacities of the young genius, 
the variety of his tastes and acquirements ; his pre-eminence in all 
bodily exercises and all intellectual contests ; it is time to consider 
the use he made of such exceptional gifts. Despite his precocious 
versatility, one ruling faculty soon showed itself conspicuously in him, 
and that was a strong, an irresistible vocation for the arts of design. 
In studying his first original productions, we discover that, to a far 
greater degree than Raphael, Leonardo was a prodigy. The latest 
researches have proved how slow and toilsome was the development 

1 On Leonardo as a musician see the Ricerche of Sig. Uzielli, 2nd ed., vol. i. 
PP- 551— 511- 



FLORENCE IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY 19 

of the artist of Urbino, through what arduous labour he had to 
pass before he could give free play to his originality. There was 
nothing of this with Leonardo. From the first, he declares himself 
with admirable authority and originality. Not that he was a facile 
worker — no artist produced more slowly- — but, from the very outset, 
his vision was so personal, that from being the pupil of his masters, 
he became their initiator. 

Leonardo's father seems to have resided more often in Florence 
than in Vinci, and it was undoubtedly in the capital of Tuscany, 
and not in the obscure little town of Vinci, that the brilliant faculties 
of the child were unfolded. The site of the house occupied by the 
family has recently been determined ; it stood in the Piazza San 
Firenze, on the spot where the Gondi palace now stands, and disap- 
peared towards the end of the fifteenth century, when Giuliano Gondi 
pulled it down to make room for the palace to which he gave his 
name. 

What Florence was during that period of political exhaustion, 
of industrial and commercial prosperity, of literary, scientific, and 
artistic exaltation, I shall not attempt to set forth here. Among my 
present readers there are, perhaps, some who have not forgotten 
earlier publications of mine, notably Les Prdcurseitrs de la Renaissance, 
in which I traced a picture — fairly complete, I think — of intellectual 
life on the banks of the Arno In the time of Lorenzo the Magnificent. 

Towards the period when the da Vinci family settled in Florence, 
the Florentine school had arrived at one of those climacteric crises at 
which a power must either abdicate, or start afresh on new lines. The 
revolution Inaugurated by Brunellesco, Donatello, and Masaccio had 
effected all It was capable of effecting ; and we see their successors in 
the last part of the fifteenth century wavering between Imitation and 
mannerism, powerless to fertilise an exhausted Inheritance. In archi- 
tecture, great as was the talent of the San Galli, the sceptre speedily 
passed Into the hands of Bramante of Urbino, then Into those of the 
representatives of Upper Italy — VIgnole, who was born near Modena, 
Serlio, a native of Bologna, Palladio, most famous of the sons of 
Vicenza. In sculpture, one Florentine only had achieved a com- 
manding position since Verrocchio and Pollajuolo ; it is true that his 

D 2 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 




G OF SAINT JOHN THE BAPTIST, 
BY VERROCCHIO. 



(Museum of the Duomo, Florence.) 



name was Michaelangelo ; but what hopeless mediocrity surrounded 
him, and how one feels that here too the last word had been said.! 
^ ~:A.s in all periods in which inspiration fails, there reigned in the 
Florentine studios a spirit of discussion, of death-dealing criticism, 

j eminently calculated, to discourage 
and enervate. No longer capable 
of producing strong and simple 
works like the glorious masters 
of the first half of the century, 
Masaccio, Fra Angelico, Piero della 
Francesca, or even Andrea del 
Castagno, every painter strove after 
novelty, originality, " terribilita " — 
the word by which Vasari desig- 
nates this tendency — hoping there- 
' by to place himself above criticism. 
No artists could be more mannered than these Florentine painters of 
the end of the fifteenth century ; one would willingly give all the 
cunning of a Pollajuolo for a dash of inspiration. In female beauty, 
the prevailing ideal was a morbid and suffering type, pale and wasted 
faces, drooping eyelids, veiled glances, plaintive smiles : If they 
charm In spite of their Incorrect lines it is because they reflect a 
last ray of the mystical poetry of the middle ages. This Ideal, as far 
removed from the robust and almost virile figures of Masaccio, of 
Piero della Francesca, of Andrea del Castagno, as it was from the 
severe though dry distinction of Ghirlandajo's type, was affected, 
first and foremost, by Fra Fllippo LIppo, who was Imitated by his 
son Fillpplno and by Botticelli. It was mannerism In one of Its most 
dangerous forms. 

But let us hear what Leonardo himself has to say, and how clearly 
he defines the part played by Giotto and afterwards by Masaccio, 
whose frescoes he no doubt copied, as did all young Florence at that 
time. " After these came Giotto the Florentine, who — not content 
with Imitating the works of Cimabue, his master — being born In the 
mountains, and In a solitude Interrupted only by goats and such beasts, 
and being guided by Nature to his art, began by drawing on the rocks 
the movements of the goats of which he was keeper. And thus he 



FLORENCE IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY 



began to draw all the animals which were to be found in the country, 
and in such wise that after much study he excelled not only all the 
masters of his time, but all those of many bygone ages." (We may 
note in passing that Leonardo's testimony confirms the touching 
account — sometimes questioned — which Ghiberti and Vasarl have 
given us of the early efforts of Giotto). " Afterwards this art 
declined again, because every one imitated the pictures that were 
already done. Thus it went on from century to century until Thomas 
of Florence, nicknamed Masaccio, showed by his perfect works, that 
those who take for their standard any one but Nature — the mistress 
of all masters — weary 
themselves in vain."^ 

According to a story 
which has all the appear- 
ance of truth, Ser Piero 
da Vinci, struck by the 
marked aptitude of his 
son, took some of his 
sketches to his friend 
Verrocchio and begged 
him to give his opinion 
on them. The impression 
made, we are told, was 
excellent, and Verrocchio 
did not hesitate to accept 
the youth as his pupil. 

If we assume that 

Leonardo was then about 

fifteen, we shall be within 

range of probability in 

default of any certain 

statement on the subject. As I have shown elsewhere,'-^ the majority 

of the artists of the Renaissance were distinguished for their 

precocity. Andrea del Sarto began his apprenticeship at seven years 

of age ; Perugino at nine ; Fra Bartolommeo at ten ; at fifteen 

^ Richter. The Literary Works of Leonardo da Vinci, vol. i. p. 332. 
^ See my Raphael^ 2nd ed., pp. 19, 39 — 40. 




■HE CHILD Wn 



(Pala 



A DOLPHIN, BY VERROCCHIO. 

Vecchio, Florence.) 



22 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

Michelangelo executed the mask of a satxr which attracted the 
notice of Lorenzo the Magnificent ; finally, Mantegna painted his 
first masterpiece — the Madonna of the church of S. Sophia at Padua 
— when he war, seventeen. 

Autres temps, autres moeurs ! Nowadays, at thirty, an artist is 
considered young and brilliant, with all his future before him. Four 
hundred years ago many a great artist had said his last word at that 
age. 

Apprenticeship properly so-called — by which the pupil entered 
the family of the master — was for two, four, or six years according to 
the age of the apprentice ; this was succeeded by associateship, the 
duration of which also varied according to age, and during which the 
master gave remuneration to a greater or less amount (Lorenzo di 
Credi, Leonardo's fellow-student, received twelve florins, about 
£2\ a year). Mastership was the final point of this long and 
strenuous initiation.^ 

Before studying the relations between Leonardo da Vinci and 
Verrocchio we will endeavour to define the character and talents of the 
latter.2 

Andrea Verrocchio (born in 1435) was only seventeen years older 
than his pupil, an advantage which would seem relatively slight over 
such a precocious genius as Leonardo ; we may add that the worthy 
Florentine sculptor had developed very slowly, and had long been 
absorbed by goldsmith's work and other tasks of a secondary character. 
Notwithstanding his growing taste for sculpture on a grand scale, he 

1 These patriarchal customs remained in force till well into the eighteenth century. 
Thus Sebastien Bourdon spent seven years under his first master though, it is true, he 
was only fourteen when he left him. In 1664, the statutes of the Paris Academy of 
Painting and Sculpture fixed three years as the average term of apprenticeship ; each 
member of the Academy might only receive one pupil at a time. 

■^ In my Histoire de PArt fe?idant la Renaissatice (vol. ii. p. 497) and in the Gazette dcs 
Beaux-Arts (1891, vol. ii. p. 277 — 287) I have endeavoured to describe the evolution 
of Verrocchio's talent and to draw up a catalogue of his works. I here add a few notes to 
my forriier essays. If the tomb of Giovanna Tornabuoni, formerly in the church of the 
Minerva at Rome, is now generally recognised as a production from the studio of the 
master, but not by his own hand, a learned critic, Herr Bode, attributes to Verrocchio 
various bas-reliefs in bronze and stucco : the Descent from the Cross with the portrait 
of Duke Federigo of Urbino (?) in the church of the Carmine at Venice 3 the Discord 
in the South Kensington Museum, the Judgment of Paris, a bronze plaque in the 
collection of M. Gustave Dreyfus of Paris {Archivio storico deW Arte, 1893, pp. 77- 84) 
These compositions are essentially loose and supple in treatment. 



ANDREA VERROCCHIO 23 

undertook to the last those decorative works which were the deHght 
of his contemporaries, the Majani, the Civitah', the Ferrucci. We 
learn from a document of 1488 that up till the very eve of his death 
he was engaged upon a marble fountain for King Mathias Corvinus.^ 
Herein he shows himself a true quattrocentist. 

The following are a few dates by which to fix the chronology of the 
master's work. 

In 1468 — 1469 we find him engaged on a bronze candelabrum 
for the Palazzo Vecchio. In 1472, he executed the bronze sar- 
cophagus of Giovanni and Piero de' Medici in the sacristy of the 
church of San Lorenzo. In 1474, he began the mausoleum of 
Cardinal Forteguerra in the cathedral at Pistoja. The bronze statue of 
David (in the Museo Nazionale, Florence) brought him into evidence 
at last in 1476. Then came (in 1477) the small bas-relief of the 
Beheading of John the Baptist, destined for the silver altar of the 
Baptistery; between 1476 and 1483 the Unbelief of S. Thomas; finally, 
towards the end of a career that was all too short (Verrocchio died in 
1488, at the age of fifty-three), the equestrian statue of Colleone, his 
unfinished masterpiece. 

The impetus necessary to set this somewhat slow and confused 
intelligence soaring was — so the biographer Vasari affirms — a sight of 
the masterpieces of antiquity in Rome. For my part, I am inclined 
to attribute Verrocchio's evolution to the influence of Leonardo, so 
rapidly transformed from the pupil into the master of his master ; 
an influence which caused those germs of beauty, scattered at first but 
sparsely through Verrocchio's work, attained to maturity in the superb 
group of The Unbelief of S. Thomas and the Angels of the Forte- 
guerra monument, rising finally to the virile dignity, the grand style, 
of the Colleone. 

Compared with the part played by Michelangelo, that of Ver- 
rocchio, the last great Florentine sculptor of the fifteenth century, 
may appear wanting in brilliance ; it was assuredly not wanting in 
utility. Verrocchio was before all things a seeker, if not a finder ; 
essentially incomplete in organisation, but most suggestive in spirit, he 
sowed more than he reaped, and produced more pupils than master- 
pieces. The revolution he brought about with Leonardo's co-operation 
^ Gaye, Carteggio, vol. i. pp. 569 — 570. Cf. p. 575. 



24 



LEONARDO ]^A VINCI 



was big with consequences ; it aimed at nothing less than the 
substitution of the picturesque, sinuous, undulating, living element, 
for the plastic and decorative formulae, sometimes a little over-facile, 
of his predecessors. Nothing, as a rule, could be less precise than 
his contours ; the general outline is difficult to seize ; above all 
things, he lacks the art of harmonising a statue or a bas-relief with 
the surrounding architecture, as is abundantly proved by his C/iiVf/ 




f\^\ ^''.Mm.^//;ifA^ 



BUST OF COLLEONE, BY VERROCCHIO. 

(Piazza di SS. Giovanni e Paoli, Venice.) 



zuit/i a Dolphin with its strained, improbable, and yet delicious, atti- 
tude. He is the master of puckered faces, of crumpled, tortured 
draperies ; no one could be less inspired by the antique, as regards 
clearness of conception, or distinction and amplitude of form. But 
there is an extraordinary sincerity in his work ; he makes a quiver 
of life run through frail limbs, reproduces the soft moisture of the 
skin, obtains startling effects of chiaroscuro with his complex draperies, 
gives warmth and colour to subjects apparently the most simple. 
This' reaction against the cold austerity of the two Tuscan masters 



ANDREA VERROCCHIO 



25 



most in favour at the time, Mino di Fiesole and Matteo Civitale di 
Lucca, was much needed, though Verrocchio has perhaps rather 
overshot the mark. 

His favourite type of beauty is somewhat unheahhy, and not wholly 
devoid of affectation. Ghirlandajo's Florentine women are haughty 
and impassive ; Botticelli's fascinating in their guileless tenderness ; 
Verrocchio's are pensive and melancholy. Even his men — take the 
S. Thomas, for instance 
— have a plaintive dis- 
illusioned smile, the Leo- 
nardesque smile. 

All there is of femi- 
nine, one might almost 
say effeminate, in Leo- 
nardo's art, the delicacy, 
the morbide zza, the 
suavity, appear, though 
often merely in embryo, 
in the work of Andrea 
Verrocchio. 

To sum up, Verrocchio 
is the plastic artist, 
deeply enamoured of 
form, delighting in hol- 
lowing it out, in fining it 
down ; he has none of the 
literary temperament of a 

Donatello, a Mantegna, masters who, in order to give expression to 
the passions that stir them, to realise their ideal, need a vast theatre, 
numerous actors, dramatic subjects. There is no mise-en- scene, no 
searching after recondite ideas with Verrocchio, any more than with 
Leonardo. The simplest subject — a child playing with a dolphin, a 
woman holding a flower — suffices them for the condensation of all 
their poetry, all their science. 

A critic has spoken of the natural sympathy between Verrocchio 
and Leonardo. " In neither artist," says Rio, the eloquent and intole- 
rant author of VArt ChrMien, " does harmony exclude force ; they 




HEAD OF A SAINT, BY PERUGINO. 

(Church of Santa Maria Maddalena dei Pazzi, Florence.) 



26 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

show the same admiration for the masterpieces of Greek and Roman 
antiquity, the same predominance of the plastic quaHtles, the same 
passion for finish of details In great as well as small compositions, the 
same respect for perspective and geometry in their connection with 
painting, the same pronounced taste for music, the same tendency to 
leave a work unfinished, and begin a fresh one, and, more remarkable 
still, the same predilection for the war-horse, the monumental horse, 
and all the studies appertaining thereto." But are not these points 
of contact rather due to chance than any intellectual relationship 
between the two temperaments ? and may not more than one of the 
arguments brought forward by Rio be equally well turned against him ? 
Verrocchio was a limited spirit, a prosaic character ; Leonardo, on the 
other hand, was the personification of unquenchable curiosity, of aristo- 
cratic tastes, of innate grace and elegance. The one raises himself 
laboriously towards a higher ideal ; the other brings that ideal with 
him into the world. 

We shall see presently what was Leonardo's attitude with respect 
to his master's teaching. For the moment we will confine ourselves 
to affirming that never did artist revolt more openly against all 
methodical and continuous work. 

Under this master — so essentially suggestive — Leonardo was 
thrown with several fellow-students who, without attaining his glory, 
achieved a brilliant place among painters. The chief of these was 
Perugino. Born in 1446, and consequently six years older than 
Leonardo, the young Umbrian artist had passed through the most 
severe trials before becoming known, perhaps even before winning 
the attention of so reputed a master as Verrocchio. For long months 
together, Vasari tells us, he had no bed but an old wooden chest, and 
was constrained to sit up for whole nights working for his living. 
When he placed himself under Verrocchio, or when he left him, no 
one knows. The very fact of a connection between the two artists 
has been questioned. It is true, of course, that Verrocchio only prac- 
tised painting incidentally and did not shine in that branch of art ; by 
trade, we know, he was a goldsmith ; he became a sculptor from 
inclination. Perugino, however, differing in this from the majority 
of truly universal and encyclopaedic artists of his time, was a painter 
and nothing else ; why then should he have put himself under a 



LEONARDO'S FELLOW-STUDENTS 27 

master to whom this branch of art was practically foreign ? Moreover, 
if one studies closely the analogies between the productions of 
Verrocchio and those of his two undisputed pupils, Leonardo da 
Vinci and Lorenzo di Credi, and then the traces of relationship 
between the works of the two latter, one is forced to acknowledge 
that at no period of an extraordinarily prolific career does the manner 
of Perugino present the slightest family resemblance to that of his 
reputed master, or his reputed fellow-students. His warm and 
lustrous scale of colour, his sharply accentuated outlines, and above 
all, his favourite types, taken exclusively from his native country, 
and showing all the meagreness of the Umbrian race, are all his 
own. At the most, his sojourn in Florence and, later on, in 
Rome, familiarised him with certain accessories then in fashion, for 
instance, those ornaments in the antique style which he introduced 
lavishly in his pictures, where they proclaim their want of harmony 
with the rest of the composition, the sentiment of which is so 
unclassical. 

We must be careful, however, to question the testimony of an 
author usually so well informed as Vasari on such evidence. If we 
consider the house of Verrocchio not as an artist's studio, strictly 
speaking, but as a laboratory, a true chemical laboratory, the argu- 
ments just brought forward lose their force. Under this ardent 
innovator, Perugino may well have studied, not so much the art of 
painting, as the science of colouring, the chemical properties of colours, 
their combinations, all those problems which the pupils of Verrocchio, 
Leonardo as well as Lorenzo di Credi, were unceasingly engaged 
upon.^ 

Like all his fellow-students, Perugino was rather a colourist than a 
draughtsman. It were fruitless to demand of him compositions brilli- 
antly im.agined or cunningly put together ; warmth of colour, com- 
bined with the expression of meditation, of religious fervour — these 
are his sole qualities, and they are not to be despised. Perugino had, 

1 And, indeed, the group of the Holy Family by Perugino, in the Museum at 
Nancy, had its origin in the corresponding group of Leonardo's Virgin of the Rocks (Crowe 
and Cavalcaselle, History of Faifiting in Italy, vol. iii. p. 225). Nor, most assuredly, is 
it from simple caprice that Perugino introduces the portrait of Verrocchio into one of 
his paintings for ihe monastery of the Jesuits in Florence (Vasari, Milanesi's ed., vol. in, 
p. 574). Such distinctions were accorded only to patrons or to friends. 

E 2 



28 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 




in all probability, already quitted Verrocchio's atelier in 1475. ^t 
least, it was suggested that he should paint the great hall of the 

Palazzo Pubblico of Perugia at this 
date. 

Leonardo, with all his numerous 
writings, is so chary of details as to 
his private affairs and connections 
that we know not whether the rela- 
tions with Perugino, begun in Ver- 
rocchio's studio, survived the depar- 
ture of the latter. The two artists 
STUDY OF A HORSEMAN (ASCRIBED TO vERRoccHio). ttiust, howevcr, havc had Hiany op- 
portunities of meeting again later 
on: first of all, in Florence, where Perugino was working in 1482; 
then in Lombardy in 1496; then, after 1500, once more in Florence, 
where Perugino had set up a studio which was much frequented. 
Raphael's father, Giovanni Santi, has perpetuated the memory of 
this connection in three well-known lines, wherein he speaks of 
two adolescents of the same age animated by the same passions 
— Leonardo da Vinci and Perugino, or Pietro della Pieve, a divine 
painter : 

Due giovin par d'etate e par d'amori 
Leonardo da Vinci e'l Perusino, 
Pier della Pieve ch'^ un divin pittore. 

Yet another Umbrian, Fiorenzo di Lorenzo of Perugia, appears to 
have worked in Verroc- 
chio's studio. His first jj' 
dated work, the altar- (/ji* 
piece In the Gallery of 
Perugia (1472) shows 
him, at least, to have 
been Influenced by the 
Florentine master.^ 

STUDY OF A HORSEMAN (ASCRIBED TO VERROCCHIO). 




Lorenzo di Andrea Credi (1459 — 1537), the son and grandson of 
goldsmiths, was placed, when quite a child, under Verrocchio's tuition, 

^ Schmarsow, Pinturricchio in Rom , p. 5. Bode, Italienische Bildhauer, p. 151. 
Ulmann, Sandro Botticelli^ p. 38. 



LEONARDO'S FELLOW-STUDENTS 



29 



and was still working under him, at the age of twenty-one, content with 
the modest salary of one florin (about £2) a month. He was living 
at that time (1480) with his mother " Mona Lisa," a widow aged 
sixty years. His two sisters, Lucrezia and Lena, were married. 
The fortune of the little household consisted of a tiny property at 
Casarotta. 

A tender friendship united Lorenzo and his master, whom he 
accompanied later to Venice, to assist in the execution of the statue 




LEONARDOS FIRST DATED LANDSCAPE. 

(Uffizi, Florence.) 



of Colleone, and who, at his death, named him his executor. His 
was a nature profoundly contemplative and religious : he was an 
impassioned follower of Savonarola, as were the great majority of 
Florentine artists ; but, after the fall of the prophet, discourage- 
ment followed on boundless enthusiasm. His will bears witness to 
his sense of contrition : after having assured the future of his old 
woman-servant, to whom he left his bedding, and an annuity in kind ; 
after having made certain donations to his niece and to the daughter 
of a friend, a goldsmith ; he directed that the rest of his fortune 
should go to the brotherhood of the indigent poor, and that his 



30 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

obsequies should be as simple as possible : " Quo minimo sumptu 
fieri potest." 

Seven years younger than Leonardo, Lorenzo soon came under 
the influence of his fellow-student. No one, affirms Vasari, could 
better imitate the latter's manner ; one of Leonardo's pictures, in 
particular, he copied so perfectly that it was impossible to distinguish 
the copy from the original. This picture, as well as another after 
Verrocchio, went to Spain. 

Lorenzo was a slow and laborious spirit, rather than a lively 
and original genius. It is said that he prepared his oils himself, 
and with his own hand ground his colours to an impalpable dust. 
After having tried the gradations of each colour upon his palette — he 
made use of as many as thirty shades to the colour — he forbade his 
servants to sweep his studio, lest one speck of dust should dim 
the transparency and polish of his pictures, which, in this respect, 
are like enamels. He was distinguished for deep religious con- 
victions ; but of what avail are convictions to the artist or the 
poet without talent, the gift of communicating his emotions to 
others ? 

Nothing could be more limited than the range of Lorenzo's com- 
positions ; they are either Holy Conversations or Madonnas, these last 
usually circular in form. About the only secular picture known as 
his is his Venus, in the Uffizi Gallery. His figures are, for the most 
part, heavy: the Infant Jesus in particular being remarkable for the 
inordinate size of the head, and the total absence of expression. His 
landscape, indeed, has higher qualities, thanks chiefly to the colour, 
in which firmness has not destroyed harmony. Lorenzo practised 
portraiture as well as religious painting. If the portraits attributed 
to him in the Louvre are indeed his, Leonardo's fellow-student must 
have possessed the power of subtle characterisation in the very highest 
degree. A few touches, as quiet as they are exact, and of incom- 
parable lightness, suffice to fix the physiognomy, and suggest the 
soul of his model, on a sheet of paper, usually rose-tinted. The 
Ecole des Beaux Arts in Paris possesses a portrait of an old 
man, in body-colour, more closely akin to Lorenzo's pictures, and 
marked by the same laboured handling : this is the sign m.anual of 
the master. 



LEONARDO'S FELLOW-STUDENTS 31 

It is not impossible that Leonardo may also have met another 
artist, much his senior, in Verrocchio's studio, where he was working 
rather as an assistant than a pupil — I mean Sandro Botticelli. He was 
one of the few contemporary masters of whom our hero makes mention 
in his writings, and he adds to the name the significant qualification 
" il nostro Botticelli." He invokes Botticelli's testimony, however, 
only to criticise him. " That artist," he says, " is not universal who 
does not show an equal taste for all branches of painting. For instance, 
one who does not care for landscape, will declare that it is a matter 
for short and simple study only. Our Botticelli was wont to say that 
this study was vain, for you had but to throw a sponge soaked with 
different colours against a wall, and you at once obtained upon that 
wall a stain, wherein you might distinguish a landscape. And indeed," 
Leonardo adds, " this artist painted very poor landscapes." ^ The 
end of this demonstration deserves to be quoted. In it Leonardo 
unconsciously criticises that very species of picturesque pantheism, 
those optical illusions to which no one sacrificed more than he did 
himself. "It is true," he declares, "that he who seeks them will 
find in that stain many inventions, such as human faces, various 
animals, battles, rocks, oceans, clouds or forests, and other objects of 
the kind. It is the same with the sound of bells, wherein each 
person can distinguish whatever words he pleases. But although 
these stains furnish forth divers subjects, they do not show us how 
to terminate a particular point," ^ How often must Leonardo have let 
his vision and his imagination float thus in the clouds or on the waves, 
striving to grasp in their infinite combinations the image he was 
pursuing, or, by an opposite effect, endeavouring to give form and 
substance to the undulating, intangible masses ! 

Taking into consideration Leonardo's facetious humour, his delight 
in mystification — there was a touch of the Mephistopheles in him — and 
his extravagant habits, it is highly probable that he formed a close 
connection with a band of hare-brained young fellows who frequented 

^ See Ulman, Sandro Botticelli, pp. 37 — 38. I -shall have occasion to return to the 
numerous motives borrowed by Botticelli from Leonardo : in the Virgin of the Magni- 
ficat (see the Archivio storico dell' Arte, 1897, p. 3, et seq), in the Nativity of the National 
Gallery, in the Adoration of the Magi of the Ufifizi. 

2 Trattato delta Pittura, chap. Ix. Piero di Cosimo attempted, like Leonardo, to 
form figures with clouds. (See his biography in Vasari.) 



32 



T.EONARDO DA VINCI 



Verrocchio's studio, and whose wild doings often scandalised the good 
citizens of Florence,^ and formed a characteristic trait of Florentine 
manners. For if in the Umbrian schools the embryo painter (such 
as Raphael, for instance) had all the gentleness and timidity of a 
girl, in Florence, from Giotto's time, practical joking never ceased 

to form an integral part 
of the education of an 
artist. 

The most brilliant of 
these fellow - students, 
who cultivated art as 
amateurs rather than as 
professionals, was Atal- 
ante dei Migliarotti, born 
in Florence in 1466 of 
an unlawful union, like 
Leonardo himself, which 
was perhaps a bond the 
more between them. 
Like Leonardo, he ex- 
celled upon the lute, and 
it was in the character 
of musician, and not as a 
painter, that he accom- 
panied his friend to the 
court of Lodovico Moro. His reputation increased so greatly that in 
1490 the Marquis of Mantua, wishing to have the Orfeo of Poliziano 
represented, called upon Atalante to fill the principal part. Later on. 




EKUOCCHIOS HEAD OF DAVID, 

(Musee National of Florence.) 



1 A calumny long rested on the memory of Leonardo, which was only dissipated 
when at last the keepers of the Archives of Florence were prevailed upon to give 
publicity to the documents connected with certain law proceedings. An anonymous 
person had denounced him, with three other Florentines, as having had immoral 
relations with a certain Jacopo Salterello, aged seventeen, apparently apprenticed to 
a goldsmith. In consequence, the accused appeared, on April 9, 1476, before the 
tribunal sitting at San Marco. They were all acquitted, on condition that they 
should come up again after a fresh enquiry. At the second hearing, which took place 
June 7, 1476, the case against them was definitively dismissed. We see therefore 
that his contemporaiies had already exonerated him. {Arc/iivio storiio dcll' Arte, 1896, 
PP- 313—315-) 




A HEAD BY LEONARDO FOR VERROCCHIO S "DAVID. 

(Weimar Museum) 



34 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

having sown his wild oats, Atalante, like so many others, resigned 
himself to a subordinate position, and became a kind of 
bureaucrat — sorry climax to a career that had begun so 
brilliantly! In 15 13, the same year in which Leonardo made his 
triumphal entry into Rome surrounded by a constellation of 
pupils, Atalante filled the post of inspector of architectural works at 
the Papal Court. It was, at least, a last slight bond between him and 
Art; twenty-two years later, in 1535, on the eve of his death, he was 
still occupying this obscure situation, which left him ample leisure 
to meditate upon the follies of his youth. 

As to Zoroastro di Peretola, the pupil, and not the fellow-student 
of Leonardo, we shall consider him later on. 

The reader knows something of the atmosphere that reigned 
in Verrocchio's studio. Let us now endeavour to trace its action 
upon so impressionable a mind as that of the youthful Leonardo. 
First and foremost, the beginner found himself constrained to submit 
to a certain discipline. How did he bend to the yoke ? Did he 
bind himself to the programme which he recommended later on to 
his own disciples, and which he laid down as follows ? — " This is what 
the apprentice should learn at the beginning : he should first learn 
perspective, then the proportions of all things ; after this, he should 
make drawings after good masters in order to accustom himself to 
giving the right proportions to the limbs ; and after that, from nature, 
in order that he may verify for himself the principles he has learned. 
Further, he should, for some time, carefully examine the works of 
different masters, and finally accustom himself to the practice of his 
art" {Trattato della Pithira, chap, xlvii.). 

Further (chaps. Ixxxi.), Leonardo lays stress upon the importance 
of independence and originality : " I say to painters, Never imitate the 
manner of another ; for thereby you become the grandson instead of 
the son of nature. And, truly, models are found in such abundance in 
nature that it is far better to go to them than to masters. I do not say 
this to those who strive to become rich by their art, but to those who 
desire glory and honour thereby." 

A noble programme, and, what is more, a noble example ! The 



LEONARDO'S FIRST EFFORTS 35 

long career of Leonardo da Vinci is a standing witness to the 
fact that, from youth to old age, he set glory and honour before 
riches. 

With such tendencies as these, the models created by his pre- 
decessors would have but little influence upon the youthful beginner. 
" He was most assiduous," Vasari tells us, " in working from nature, and 
would sometimes make rough models in clay, over which he then laid 
moist rags coated with clay ; these he afterwards carefully copied on 
superfine Rheims canvas or on prepared linen, colouring them in 
black and white with the point of the brush to produce illusion." 
(Several of these studies have come down to us.) " He drew, 
besides, on paper," Vasari adds, " with so much zeal and talent 
that no one could rival him in delicacy of rendering." Vasari 
possessed one of these heads In chalk and caniaieu, which he pro- 
nounced divine. 

However, Leonardo soon abandoned this practice. In the Trattato 
delta Pittura (chap. Dxxxviii) he strongly advises students not to 
make use of models over which paper or thin leather has been drawn, 
but, on the contrary, to sketch their draperies from nature, carefully 
noting differences of texture.^ 

However refractory Leonardo may have been to contemporary 
influences, it was impossible that there should have been no inter- 
change of ideas and no affinity of style between him and his master. 
The better to make them understood, I shall compare the various 
stages in the development of Verrocchio's art, as I have endeavoured 
to define them (pp. 22 — 26), with some of the more salient landmarks 
in the evolution of his immortal pupil. 

We do not know for certain when he entered Verrocchio's studio, 
but it was long before 1472, ^ for at that date, being then twenty 
years of age, he was received into the guild of painters of Florence ; , 

^ Among the artists of the sixteenth century who made use of clay models similar to 
those of Leonardo, we may mention Garofalo and Tintoretto (see my L Histore de I' Art 
pendant la Renaissance, vol. iii. p. 148). 

2 Miiller-Walde puts the date at 1466, which is quite within the range of probability, 
Leonardo being then fourteen years old. 

F 2 



36 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



In 1473, as is proved by a study to which I shall revert imme- 
diately, he already used the pen with perfect mastery ; we may 
add that the intercourse between the two artists was kept up till 
1476 at least. 

Shall I be accused of temerity if, armed with these dates, I venture 
to maintain, contrary to common opinion, that between pupil and 
master there was an interchange of ideas particularly advantageous to 
the latter ; that Leonardo gave to Verrocchio as much, if not more, than 
he received from him ? By the time that a fragrance of grace and 
beauty began to breathe from Verrocchio's work, Leonardo was no 




THREE DANCERS. 

(Accademia, Venice.) 



longer an apprentice, but a consummate master. The Baptism- of 
Christ, to which I shall refer later, is not the only work in which the 
collaboration of the two artists is palpable, and the contrast between 
the two manners self-evident ; this contrast is still more striking 
between the works of Verrocchio which are anterior to Leonardo's 
entry into his studio, and those he produced later. 

In their drawings, we have an invaluable criterion whereby to 
measure the respective value of the work of the master and that of his 
disciple. It is true that Morelli and his followers have excluded from 
the works of Verrocchio the twenty-five sheets of the Sketch Book 



INFLUENCE OF LEONARDO ON VERROCCHIO 



37 



so long attributed to him. (In the Louvre, at the Ecole des Beaux 
Arts, at Chantilly, etc.) We will accept their verdict, and only take 
into consideration the Five Genii at Play of the Louvre, and the Head 
of ail Angel in the Uffizi, declared to be ultra-authentic by Morelli ^ 
and by Gronau.^ Even here it must be admitted that the execution 
is cramped and poor, the types either unhealthy or undecided, (after 
the manner of certain compositions in the Raphael Sketch Book in 
the Accademia of Venice) ; in short, the drawings are the very 
antithesis of Leonardo's. 
To aver that the Sketch 
Book is not by Verroc- 
chio's hand can add but 
little to his reputation. 
The drawings are not 
sensibly worse than those 
which Morelli and Gronau 
ascribe to him. 

. Let us now compare 
the earliest efforts of 
Leonardo with these 
archaic works. A curious 
pen and ink landscape, 
with the inscription: " Di 
di sea Maria della Neve, 
a di 2 d'aghosto 1473" 
(the day of S. Mary of 

the Snow, August 2, 1473), dates from 1473, when Leonardo was 
twenty-one. It represents a plain between mountains, two, those 
which bound it to right and left of the foreground, rising almost 
perpendicularly. On the one to the left stands a town surrounded 
by ramparts flanked with towers.^ All around are trees with 

^ Die Gahrien zu Mimchen und Dresden, pp. 350-351. (English translation by Miss 
Ffoulkes, 1893, p. 27 t.) 

^ Jahrbuch der k. Pr. Kunstsammlungen, 1896, i. 

^ One of the erudite writers who has rendered such valuable service in the inter- 
pretation of Leonardo's literary works claims to have discovered in this landscape a 
view of the Rigi, on which, indeed, there is a convent dedicated to S. Mary of the 




SKETCH, SCHOOL OF VERROCCHIO. 

(The Louvre.) 



38 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

smooth trunks and parallel branches, something like pines : the type, 
as we know, so dear to the Primitives. The composition has none 
of the clumsiness of Verrocchio's ; the most insignificant details 
acquire an incomparable delicacy and smoothness under that cunning 
hand. Nevertheless, the landscape (evidently a study from nature) 
is wanting in decision and in intention ; there is something vague about 
it, as in the vast majority of the productions of the genius which lent 
itself with such difficulty to any precise and categorical scheme of 
expression. 

The drawing of 1473 furnishes us with another valuable landmark : 
Leonardo had already adopted his peculiar system of writing from right 
to left, after the manner of the Orientals. 

Resides these dates, which are fixed by figures, there are others 
which may be determined by peculiarities of style. Though bearing 
no chronological inscription by Leonardo's hand, the two studies I am 
about to mention belong none the less to a well-defined period of his 
career ; if, hitherto, they have not attracted the attention of the 
historians of the master, the question once raised, no one will deny 
that they must have been executed at the beginning of his term of 
apprenticeship, and in Verrocchio's studio. 

The first, now at Weimar, shows us the head of a youth, in every 
point the counterpart of Verrocchio's David (1476), but less harsh, 
more rounded, the mouth less compressed, the cheek-bones and the 
throat less angular — in a word, the type bears the Leonardesque 
imprint in every particular. For the rest, we note the same curled 
locks as in the statue, save that the clusters, which are more 
abundant, fall lower on the forehead ; the same long eyes. We have 
here, probably, a model treated at one time by the master, at 
another by the pupil ; where one is dry and restless, the other is all 

Snows. But de Geymiiller has objected, and with reason, that these mountains have not 
the Alpine character ; that the heights of the foreground are much lower than the Rigi ; 
finally, that the latter has never had a city bearing the smallest resemblance to the one 
in Leonardo's drawing upon one of its slopes. Moreover, there is nothing to show 
that, at this period, Leonardo had crossed the Alps. In Baron Liphart's opinion, this 
drawing represents a view of the Apennines, near Lucca. (Miiller-Walde, Leonardo da 
Vinci, p. 64.) 



COLLABORATION OF LEONARDO AND VERROCCHIO 39 

suavity. Here, if I am not mistaken, is the point where that 
striving after beauty begins which, after a certain moment, makes 
itself felt in Verrocchio's chief works : his Incredulity of S. 
Thomas} wherein the saint, with his serene and benign counte- 
nance, is worthy to sit among the Apostles of the Last Supper 
in Santa Maria delle Grazie, the Angels of the Forteguerra tomb, 
and the Lady with the Bouquet of the Uffizi Gallery, that meagre 
bust which is nevertheless so distinguished and fascinating in 
expression. 

Another study of Three dancing Girls and a sketch of a head 
(Accademia at Venice), offers the same points of resemblance, and the 
same differences. Here we see again the crumpled draperies so dear 
to Verrocchio, his abruptness of movement, his stiffness of fore- 
shortening, notably in the dancer in the background holding a scarf 
over her head like a child with a skipping-rope.^ At the same time 
there is much of the grace peculiar to Leonardo ; one of these 
dishevelled Bacchantes, in classic costume, is remarkable for her 
smile, her deep-eyed gaze, the curve of her arm, the rhythm of 
her gesture. The technique — the drawing is executed in pen-and-ink 
— recalls the hand of Verrocchio, but it has a freedom and charm 
unknown to that artist. A curious drawing among those ascribed to 
Verrocchio in the Louvre (His de la Salle collection. No. 1 18), contains 
a few words written backwards, in which M. Charles Ravaisson-Mollien 
does not hesitate to recognise Leonardo's writing.-^ Though the 
Madonna of this sheet is of a somewhat mean and archaic type, not 
without analogies to that of the Umbrian school, the slight sketch of 
the youth (S. John the Baptist?) has a grace and freedom that suggest 
Leonardo. 

^ Great was the impression produced by this group when it was installed, on June 
21, 1483, in one of the tabernacles of Or San Michele. A contemporary, Landucci, 
declares that never before had so beautiful a head of Christ been seen : "la piu bella 
testa del Salvatore ch' ancora si sia fatta." {Diario fiorentino dal 1450 al 15 16; 
Florence, 1883, p. 45.) 

2 This figure may be compared with the Angels in the Thiers collection at the Louvre, 
those of the Forteguerra monument, and those of the ciborium of the church at Monteluce, 
which Venturi attributes to a pupil of Verrocchio, Francesco di Simone Ferrucci of 
Fiesole {Anhivio storico dell' Arte, 1892, p. 376). 

^ Memoires de la Societe nationale des Antiquaires de France, 1885, p. 132 — 145. 



4° 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



It was impossible that Verrocchio should not have employed 
the most brilliant of his followers in his works. Here again, the 
pupil revealed his crushing superiority. 

The Baptism of Christ, in the Accademia of Florence, gives 
us certain valuable indications as to the collaboration of the two 
artists. Vasar tells us, that after having seen the kneeling angel, 
painted by Leonardo at the side of the Christ, Verrocchio, in 

despair, threw down his brushes 
and gave up painting. 

A careful study of the picture 
confirms the probability of this 
story. Nothing could be more 
unsatisfactory, more meagre 
than the two chief figures, 
Christ and S. John ; without 
distinction of form, or poetry 
ot expression, they are simply 
laborious studies of some aged 
and unlovely model, some 
wretched mechanic whom Ver- 
rocchio got to pose for him. 
(Charles Perkins justly criticises 
the hardness of the lines, the 
stiffness of the style, the ab- 
sence of all sentiment.) Look, on the other hand, at the consum- 
mate youthful grace of the angel tradition assigns to Leonardo ! 
How the lion reveals himself In the first stroke of his paw, and 
with what excellent reason did Verrocchio confess himself van- 
quished ! It Is not Impossible that the background was also the 
work of the young beginner ; It Is a fantastic landscape, not unlike 
that of the Mona Lisa. The brown scale of colour, too, resembles 
that which Leonardo adopted, notably In the Saint Jerome, of the 
Vatican Gallery, In the Adoration of the Magi of the UffizI (which, 
however, is only a cartoon), In the Virgin of the Rocks, and In the 
Mona Lisa. 

To sum up, I will say that Leonardo never dreamt, and for 




HEAD OF JOHN THE BAPTIST, FROM VERROCCHIO'S BAPTISM 
OK CHRIST." 

(Accademia, Florence.) 




STATUE OF COLLEONE, BY VERROCCHIO. (tHE BASE BY LEOPARDI.) 

(Piazza di SS. Giovanni e Paolo at Venice.) 



COLLABORATION OF LEONARDO AND VERROCCHIO 43 

excellent reason, of looking to Verrocchio for ready-made formulae 
like those by which Raphael profited so long in Perugino's studio. 
It was rather he who opened up to his astonished master unsus- 
pected sources of beauty, which the latter scarcely had time to turn 
to account.^ 

Several German critics have gone so far as to determine 
Leonardo's share in his master's pictures to the minutest details. 
For my own part, I make no pretensions to such powers of 
divination, and am content to draw my conclusions from facts 
that are obvious to all open and impartial minds. Signor Morelli, 
indeed, maintains that the Baptism of Christ is entirely by Verroc- 
chio's hand.^ 

Who shall decide in this conflict of opinions ? The reader must 
forgive me if I respect a tradition that agrees so well with the 
testimony of the work itself, and continue to believe in the collaboration 
of master and pupil. 

A sketch in the Turin Museum shows us Leonardo preparing the 
figure of the angel, whose beauty astounded his contemporaries. 

Another drawing, in the Windsor Collection (reproduced in our 
Plate 2), a study of drapery on a kneeling figure in profile to the left, 
also has analogies with the angel in the Baptism. 

It may not be superfluous to point out that Lorenzo di Credi 
reproduced certain details of the Baptism, of Christ in his picture of 
the same subject in the Church of San Domenico, near Florence 
(Photograph by Alinari, No. 7726). There is also a strong likeness 
between the angel of Verrocchio's Baptism and the Virgin's attendant 
angel in Domenico Ghirlandajo's picture in the National Gallery 
of London.^ Ghirlandajo's Infant Jesus, too, with his plump, rounded 
contours, recalls or foreshadows the type given to the child by 
Leonardo. 

^ An Italian critic, Signor Tumiati, has recently vindicated Verrocchio's claims to the 
beautiful bas-rehef in the church of San Giacomo at Rome, signed " Opus Andrese," which 
Schmarsow attributed to Andrea da Milano. But this Madonna and Child seem to me 
too pure and classic a work for our master. It has too little in common with his restless 
and very individual manner. L Arte, 1898, p. 218 — 219. 

^ Die Galerien zu Berlin, p. 35 ^/ seq. 

2 Ascribed, in the National Gallery catalogue, to the School of Verrocchio. — Ed. 

G 2 



44 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



A terra-cotta model, a study for one of the two angels on Cardinal 
Forteguerra's tomb in the Cathedral at Prato (see p. 39), may also 
perhaps have been the result of collaboration between master and 
pupil. " If they were not by Verrocchio," says M. Louis Gonse, 
" these angels (now in the Thiers Collection at the Louvre), might 
well be by the divine hand of Leonardo himself, so strongly 
does the Leonardesque sentiment that permeates them recall the 
figures of the angels in the Vir-gin of the Rocks, and the Baptism 
of Christ r 




STUDY OF A HORSEMAl 
(Windsor Library ) 



The Angels frotn Verrocchio s Picticre of the "■ BaptisDi 
of Christ." 

(Tho Angel on the riglil hy I^eonardo, the Angel on the left by Verrocchio.) 

(aCCADTMIA DEI.LE ItF-I.I.E AKTI, FLOKKNCK.) 




tTION (ATIKlIiUTED TO LEONARDO). 

(The Louvre.) 



CHAPTER II 



FIRST ORIGINAL PRODUCTIONS : THE SHIELD — THE MEDUSA — THE FALL — PICTURES 
ASCRIBED TO LEONARDO— THE ANNUNCIATION OF THE LOUVRE AND THE ANNUN- 
CIATION OF THE UFFIZI— THE PORTRAIT OF BANDINI EARONCELLI. 




A 



T the beginning of Leonardo's career, 
as in that of every great artist, 
we meet with the legend of a first 
masterpiece. " A farmer," so the story runs, 
" had asked Ser Piero da Vinci to get a shield 
he had made out of the wood of a fig-tree 
on his property decorated in Florence. Ser 
Piero charged his son to paint something on 
it, but without telling him where it came 
from. Perceiving that the shield was warped 
and very roughly cut, Leonardo straightened 
it out by heat, and sent it to a turner 
to plane and polish. After giving it a coat- 
ing of plaster, and arranging it to his satis- 
faction, he bethought him of a subject suitable for painting upon 
it — something that should be of a nature to strike terror to any 
who might attack the owner of this piece of armour, after the 
manner of the Gorgon of old. To this end he collected in a 
place, to which he alone had access, a number of crickets, grass- 
hoppers, bats, serpents, lizards, and other strange creatures ; by 
niingling these together he evolved a most horrible and terrifying 



STUDY FOR THE ADORATION OF 
MAGI. 



(Collection, P. Valton.) 



46 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

monster, whose noisome breath filled the air with flames as it issued 
from a rift among gloomy rocks, black venom streaming from 
its open jaws, its eyes darting fire, its nostrils belching forth smoke. 
The young artist suffered severely meanwhile from the stench arising 
from all these dead animals, but his ardour enabled him to endure 
it bravely to the end. The work being completed, and neither 
his father nor the peasant coming to claim the shield, Leonardo 
reminded his father to have it removed. Ser Piero therefore repaired 
one morning to the room occupied by his son, and knocked at the 
door ; it was opened by Leonardo, who begged him to wait a moment 
before entering ; whereupon the young man retired, and placing the 
shield on an easel in the window, so arranged the curtains that the 
light fell upon the painting in dazzling brilliancy. Ser Piero, for- 
getting the errand upon which he had come, experienced at the first 
glance a violent shock, never thinking that this was nothing but a 
shield, and, still less, that he was looking at a painting. He fell back 
a step in alarm, but Leonardo restrained him. ' I see, father,' he 
said, ' that this picture produces the effect I hoped for ; take it, then, 
and convey it to its owner.' Ser Piero was greatly amazed, and lauded 
the strange device adopted by his son. He then went secretly and 
purchased another shield, ornamented with a heart pierced by an arrow, 
and this he gave to the peasant, who, nothing doubting, ever after 
regarded him with gratitude. Afterwards, Ser Piero sold Leonardo's 
shield secretly to some merchants of Florence for lOO ducats, and they, 
in their turn, easily obtained 300 for it from the Duke of Milan." ^ 

The biographer has obviously embellished the story, but there is 
nothing to authorise us in supposing that it is not founded on fact, 
such pleasantries being extremely characteristic of Leonardo. Who 
knows but that this shield served him as a passport, when he went 
to seek his fortune at the Court of the Sforzi ? 

As a pendant to the shield there was, according to the biographers, 
a picture representing a Gorgon, surrounded by serpents Intertwined, 
and knotted in a thousand folds — "una testa dl Megera con mirabllj 
et varj agruppamenti di serpi." 

^ Vasari . Lomazzo confirms this story, saying that the " rotella " was sent to 

Lodovico il More. {Trattato della Fittura, book vii. chap, xxxii.) 



FIRST ORIGINAL PRODUCTIONS 47 

This picture was long identified with the one in the Uffizi. But 
the oracles of Art have now decided that this could not have been pro- 
duced till long after the death of da Vinci, and that it is the work of 
some cinquecentist, painting from Vasari's description. We know, 
however, from the testimony of an anonymous biographer^ that a 
Medusa painted by Leonardo was included in the collections of Cosimo 
de' Medici about the middle of the sixteenth century, Cosimo's inter- 
ventory is not less precise; it mentions " un quadro con una Furia 
infernale del Vinci semplice." ^ 

The cartoon of The Fall has shared the fate of the Medusa. Here 
again we have to content ourselves with Vasari's description, corrobor- 
ated by the testimony of the biographer edited by Milanesi. "A 
cartoon was entrusted to Leonardo, from which a portiere in cloth of 
gold and silver was to be executed in Flanders for the King of 
Portugal. The cartoon represented Adam and Eve in the garden 
of Paradise at the moment of their disobedience. Leonardo made 
a design of several animals in a meadow studded with flowers, which 
he rendered with incredible accuracy and truth, painting them in 
monochrome, with touches of ceruse. The leaves and branches of a 
fig-tree are executed with such loving care that, verily, one can 
scarcely fathom the patience of the artist. There is also a palm, 
to which he has imparted such elasticity by the curves of its foliage 
as none other could have attained to but himself. Unhappily, the 
portiere was never executed, and the cartoon is now in the fortunate 
house of the magnificent Ottavio de Medici, to whom it was given 
a short time ago by Leonardo's uncle." 

Thus, from his earliest youth, Leonardo showed a taste for 
bizarre subjects : the monster painted on the shield, the Gorgon 
surrounded with serpents, so little in harmony with the prevailing 
taste of contemporary Italian artists, which was becoming more and 
more literary. Thus in The Fall we see him engaged upon the 
reproduction of the very smallest details of vegetation. His burning 
curiosity searched into problems of the most intricate, not to say 

1 Milanesi, Documenti hiediti riguardanti Leonardo da Vinci, Florence, 1872, p. 11. 
Fabriczy, // Codice dell' Anonimo gaddiano, Florence, 1893, p. 77. 

2 See my Collections d' Antiques formees par les Medicis au xvi'. siecle, p. 61. 



48 



T.EONARDO DA VINCt 






repulsive order. M. Taine has expressed this admirably in one 
of his penetrating pieces of analysis, in which he teaches us 
more about the genius of a master in a few lines than we 
learn from whole volumes by others ; we will set it down as it 
stands, for it would be impossible to put it better. " It happens now 
and then," writes the author of the Voyage en Italie, " that among 

these young athletes 
W n f M> i^ haughty as Greek gods, 

we light upon some beau- 
tiful ambiguous youth, 
of feminine mould, his 
slender form contorted 
into an attitude of lan- 
guorous coquetry, akin 
to the androgynes of the 
Imperial epoch, and like 
them, giving evidence of 
a more advanced but 
less healthy, an almost 
morbid art, so eager after 
perfection, so insatiable 
of delight, that, not con- 
tent to accord strength 
to man and delicacy to 
woman, it must needs 
confound and multiply 
the beauty of the two 
sexes by a strange fusion, 
and lose itself in the dreams and researches of the ages of decadence 
and immorality. There is no saying to what the protracted striving 
after exquisite and profound sensations may not finally lead." 
Leonardo was not one of those limited spirits for whom nature is 
nothing but a convenient source of picturesque themes ; he embraced 
it in all its infinite variety, and it was perhaps because he studied 
its deformed and hideous aspects that he was enabled to show us 
its purest, most ideal beauty. 







OF HF 
(Uffizi 



.DS, HATF-n 

Florence.) 



Ill 

Study for a Head of the Vifi^in, ascribed to Leonardo. 



THE ANNUNCIATION" IN THE LOUVRE 



49 



Modern criticism, inconsolabe at the loss of these early master 
pieces, has ingeniously endeavoured to fill up so regrettable a gap 
in Leonardo's work by a series of productions which undoubtedly 
reveal the influence of the young artist, but which have perhaps 
been too hastily accepted as his own. 

One of the earliest and most interesting among these is 
the Annunciation in the 
Louvre, in the gallery 
overlooking the river. 
This picture, which is of 
very small dimensions 
{14 cm. high by 59 cm. 
wide, with figures 15 cm. 
high), was formerly arched 
at the top but is now 
rectangular. It was at- 
tributed to Lorenzo di 
Credi until Bayersdorfer, 
whose opinion was adopted 
by Morelli, proposed to 
give it the name of 
Leonardo. The curly- 
headed angel kneeling in 
a sort of ecstasy in front 
of the Virgin, suggests 
the one in the Annunci- 
ation of the Uffizi, to 

which we shall presently refer. The Virgin, too, presents the 
Leonardesque type, with an added touch of morbidesza. But this 
type, as we know, was adopted by Boltraffio, and many other Milanese 
pupils of the master. Although the impasto is very fat, the accessories 
— the desk in front of which the Virgin is seated, the seats near it, 
etc. — are rendered with infinite care. The little piece of landscape 
in the background is beautiful, tranquil and imposing. The trees, 
unfortunately, have blackened. 

The Annunciation of the Louvre differs from that of the Uffizi 

H 




BUST OF S. JOHN THE BAPTIST (ASCRIBED TO LEONARDO). 

(South Kensington Museum.) 



5° LEONARDO DA VINCI 

firstly In its dimensions, its narrowness being quite abnormal, and 
secondly, in the attitude of the Virgin, who is here in profile, while 
in the Uffizi picture she faces three-quarters to the front. This 
Virgin has been compared with a study of a head in the Uffizi 
(see our full-page Plate). ^ Another head, three-quarters face, in the 
library at Windsor, is also akin to it. On the other hand, the angel 
of the Louvre suggests that of the Uffizi in every way. The attitude 
is identical ; he kneels on one knee, the right hand raised, the left 
falling to the level of the knee. 

The Annunciation of the Uffizi Gallery has been restored to 
Leonardo by authoritative connoisseurs such as Baron von Liphart, 
Dr. Bode, and Baron de Geymuller, while others, Crowe and Caval- 
caselle, and Morelli (agreeing for once !) persist in ascribing it to 
Ridolfo Ghirlandajo. The picture, which once adorned the Convent 
of Monte Oliveto near Florence, is in every respect worthy of 
Leonardo's magic brush ; the grace and freshness of the figures, 
deliciously juvenile with their coquettishly curled hair and their 
exquisitely arranged draperies,- the finish and poetic charm of the 
landscape, a sea-port — perhaps, according to de Geymuller, Porto 
Pisano — with beacons and a kind of jetty, backed by mountains of 
improbable height : all are arguments in favour of Leonardo's author- 
ship. The angel kneeling on one knee recalls the attitudes, so full of 
compunction, beloved of Fra Angelico ; it also resembles, in certain 
points, Lorenzo dl Credi's angel in his Annunciation in the Uffizi, 
saving that in this latter work the drawing Is weaker and rounder. 

In spite of the great charm of this composition, we may be per- 
mitted to hesitate as to its authenticity, and that for various reasons. 

^ Miiller-Walde (Fig. 66) connects this head with \\\q Resurrection in the Berlin Gallery. 

2 It was assuredly thus, in a manner at once affecting and devout, that Leonardo 
considered the Annujiclation should be represented. In his Treatise ofi Painting (chap, 
viii.) he criticises the artists who give exaggerated movement to such a subject. " I have 
recently seen," he says, "an angel, who, in announcing her destiny to the Virgin, appeared 
to be driving her from her chamber, for his movements expressed the indignation one 
might feel in the presence of one's worst enemy, and Our Lady seemed ready to throw 
herself in desperation from the window." 

It is not impossible that the study of drapery for a seated figure facing the spectator, 
and slightly turned to the left (Louvre) may relate to the Virgin of the Antiunciation, 
despite the difference in detail. So too, the drapery of the kneeling figure, turned to the 
right (Uffizi) may be that of the angel (Miiller-Walde, fig. 191). 



"THE VIRGIN WITH THE CARNATION" 51 

The Annunciation has a precision, I mean a rigour and firmness of 
outline, which Is rarely found In the authentic works of Leonardo, who 
banished architecture as much as possible from his compositions (his 
only exception to this rule being his Last Slipper), in order to leave a 
wider field for landscape and aerial perspective. The presence of 
the magnificent classical pedestal which serves the Virgin for a reading- 
desk is also calculated to Inspire some doubt. Would Leonardo, 
who rarely copied Greek or Roman sculptures, have been likely to 
reproduce this with such elaboration ? Let us be content to admire 
a youthful and exquisite work which offers several points of contact 
with Leonardo's style, and refrain froni attempts to solve a problem 
calculated to exercise the sagacity of the critics for a long time 
to come. 

Following on the two Annunciations, If we are to believe certain 
connoisseurs, comes a • Virgin and Child, acquired In 1889 by the 
Munich Pinacothek, and now known to fame under the title of the 
Virgin with the Carnation} The history of this little picture (it 
measures 40 x 60 centimetres only) Is quite a romance. Sold at Giinz- 
burg for the modest sum of a guinea, it was bought again almost 
Immediately by the Pinacothek for £\o, and instantly declared to be a 
masterpiece. It is a most enthralling work, combining a grand and 
dignified solemnity with extreme finish and consummate modelling ; 
a penetrating poetic charm breathes from the picture. If the Child, 
with Its puffy cheeks, approaches somewhat too closely to the rather 
unsympathetic type created by Lorenzo di Credi (see No. 16 16 In 
the same collection), the Virgin captivates us by the grace of her 
features, and the elegance of her costume : a pale blue robe of very 
complicated modulations ; red bodice and sleeves ; yellow scarf falling 
over the right shoulder and on to the knees. The landscape is 
vaporous, as is so often the case in Leonardo's works. But the 
Impasto is rich In the flesh-tints (particularly those of the Child) 
which Incline to blue. 

The attribution of this picture to Leonardo was not undisputed. 
M. Emile Molinier, pointing out a replica of the Virgin with the 

1 Bayersdorfer. — De Geymiiller, Gazetfe des JJeavx-Aris, 1890, vol. ii. pp. 97— 106 
Koopmann, Repertorwvi fiir Kunsiwissenschaft, 1890, pp. 118 — 122. 

H 2 



52 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



Carnation In the Louvre, has insisted on the Flemish character of 
the composition. I must, however, draw attention to the fact that, 
compared with the copy in the Louvre, which, though absolutely faith- 
ful, is without force or warmth, the Munich picture produces the effect 
of a diamond beside a piece of glass. More recently, Herr Rieffel 
too pronounced in favour of its northern origin ; he is disposed to 
look for the author of the Virgin of the Carnation among the painters 
of the Low Countries or the Lower Rhine, who sought inspiration 
in Italy and from the Italian masters at the beginning of the fifteenth 

century. MorelH, whose 




^m^m^^m 








(Bonnat Collection, Paris.) 



appreciations — frequently 
hyper-subtle — should be 
received with extreme 
caution, unhesitatingly at- 
tributed the Munich pic- 
ture to a mediocre Flemish 
painter, working from 
some drawings of Ver- 
rocchio's. Finally, Herr 
W. Schmidt puts forward 
Lorenzo di Credi as its 
author.^ For my part, I 
will add that what seems 
to me the main argument against Leonardo's authorship is the type of 

^ See the Bulk tin de la Socictc )iatio7iale des Antiqiiaires de Frajue, 1890. — Reper- 
torium filr Ktaisiwissenschajf, 1891, p. 217 — 220. — Morelli, Die Galerien zu Mimchen 
tind Dresdett, pp. 349 — ii^(>.--Zeitschrift filr bild. Kimst., 1893, p. 139 — 141. 

The Virgin with the Carnation has been connected with a drawing in the Dresden 
Gallery attributed to Leonardo and containing a study for a Virgin, a half-length figure. 
But it is by no means clear that this drawing is by the hand of Leonardo. Morelli claims 
it for Verrocchio, and the head has certainly something very poor about it, notably in 
the modelling of the nose. It offers as many points of divergence as of contact with 
the Munich picture, and therefore proves nothing either for or against the authenticity 
of the latter. 

Critics have even gone so far as to attribute to Leonardo the miserable little picture, 
in the same Gallery, of the Virgin seated and holding out a blackberry to the Child, lying 
nude upon her knees, while the infant S. John the Baptist adores him with uplifted 
hands (No. 13). This picture appears to me hardly worthy of Lorenzo di Credi, to whom 
Herr Woermann ascribes it {Katalog der K. Gemdldegakrie zu Dresden, 1887). According 
to Morelli, its author was a Flemish imitator of Lorenzo di Credi. 



PICTURES ASCRIBED TO LEONARDO 



53 



the Berlin Museum, the 



the Virgin, which is one never met with in his pictures ; and also the 
absence of that contrast between the lights and shadows, so striking 
in the Adoration of the Magi, the Virgin of the Rocks, the 5. Jerome, 
and the Mona Lisa. 

A picture — very much damaged — in 
Resurrection of Christ betiveen S. Leona7'd 
and S. Lucy} is also an early work by 
Leonardo, according to Dr. Bode.^ Dr. 
Bode notes, as particularly characteristic 
of Leonardo's manner, the contrast of 
the warm golden and red-brown tones 
with the cool blue-green tints, the chiaro- 
scuro, the " pastoso " of the oil-colours, 
and the fine net-work which covers the 
carnations. There are several drawings 
of absolute authenticity, Dr. Bode adds, 
which served as preparatory studies for 
this picture. These are, first, the por- 
trait of a woman at Windsor ; the model 
here is represented with downcast eyes ; 
a large drawing in silver point, a study 
for the robe of Christ (Malcolm Col- 
lection in the British Museum) ; lastly, a 
pen-and-ink drawing, a sketch, with the 
head of Saint Leonard, in the Uffizi 
(p. 48). That the Resttrrection of the 
Berlin Museum had its origin in Leon- 
ardo's studio, that its author laid certain 
studies of the master under contribution 
for it, no one can doubt ; but to accept it as a picture painted by his 
own hand is to maintain a conclusion against which the great majority 
of connoisseurs from one end of Europe to the other have protested. 




SKETCH OF BARONCELLI. 

(Bonnat Collection, Paris.) 



1 The choice of these two saints has been regarded as an allusion to the Christian 
name of the painter, and that of his father's mother, the aged Lucia. 

'^ Jahrbuch der Kg. F?-euss. Ku7istsammlu7igen, 1884 — Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1889, 
vol. i. p. 501—505. 



54 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

This first series of pictures should be completed, according to some 
German critics, by the engaging portrait of a woman in the Liechten- 
stein Gallery in Vienna, formerly attributed to Boltraffio.^ The widely 
opened eyes, the slender nose, the rather prim mouth, the short chin 
and flattened jaw certainly recall the type of the Virgin in the Ammn- 
elation in the Uffizi. But this is important only if the Anminciation 
really is by the hand of the master — " quod est demonstrandum." 

If the authenticity of the pictures we have just passed in review- 
arouses many a doubt, " a fortiori " it would be impossible to fix their 
chronology. Any attempt in that direction would be premature and 
hazardous. 

But though we niay seek in vain for guiding data in Leonardo's 
youthful pictures, we are on firmer ground if we turn our attention to 
his drawings. 

As basis of our operations we should take, as I have already pointed 
out, the Landscape dated 1473 ; the three Dancing Girls of the 
Accademia in Venice, which were most certainly executed in the 
studio of Verrocchio, and perhaps the study for the head of a youth 
in the Weimar Gallery, a study in which I am inclined to see the 
portrait of the model who sat to Verrocchio for his David (p. 2>Z)- 

To judge by a certain heaviness in the manipulation of the pen, 
we may add to these first efforts a drawing in the Windsor Library, 
essentially rough in execution. It contains several combinations for a 
Saint GeoT-ge striking at the dragon either with a lance or with a 
club : also sketches of horses turning or lying upon the ground with 
exaggerated flexibility, as if they had no backbone (the horse In the 
left-hand corner suggests the horse of the Colleone statue). There 
Is a curious shapelessness in the hoofs of these animals, a strange 
stiffness in their clumsy necks. 

The pendant to this drawing contains a series of studies for 
cats and leopards ; a cat watching a mouse, a cat putting up Its 
back, a sleeping cat, a cat washing itself, a leopard crouching before 

^ This opinion was brought forward for the first time by Dr. Bode : Italietiische 
Bildhmter, p. 156. — According to Miiller-Walde {Leofiardo da Vinci, p. 66) the Vienna 
portrait dates from about 1472. 



CHRONOLOGY OF EARLY WORKS 55 

it springs. Among these studies from nature, in which the cat shows 
its affinity to the tiger, there is a fantastic dragon, such as the 
imaginative artists of the Middle Ages carved on the gargoyles of 
cathedrals.^ 

To the years 1472-1473 a biographer assigns a series of drawino^s 
— studies of heads in the Borghese Gallery at Rome, the Uffizi 
Gallery, and the collection at Christ Church, Oxford, — which exhibit 
a type already very marked, very personal, midway between those of 
Ghirlandajo and Botticelli, by which I mean that it has all the 
firmness of the former combined with the distinction of the latter.- 
Though making my own reservations as to the dates assigned to 
these drawings, I note, more especially in the tw^o first, scarcely per- 
ceptible traces of archaism : for instance, the rather Iqw square chin. 
The artist has not yet mastered the gamut of expression ; the note 
of sentiment is as yet unfamiliar to him. 

It is well known that Leonardo took great pleasure in designing 
fantastic helmets ; we may note especially that in the superb drawing 
of the Warrior in the Malcolm collection. Her Mliller-Walde, one 
of the latest of the master's biographers, has, however, been surely 
somewhat hasty in connecting these sketches with the order for the 
helmet of honour presented to the Duke of Urbino by the Florentine 
Republic after the taking of Volterra (1472)! Now, Herr Miiller- 
Walde knows as well as I do that this helmet was made by Antonio 
del Pollajuolo ; consequently, my honourable opponent has been forced 
to fall back upon the hypothesis of a competition in which Leonardo 
is supposed to have taken part. Here again, I can only say, that 
this is an ingenious conjecture without any solid foundation. Indeed, 
everything justifies the belief that this broad, ample drawing (p. 57), 
dates from a much later period in the artist's life. 

At this time too, according to Herr Muller-Walde, Leonardo 
had begun to work for the Medici. Certain studies of costume in the 
Royal Library at Windsor "^ are supposed by him to be connected with 

1 A draped figure, standing, seen from behind (Windsor Library ; Richter, vol. i. 
pi. xxviii, no. 7, p. 391), recalls the traditions of the Quattrocento, the tyi)es of Perugino 
and Pinturicchio. It has none of the freedom and case proper to Leonardo. 

2 Muller-Walde, Leonardo da Vinci, fig. 7. 

■' Leonardo da Vinci, fig. 36, 37, 38. Cf. p. 74. 



S6 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

the tournament of 1475, of which Giuliano de' Medici was the hero. 
The youthful female figure in a cuirass is, he says, no other than La 
bella Simonetta, as is proved by her perfect resemblance (I) to Botti- 
celli's Simonetta in the Berlin Museum. But I must confess that 
I have not been able to find the most distant analogy between the 
features of these personages and those in Leonardo's sketch, which, 
from their technique, I should judge to be of much later date. 

On the other hand, a sketch in the Windsor Library of a young 
man in profile, wearing a sort of cap, the upper part of which falls over 
the back of his neck,^ is not unlike the bust of Lorenzo the Magnificent, 
formerly in Florence, and now in the Berlin Museum. 

Finally, the young woman with the outstretched left hand of one 
of the Windsor drawings is, according to Herr Muller-Walde,^ no other 
than Dante's Beatrice, and of the same period as Botticelli's composi- 
tions. The hypothesis has, in itself, nothing very improbable about it, 
but, if I am not mistaken, this again is a much later work. 

Concurrently with painting, if we may believe Vasari, our sole guide 
for this period of the master's life, Leonardo worked at sculpture. 
At the same time he was studying architecture, sketching out plans 
of buildings, more picturesque than practical, and lastly, applying 
himself with ardour to the problem for which he had a passion all 
his life, the movement of water. It was at this time that he drew 
up a project for the canalisation of the Arno between Florence 
and Pisa. 

In his first efforts as a sculptor, the biographer tells us, Leonardo 
executed busts of smiling women and children, worthy of a finished 
artist. A bust dating from this period, a Christ, was later in the 
possession of the Milanese painter-author, Lomazzo, who describes it 
as marked by a child-like simplicity and candour, combined with an 
expression of wisdom, intelligence, and majesty truly divine. No 
trace of these early efforts has come down to us. 

But at least we know the models which inspired the young da Vinci ; 
these were, after the productions of Verrocchio, the polychrome terra- 
cottas of the della Robbia. In the Trattato della Pittura (chap. 
xxxvii) he makes special mention of them — he who so seldom mentions 
1 MuUer-Walde, Leonardo da Vinci ^ fig. 13. ^ Ibid. p. 75. 



IV 

Stttdy for a Head of the Virgin, ascribed to Leonardo. 

(UIN'DSOR T.IBRARV.) 



CHRONOLOGY OF EARLY WORKS 



57 



a name — though only in reference to their technique. His letter to 
the commissaries of Piacenza Cathedral is more explicit ; in it he 
cites with justifiable pride the works in bronze which adorn his native 
Florence, and notably the gates of the Baptistery,^ the masterpiece of 
Ghiberti. Vasari further 
tells us that he pro- 
fessed great admiration 
for Donatello. 

An admirable terra- 
cotta in South Kensing- 
ton Museum, formerly 
in the Gigli-Campana 
collection, a young Saint 
John the Baptist, half 
length, with thick hair, 
bare neck and arms, and 
a strip of sheep's skin 
across the breast, dis- 
plays the Leonardesque 
type in every point. If It 
cannot with certainty be 
attributed to the youth- 
ful master, it may at least 
show us what the style 
of his first Florentine 
sculptures probably was. 

After 1478, we feel we are at last on firm ground. A drawing in 
the Uffizi, to which M. Charles Ravaisson first called attention, 
furnishes us with some particularly valuable indications bearing upon 
Leonardo's work after he left Verrocchio. This drawing, inscribed 
with the date In question, shows us that by this time the young master 
had already addressed himself to the study of those character-heads, 
beautiful or the reverse, which were destined to occupy so large a 
place in his work. He has sketched the portrait of a man about 
sixty, with a hooked nose, a bold and prominent chin, a very forcibly 
^ Richter, vol. ii. p. 401. 




PORTRAIT 
(Malcolm Collect 



\ WAKRIOR. 
British Museum.) 



58 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

modelled throat ; the expression is energetic, and the whole composition 
as free as it is assured. All trace of archaism has disappeared ; the 
flexibility of the treatment is extraordinary ; the supreme difficulties 
in the interpretation of the human countenance are triumphantly 
surmounted. Tne sketch of 1478, somewhat softened, becomes the 
marvellous study in red chalk, also in the Uffizi (No. 150 of Braun's 
photographs). Opposite to this head, which attracts all eyes, there is 
a head of a young man, very lightly sketched, with those flowing, 
languorous lines which are the very essence of Leonardo's art. Beside 
this are sketches of mill-wheels, and something like an embryo turbine 
— the complete Leonardo already revealed. " On the .... 1478, I 
began the two Virgins," is written above the drawing. We do not 
know which these two Madonnas were, and their identity opens up 
a wide field for conjectures. 

By this time, Leonardo's fellow-citizens and even the government 
had begun to take note of his fam^. On January i, 1478, the Signory 
of Florence commissioned him, in the place of Piero del Pollajuolo, to 
paint an altar-piece for the chapel of S. Bernard in the Palazzo Vecchio. 
The fate of this work was, alas, that of so many others. Having 
thrown himself with ardour into the task (on March 16 of the same 
year he received 25 florins on account) the artist tired of it, and the 
Signory was obliged, on May 20, 1483, to apply, first to Domenico 
Ghirlandajo, and subsequently to Filippino Lippi, who carried out the 
com nission in 1484.^ His picture, however, was placed, not in the 
chapel of S. Bernard, but in the Hall of Lilies in the Palazzo Vecchio. 
Herr Miiller-Walde identifies the picture left unfinished by Leonardo 
with the Adoration of the Magi in the Uflizi, in which other critics, 
the present writer among them, see the cartoon designed for the con- 
vent of San Donato at Scopeto (see next chapter). The Cicerone 
believes it to have been the S. Jerome in the Vatican. 

In 1479 Leonardo appears to have received an order, less important 
certainly, but more likely to appeal to an imagination which took 
such delight in the grotesque. After the conspiracy of the Pazzi, the 

1 " Comincio a dipingere una tavola nel detto Palazo, la quale dipoi in sul suo disegno 
fu finita per Filippo di Fra Filippo." (Anonymous biography, published by Milanesi, 
p. 1 1.)— Miiller-Walde, y<i//r<^?/r// der kg. Preuss Kunstsammlutigen, 1897, p. 126. 



DRAWING OF B. BARONCELLI 59 

Florentine government resolved to have the portraits of the rebels 
painted on the walls of the Palazzo Vecchio, that their ignominious 
effigies might serve as a warning to future conspirators. They 
addressed themselves, as was customary, to the best known painters 
— Giottino, Andrea del Castagno, and many others had not hesitated 
to accept similar missions. The gentle Botticelli undertook one part 
of the work, Leonardo the other. Such at least would seem to be the 
ease, judging from a curious drawing in the collection of M. Leon 
Bonnat, in which Leonardo has represented one of the conspirators, 
Bernardo di Bandini Baroncelli, who, having taken refuge in Con- 
stantinople, was delivered up by the Sultan — anxious by this act 
of extradition to show his good will towards the Medici — and hanged 
at Florence, December 29, 1479. The care with which the artist 
has noted every detail of the criminal's costume, even down to the 
colour of each article of raiment, authorises us in assuming that this 
sketch was to serve as the groundwork of a portrait which should take 
its place beside that executed by Botticelli. Here then we have the 
seraphic painter suddenly transformed into the depicter of criminals, 
almost, as it were, the assistant of the executioner ! Leonardo, I dare 
swear, accepted the role without repugnance. For him, science 
ever went hand in hand with art. The study of the patient's last 
moments, the observation of the spasms of the death agony, interested 
him quite as keenly from the physiological as from the pictorial point 
of view. At Milan, later on, he frequently attended executions, not 
from morbid curiosity, but from the desire, so legitimate in the thinker 
and philosopher, to contemplate the supreme struggle between life and 
death, to seize the precise moment at which the last breath of vitality 
escapes, at which the gulf opens, whose depths no human eye has 
fathomed. This tension of every faculty of observation in the artist is 
eloquently expressed in the drawing in the Bonnat collection. There 

1 Poliziano describes the character of this personage in these forcible terms : " Uomo 
scelerato, audace, e che non conosceva paura, in quale avendo ancora esso mandato male 
cio che legli aveva, era involto in ogni sorte di sceleratezza . . . il Bandino fu il primo 
che gli passo (Giuliano) el petto con un pugnale. 

" Bandini, non si contentando di avere con i suoi amazzato Giuliano, se n'ando alia volta 
di Lorenzo, il quale di gia a punto s'era salvato con pochi in sacrestia, ma intanto il 
Bandini passb con la spada la vita a Francesco Nori, uomo accorto e che faceva per i 
Medici, e I'amazzo." {^La Congiura de' Pazzi^ ed. del Lungo, pp. 92, 95, loi.) 



6o LEONARDO DA VINCI 

is no room here for emotion, for pity ; no attempt even at any mise-en- 
schie : a body in loosely hanging garments dangling at the end of a 
rope, the head bent forward, the hands bound upon the back — this is 
the whole composition. The dryness of the inscription which accom- 
panies the drawing : — " tan-coloured breeches, black doublet, blue cloak 
lined with fox-skin, black shoes," — accentuates the impassibility of this 
young man of twenty-seven in the presence of the most moving dramas. 

Baroncelli was hanged December 29, 1479. Leonardo was there- 
fore in Florence at this period.^ 

In spite of many uncertainties, we are perfectly justified, if only 
from the evidences contained in Leonardo's early productions, in 
affirming that from his very childhood he possessed an extraordinary 
power of assimilation ; that his mind took hold upon exterior forms, 
and made them his own with a facility that amounted to the marvellous. 
How different to Raphael, who was indebted in turn to the Umbrians, 
the Florentines, and the antique, before he finally created a type 
and a style exclusively his own ! Even Michelangelo, in spite of the 
originality and loftiness of his genius, more than once laid his pre- 
decessors under contributions, notably Jacopo della Querela and 
Signorelli, not to mention the Greeks and Romans. 

Predecessors and contemporaries were alike powerless over 
Leonardo. Indifferent to the motives created by others, he was 
indebted to no man but himself. 

^ Richter, vol. i. p. 346, note. 



Head of a Young If oman. 

(Tin- I rHZI, li.OKKNCE.) 




Printed by Drae;er, Paris. 




STUDY FOR 



THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI. 

(Uffizi, Florence.) 



CHAPTER III 



THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI — " THE S. JEROME —DEPARTURE FROM FLORENCE 
SUPPOSED JOURNEY TO THE EAST. 



LEONARDO'S thirtieth birthday 
was approaching, and he was 
working on his own account.^ 
His reputation was now so far estab- 
Hshed that in March, 148 1, the monks 
of the rich monastery of San Donato 
at Scopeto, beyond the Porta Romana, 
commissioned him to paint the altar- 
piece for their high altar, "la pala per 
I'altare maggiore."- 



^ In August, 1 48 1, he was settled in his own 
house, "casa sua propria," at Florence. Miiller- 
\^?X^Q,Jahrbuch der kg. Freuss. Kunstsammlungen, 

(The Louvre.) 1 89 7, p. 121. 

2 The time allowed him for the completion of 
the altar-piece was two, or two and a half years. He was to receive in payment the third 
of a litde property in the Val d'Elsa, but the abbey reserved the right of redeeming this 
third within a term of two years, for 300 florins " di suggello." Finally, on this third, 
Leonardo undertook to furnish the sum necessary to secure a dowry of 150 florins on 
the Monte di Pieta of Florence for a young girl mentioned in the act. He was also 
bound to provide his own colours, gold, &c. 

The monastery of San Donato, which contained pictures by Filippino Lippi, Botticelli^ 




STUDY FOR 'THE ADORATIC 
OF THE MAGI." 



62 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

The artist set to work at once, but yielding to a fatal tendency — he 
was all flame at the beginning, all ice at the end of a few weeks — he 
soon put the unfinished work aside. ^ The monks waited patiently for 
about fifteen years. At last, in despair, they addressed themselves to 
Filippino Lippi. In 1496 he, more expeditious than Leonardo, 
delivered the beautiful Adoration of the Magi, the brilliant and 
animated work that now hangs in the same room with Leonardo's 
unfinished cartoon in the Uffizi, From the fact that the subject given 
to Filippino was the Adoration of the Magi, it was concluded that this 
was also the subject of the altar-piece begun by Leonardo ; hence the 
identification of the cartoon with that in the Uffizi. True, the works 
of the two artists are almost of the same size, a fact that has escaped 
my predecessors. Signor Ferri, Keeper of the Prints and Drawings 
at the Uffizi, informs me that Leonardo's cartoon measures 2 metres 
30 cm. by 2 m. 30 cm., and Filippino's picture 2 m. 53 cm. by 2 m. 43 
cm. Both, in short, adopted a square, or almost a square shape, a very 
unusual one for such pictures. 

But there are several objections to this argument. The interval 
between Leonardo's commission (1481) and Filippino's (about 1496) is 
so great that the friars may very well have changed their minds, 
and chosen a new subject. On the other hand, it is, of course, possible 
that Leonardo may have treated the same subject twice. But the next 
objection is a weightier one. In June, 148 1, the picture ordered by 
the monks of San Donato was so far advanced that the brothers made 
a purchase of ultramarine, a precious substance used only on definitive 
paintings. Now the Uffizi cartoon is simply a sketch in bistre. A 
further objection is, that one of the studies for the Adoration of the 
Magi appears on the back of a sketch for Leonardo's masterpiece, the 
Last Sjipper. This juxtaposition is difficult to explain, if the cartoon 

and other famous masters, was, like so many other monuments outlying the city, 
destroyed by the Florentines as a precautionary measure in view of the siege of 1529. 
(See Carocci, Dintorni di Firetize, p. 196. Florence, 1881.) 

1 The registers of the monastery for July, 1481, mention various small advances: 
first, twenty-eight florins to secure the dowry in question, then a florin and a half to buy 
colours. At an earlier date, June 25, the brothers had advance^d four lire ten soldi, to 
buy an ounce of blue and an ounce of giallolino (pale yellow). They further sent Leonardo 
at Florence a load of faggots and a load of large logs, with one lira six soldi, for painting 
the clock, " per dipintura fece di uriolo," 



THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI" 63 

was really painted in 148 1, some ten years before the fresco. Finally, 
the style of the cartoon is akin, in parts, to that of Leonardo's works of 
1500, rather than to that of youthful achievements, such as the Virgin 
of the Rocks. It has the supple modelling, the over-elastic attitudes, in 
which the bony substructure is apt to disappear altogether. We may 
add that the inclination the artist shows to represent horses in a great 
variety of attitudes points to the period of his studies for the Battle of 
Angkiari and the equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza, rather than 
his initial stages.^ 

If the date 1481 adopted by certain writers should be received with 
great reserve, that of 1478 put forward by others, who look upon the 
Adoration of the Magi as identical with a picture ordered in this year 
for one of the chapels of the Palazzo Vecchio,^ must be uncompro- 
misingly rejected. The chapel in question was dedicated to Saint 
Bernard, who figured in the altar-piece by Bernardo Daddi (1335), 
which Leonardo was invited to replace, and also in Filippino Lippi's 
work, which was finally substituted for that begun by Leonardo. How 
are we to reconcile the presence of Saint Bernard with an Adoration 
of the Magi ? 

1 may add that Herr M tiller- Walde believes the picture ordered by 
the monks of San Donato to have been a Christ bea7'ing the C7'oss} 
The German author considers a head of Christ in the Accademia at 
Venice a study for the picture in question. This study, on green 
paper (for which Leonardo had a predilection at the beginning of his 
career), has certainly strong affinities with Verrocchio's type of 
Christ. But the rest of the German critic's assumption is purely 
gratuitous. 

^ Vasari only says that Leonardo began a picture of the Adoration of the Magi., of 
great beauty, especially in the heads. "This picture," he says, "was in the house of 
Amerigo Benci, opposite the Loggia of the Peruzzi ; like the master's other works, it 
was left unfinished." M. Strzygowski, unacquainted with the studies I had published 
eight years before in Z' Art (April 15 and August 15, 1887), and in the Revue des deux 
Motides (October i, 1887), is of opinion that the Ufifizi cartoon was begun after Leonardo's 
sojourn at Milan; that the drawing in the Galichon collection dates from 1480; the 
right-hand portion of the cartoon from 1494- 149 5 ; and the Madonna and the rest from 
the first years of the sixteenth century. {Jahrbuch der kg. Kunstsammlungen, 1895, 
pp. 159-175.) 

2 See p. 58. 

^ Leonardo da Vinci, p. 157. 



64 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



Taking into account the methods dear to Leonardo, his intermittent 
ardour, his endless hesitations, it would be over-bold to attempt a 
solution of so delicate a problem of chronology, until a key has been 
furnished by documents in the archives. Let us be content, at present, 
to study the different phases through which the Adoration of the Magi 




"the adoration of the magi, ' BV FILIPPINO LIPPI. 

(Uffizi, Florence.) 



passed before taking form in the Uffizi cartoon. We can trace these 
step by step in a number of drawings. ^ 

The earliest of the sketches preserved in the house — or perhaps I 
should rather say the museum — in the Rue Bassano, in which M. Leon 
Bonnat has collected so many mementoes of the great masters, shows 

1 The catalogue at the end of the volume describes those drawings not mentioned in 
the text. 



STUDIES FOR "THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI" 



65 



that Leonardo's first intention was to paint, not an Adoration of the 
Magi, but an Adoration of the Shephe7^ds, or Nativity, a subject we 



'4"^ 




;;«.r , ^mm 



U 













•' , > ;j^^ ^ /| ;* ; Iff 



STUDY FOR THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI. 

(.The Louvre. Formerly in the Galichon Collection.) 



know him to have painted for the Emperor MaximiHan. It represents 
the Infant Jesus lying on the ground, with the Virgin adoring, and a 
child bending over Him. Nude figures are grouped to the right and 

K 



66 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

left, one of whom, with his bald head, his long beard, and the pro- 
tuberant belly under his crossed arms, seems to have been inspired by 
the Silenus of the ancients. This strange personage re-appears (but in 
reverse) in a drawing formerly in the Armand collection, now in that 
of M. Valton. The drawing in the Bonnat collection also con- 
tains the figure of a young man, shading his eyes with his left hand. 
This motive recurs in a drawing in the Louvre, and in one in the 
Galichon collection, to which I shall return presently. In the latter, 
however, it is an old man, and not a youth, who thus concentrates his 
gaze on the Divine Child. A third spectator, the young man standing 
with one foot on the bench on which the oldest of the shepherds is 
seated, was transferred bodily from M. Bonnat's drawing to that of the 
Armand and Valton collections, save that in the latter he turns his 
back to the spectator, while in the former he is in profile. 

Appropriate as all these attitudes are to the shepherds, they 
are entirely at variance with those traditionally given to the three 
kings ; we have none of those signs of profound veneration, the genu- 
flections, the kissing of the feet, etc., which serve to characterise the 
monarchs from the far East. 

Yet another figure in M. Bonnat's drawing, sketched on the same 
sheet, but apart from the main group, gives a final indication that we 
are studying a sketch for an Adoration of the Shepherds. It is a young 
man with clasped hands, naked but for a strip of drapery passing from 
his left shoulder to his right hip ; this is a shepherd, not an Eastern 
king, nor an Oriental attendant. The touching gesture of the clasped 
hands disappears in the sequel, and I cannot but regret it ; yet only 
strong and exuberant spirits, like Leonardo, can thus sacrifice their 
finest details, confident that they will be able to replace them by 
others no less perfect. 

In the drawing which passed from M. Alfred Armand's collection 
to that of M. P. Valton, the composition has hardly as yet taken 
definite form in the master's mind. He still seeks and hesitates. 
Leonardo, indeed, had none of that precision of conception proper 
to the literary temperament. Not only did he give himself up to the 
most arduous toil in pursuit of his Ideal, demolishing and reconstructing 
again and again, but he loved to hover tentatively round a subject, 



STUDIES FOR "THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI" 67 

instead of attacking it boldly. The drawing of the Valton collection 
betrays these fluctuations ; it contains only isolated figures, some of them 
so vaguely indicated that it is impossible to divine the master's intention 
through the maze of interwoven lines and corrections. 

Among the recognisable figures I may mention the youth with his 
foot on a step, and the bearded old man, both borrowed from the draw- 
ing in the Bonnat collection. The old man's attitude is slightly 
modified ; his right hand supports his chin. The figure is repeated 
further ofif, leaning on a long staff. Then we have young men, their 
hands on their hips, a usual gesture among the actors or spectators 
in pictures of the adoration of the Magi ; it occurs, for instance, in 
Raphael's version of the theme in the Vatican. Other figures are 
remarkable for the striking originality of their attitudes ; they stand 
with arms crossed on their breasts, or hands on their hips, like the 
Hermes of Praxiteles, or the Narcissus in the Naples Museum. We 
know from the figure of Silenus mentioned above, that Leonardo now 
began to draw inspiration from classic models. 

A drawing in the Louvre (in the revolving case at the entrance of 
the Salles Thiers), consists, like that of the Valton collection, of single 
figures only. But the composition has advanced a stage. Here, all 
the attitudes express the deepest reverence. First, we have a prostrate 
figure ; then two others bowing ; then a person advancing, his body 
slightly inclined, his hands uplifted as if to express astonishment. 
Finally, a spectator who shades his eyes with his hands to get a better 
view, and another, who stretches out his arm as if exclaiming : " Behold 
this miracle ! " 

A drawing in the Cologne Museum, to which Messrs. de Geymtiller 
and Richter drew my attention, and for a photograph of which I 
am indebted to Herr Aldenhoven, is certainly contemporary with 
the Louvre drawing ; for both contain combinations of the same 
figures, with certain differences of attitude. In the Louvre drawing, 
the figures are partially draped ; whereas in the Cologne sketches, 
only three of the persons have indications of garments behind 
them. 

But let us take the actors one by one. Beginning on the left, in the 
upper part, we have a charming figure of a young lad, his arms stretched 

K 2 



68 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



out before him, his head turned over his shoulder. Buskins are 
slightly indicated on his feet. In the Louvre drawing, this figure has 
undergone a complete transformation : instead of nearly facing us, as 
before, it is now seen almost from behind, clothed in a tunic fastened 
round the waist by a girdle. 

The second and central figure is even more thoroughly metamor- 
phosed. In the Cologne drawing, he faces us, one hand on his hip, the 
other over his forehead, shading his eyes. Both gestures are preserved 
in the Louvre drawing, but the figure is in profile ; and Leonardo has 

utilised another motive of 
the Cologne drawing for 
this last figure — that of the 
person in the middle dis- 
tance, in profile, his hand 
above his eyes. 

Another figure, a youth 
standing, towards the 
right, his shoulders drawn 
back, his fore-arms ex- 
tended in an attitude 
expressive of surprise and 
veneration, has disap- 
peared in the Louvre 
drawing, as has also one 
of his companions, stand- 
ing, to the left, his arm 
resting on his hip. On 
the other hand, the bent 
figure advancing with arms extended, reappears in the Louvre drawing, 
draped, and with his arms drawn rather closer to his body. His 
neighbour, who bends forward with clasped hands, also figures In 
the Louvre drawing, where, however, he raises his head, instead of 
inclining it, and advances his right, instead of his left leg. He 
re-appears in the important drawing of the Galichon collection 
(see Z'^r/, 1887, vol. ii, p. 71), which represents the last stage of 
the composition. Another, who kneels on one knee, prostrates himself 




\A OF THE ADORATION OF THE 

(Fragment from the Cartoon.) 



STUDIES FOR " THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI " 



69 



on the ground in the Louvre drawing ; but he has risen to his feet 
in that of the GaHchon collection. 

The group of five persons who press eagerly round the Divine Child 
is strikingly beautiful. But Leonardo suppressed it, as may be seen 
by a comparison of the Cologne and Galichon drawings. This group 
is marked by a fervour and enthusiasm, a passion and emotion, too rare 
in Leonardo's works. The master seems to have made it a rule to 




CARTOON OF " THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI. 

(Uffizi, Florence.) 



repress his feelings, and to present a spectacle of perfect serenity to the 
world. 

If the drawing in the Cologne Museum contained but this single 
revelation, if it had nothing of interest beyond this outburst of generous 
feeling, it would still be of the greatest interest to point it out to 
Leonardo's admirers, and I should feel myself sufficiently rewarded for 
my efforts by the pleasure of bringing it to light. 



70 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

A fifth drawing, taking them in chronological order, is to be found 
in the Uffizi ; it is a study for a background, which seems to have 
greatly Interested the master. To the left are two parallel flights of 
steps ; at the foot of one of these a camel is lying. There is nothing 
strange in this motive ; the Adoration of the Magi was a theme which 
always gave the painter a certain licence in the multiplication of 
picturesque details, rare animals, exotic plants, etc. Take, for instance, 
Luini's fresco at Saronno, with the giraffe In the procession of the Magi. 
With what delight does the painter overstep the narrow boundary of 
sacred art, and emerge for a moment into the open air ! But to return 
to the Uffizi drawing : on the steps of one of the staircases a man Is 
seated ; further on, a man ascends It, running. It struck me at first 
that Leonardo had thought of placing the Virgin at the head of this 
double staircase, and of showing the kings and their followers In the 
act of climbing the steps, — an arrangement which would have added 
wonderfully to the dramatic interest, and have given occasion for a 
grandiose mise-en-scene. But I will not venture to insist on this 
hypothesis. In the background of the sketch is a group of horses, 
kicking and rearing. 

A drawing (p. 65), which passed into the Louvre from the 
Gallchon collection, shows us the last stage upon which this laborious 
composition entered before it was committed to the cartoon. It has 
been wrongly described as Leonardo's first idea for the Adoration of 
the Magi ; it would have been more correct to call it his last thought, 
seeing by how many others It was preceded. The beauty of the 
drawing, the eloquence and animation of the lightly sketched figures, 
many of them as yet undraped, the rhythm of the lines, which produces 
the effect of a musical vibration — Raphael was very evidently inspired 
by this method of drawing at the close of his Florentine and the 
beginning of his Roman period — and many other characteristic traits 
defy analysis. All is life, afflatus, love and light ! 

It Is easier to define the analogies and the material differences 
between this drawing and Its predecessors. Several of the figures of the 
earlier Louvre drawing have been retained, with modifications. The 
bowed naked figure with clasped hands is reversed, and has become 
the king who advances, bending forward, his hands outstretched. 



"THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI" 71 

The naked prostrate old man has served as model for the kneeling 
king. It may be noted that his figure has been gradually raised in 
passing from the Louvre drawing to the final cartoon. Other persons 
have not been utilised, as, for instance, the young man who shades his 
eyes with his hand ; unless, indeed, he served as a study for the old 
man on the right in the Galichon drawing and the Ufiizi cartoon. As 
to the young man standing, with extended hands, in the Louvre 
drawing, he, perhaps, was the original of the standing figure with 
uplifted hands on the right. 

Let us now take the cartoon. The figures seem to emerge from a 
kind of mist ; the most striking feature of the composition is the pro- 
found veneration expressed for the Divine Pair, the almost abject 
attitudes, the protesting hands. Leonardo did not propose to use grand 
and simple lines in this picture, as in the Last StLppei'-, but rather to be 
lavish of picturesque groups ; he treated the theme from the pictorial 
rather than from the decorative standpoint, introducing trees, which 
would have produced a magnificent effect ; heads of horses full of 
character and animation; in the background, other horses, with mighty 
necks and chests, caracoling as in the Battle of Anghiari. The picture 
would have been lively, varied, and picturesque beyond any finished 
work by the master. A supreme distinction breathes from it, the 
charm of reverie ; we note the master's pre-occupation with astonishino- 
problems of chiaroscuro, of greater subtlety than those of Correggio, 
The sketch, in fact, is a grandiose creation, containing passages in a 
heroic style peculiar to Leonardo ; the heroism here is more human, 
more picturesque, less abstract than that of Michelangelo. 

The principal scene takes place in the open air, in a wide landscape, 
with lofty trees in the centre, and rocks in the background. The ox 
and the ass have disappeared. In the foreground, about the middle of 
the composition, the Virgin is seated ; smiling, yet deeply moved, she 
presents her Son to the adoring kings. Her attitude has been slightly 
modified in the interval between the execution of the Galichon drawing 
and that of the Uffizi cartoon. In the former, she was seen almost in 
profile, bending forward; she is now erect, and has more dignity in 
her bearing, greater liberty in her gaze. She is charming both in 
expression and attitude, her left foot drawn back over her right, a 



72 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 




STUDY FOR THE 



OF THE MAGI. 



(Malcolm Collection, British Museum.) 



motive which seems to have inspired Raphael in the Madonna di 
Foligno, where the same pose of foot and head is adopted. The Child 

has undergone modifica- 
tions no less important. 
In the drawing, he was 
seated on his mother's 
knee, and turning his back 
to her, he bent forward to 
the king kneeling before 
him ; in the cartoon, he 
rests comfortably upon 
her lap, reclining rather 
than sitting, his right hand 
gracefully raised, while 
with his left he touches 

the vase the donor offers him. The latter, who was naked in the 

Galichon drawing, is now draped in an ample cloak ; instead of holding 

out the vase to the Child with both hands, he offers it with one, 

resting the other upon the ground. In short, there is not a figure in 

the group which does not testify to the enormous amount of work 

bestowed on the composition. 

The spectators on either side call for our special attention. Some 

are full of majesty, others of eager animation. They are grouped with 

inimitable ease and liberty. By 

an artifice, the secrets of which 

have been known only to the 

greatest dramatists, Leonardo 

opposes the calm of the persons 

standing at the extremities, and 

enframing the composition, so 

to speak, to the emotional and 

passionate gestures of those 

who press towards the Virgin, 

or kneel before her. 

Here, again, Raphael was 

inspired by Leonardo ; he (The Louvre > 




STUDY FOR THE ADORATION 



THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI" 



73 



borrowed several of the worshippers placed to the left in his Dispute of 
the Sacrament, one of the most animated and eloquent of his groups. 




TYPES OF VIRGIN AND CHILD. SCHOOL OF LEONARDO. 

(Bonnat Collection, Paris.) 



This imitation is very evident in a drawing in the late Due d'Aumale's 

collection.^ Three of the figures on the left, the old man leaning 

^ See Crowe and Cavalcaselle, Raphael, vol. ii. p. 3 1-34. 



74 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

forward, the young man In profile beside him, and the man with his 
back to the spectator in the foreground, are ahnost exactly reproduced ; 
as is also the person standing on the extreme left, wrapped in a cloak, 
his chin resting on his hand. The breadth and majesty of this last 
figure, indeed, inspired yet another artist, more powerful and original 
than Raphael, an artist who was always ready to cry out against 
plagiarism, though he himself did not fail to lay the works of his 
predecessors under contribution. I refer to Michelangelo. Compare 
the figure of God the Father in his Creation of Eve in the Sistine 
Chapel with this old man of Leonardo's. The analogy is striking. 

In this Adoration of the Magi, which biographers have passed 
over almost in silence, we have, in fact, the germs of two masterpieces 
by Michelangelo and by Raphael. 

It is only men of genius like Leonardo who can thus lavish, to 
some extent unconsciously, treasures which make the fortunes of 
others, great and small. 

The background of the cartoon consists of classic ruins, with 
crumbling arches, beneath which are animated groups of men on foot 
and on horseback ; the double staircase is retained, and several figures 
are seated on the steps on one side. 

Of all the episodes of the sacred story, the Adoration of the Magi 
is that which lends itself best to the introduction of the hippie element.^ 
It must therefore have been specially attractive to Leonardo, at all 
times such an ardent lover of horses. 

Without transgressing the rules of sacred imagery, he was able to 
indulge a taste on which, indeed, he had every reason to congratulate 
himself He accordingly gives us some dozen horses in every variety 
of attitude : lying down, standing, resting, walking, rearing, galloping. 
In the background to the right we have a regular cavalry skirmish, a 
forecast of that in the Battle of Anghiari\ naked combatants struggling 
among the feet of the horses on the ground, a woman, also naked, 
flying in terror, etc.^ The central action suffers a little from their 

1 We need only recall the superb cavalcade of Gentile da Fabriano's Adoration of the 
Magi, in the Accademia at Florence; the chargers, fiery or placid, which abound in 
Benozzo Gozzoli's frescoes in the Riccardi Palace, and in Fra Filippo's and Filippino 
Lippi's pictures in the Uffizi. 

2 A horse's head in the Windsor collection seems to bear some relation to the horse 



"THE ADORATION OF THE MAGI" 75 

vicinity ; but great men alone are privileged to digress in this fashion. 
The vegetation, always so carefully observed by Leonardo, has not 
been sacrificed. A magnificent palm rises in the middle distance, near 
the centre. 

One other peculiarity should be noted. Leonardo, a painter ex- 
clusively, with a certain contempt for the decorative arts, has not given 
the costumes of his heroes the richness by which these are generally 
marked in the art of the Middle Ages and of the early Renaissance. 

He has dressed his personages in tunics, togas, or mantles, recalling 
those of the ancients — one of his rare gleanings from the art of Greece 
and Rome — but draped with greater freedom. Again, the vessels 
containing the offerings of the monarchs have none of the magnifi- 
cence invariably bestowed on them by the primitive painters, and so 
well adapted to relieve the lines of a composition. They are chalices 
of simple shape and small size, with covers terminating in knobs. 

One of the most learned of our modern art-historians has given an 
excellent analysis of the technique of the cartoon :^ "Leonardo," he says, 
" first made a very careful drawing with pen or brush on the prepared 
panel ; he put the whole into perspective, as the drawing in the Uffizi 
shows ; he then shaded with brown colour ; but as he made use of a 
kind of bitumen, it has lowered very much in tone, and, in his finished 
works, this bituminous colour has absorbed all the others, and black- 
ened the shadows extravagantly." Vasari, too, described Leonardo's 
innovations in much the same tone : " He introduced a certain dark- 
ness into oil-painting, which the moderns have adopted to give greater 

vigour and relief to their figures Anxious to relieve the objects 

he represented as much as possible, he strove to produce the most 
intense blacks by means of dark shadows, and thus to make the 
luminous parts of his pictures more brilliant ; the result being that he 
gradually suppressed the high lights, and that his pictures have the 
effect of night-pieces."^ 

Unconsciously or deliberately, Leonardo shows predilections no less 

standing to the left in the Adoration of the Magi, as does another horse's head, with 
indications of measurements, in MS. A of the BibHotheque de ITnstitut. 

1 Passavant apud Rigollot, Catalogue de PCEuvre de Leonard de Vinci, p. 314. 

2 For the progress brought about by Leonardo in the art of modeUing, see Briicke 
and Hehiiholtz's Principes Scientifiques des Beaux Arts, p. no— iii. Paris, 1878 (tr. 
from the German). 

L 2 



76 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



pronounced with regard to colour harmonies. For the more or 
less crude harmonies of his predecessors, he substituted a subtle scale, 
made up of subdued tints, such as bistre and bitumen ; in these 
matters he was more ingenious than Rembrandt himself. Here the 
theorist confirmed the tendencies of the practitioner. We must read 
chap. Ixxiv. of the Trattato della Pithira to see with what irony he 

rallies the mediocre painters who hide 
their incompetence under a blaze of gold 
and of ultramarine. 

In another innovation, he meets 
Masaccio on common ground, if, indeed, 
his practice was not a reminiscence of 
the earlier master. Suppressing all idle 
accessories, he gives the place of honour 
to the human figure, stripped of vain 
ornament, and "reduced to the simplicity 
of antique costume. This was, indeed, 
the principle of classic art itself, but 
his was a classicism invariably warmed 
and animated by the study of nature. 

Let us now examine his concep- 
tion of a picture. Leonardo's prede- 
cessors had all sacrificed more or less to 
literary painting — I mean painting in which ideas, motives, and com- 
position come before a preoccupation with the problems of technique. 
They were born narrators ; narrators now emotional, now amusing, apt 
in the illustration of some abstract idea by means of a figure or a 
gesture, skilful commentators, adding expression to the episodes of 
the Scriptures or the legends of the Saints by a thousand ingenious 
touches. How far removed were such achievements from Leonardo's 
ambitions ! No artist was ever less disposed to submit to the bondage 
of literature. He wished his pictures to command admiration for 
themselves, not for the subjects with which they dealt ; his triumphs 
lay in the solution of some problem of perspective, of illumination, 
of grouping, above all of modelling. For the rest, he trusted to his 
own poetical and emotional instincts. 




for the adoration of the magi 
(fragment). 
(The Valton Collection.) 



LEONARDO'S ARTISTIC METHOD 



77 




^J^} 



If we consider the invention shown in his figures, we shall find 
that here, too, Leonardo proclaims the rights of the great historical 
painter. After Fra Angelico, concurrently with Perugino, and before 
Michelangelo, he banished portraits of friends or patrons from his 
sacred pictures. Not that he did not often seek inspiration in real 
persons, but he subjected them to an elaborate process of modifi- 
cation and assimilation before giving them a place in the sanctuary 
of art. See, for instance, his Las^ Supper, 
In short, he never introduced a portrait in 
any of his compositions ; his characters 
are either purely imaginary, or highly 
idealised. 

These various analyses will make it easy 
for us to characterise the progress realised, 
or I should perhaps rather say, the revolu- 
tion accomplished, by Leonardo in painting. 
Studying nature with passion, and all the 
sciences that tend to its more perfect repro- 
duction — anatomy, perspective, physiognomy 
— and consulting classic models while pre- 
serving all the independence proper to his cha- 
racter, he could not fail to combine precision 
with liberty, and truth with beauty. It is 
in this final emancipation, this perfect mastery of modelling, of 
illumination, and of expression, this breadth and freedom, that the 
master's 7'aison d'etre and glory consist. Others may have struck 
out new paths also ; but none travelled further or mounted higher 
than he. 

The best informed and the most enthusiastic of his biographers, 
the excellent Vasari, has well defined what was in some sort a 
providential mission. After enumerating all the artistic leaders of the 
fifteenth century, he adds : " The works of Leonardo da Vinci demon- 
strated the errors of these artists most completely. He inaugurated the 
third, or modern manner. Besides the boldness and brilliance of his 
drawing, the perfection with which he reproduced the most subtle 
minutiae of nature, he seemed to give actual breath and movement to 




STUDY FOR THE ADORATION OF THE 
MAGI " (fragment). 

(Cologne Museum.) 



78 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

his figures, thanks to the excellency of his theory, the superiority of his 
composition, the precision of his proportions, the beauty of his design, 
and his exquisite grace ; the wealth of his resources was only equalled 
by the depth of his art (" abbondantissimo di copie, profondissimo 
di arte"). It would be difficult to say more happily that the supreme 
evolution of painting is due to Leonardo. 

We shall perhaps better appreciate the immeasurable superiority of 
the Adoration of the Magi if we compare it with certain Florentine 
works of the same century. 

We may take, for instance, Domenico Ghirlandajo's Adoration of 
the Magi in the Uffizi, painted in 1487. Note the timidity of the 
action, and the stiffness of the horses in the background. As compared 
with Leonardo's manner, Ghirlandajo's is dry and crude, especially in 
his frescoes of the History of Santa Fina. Leonardo, thanks to the 
laws of chiaroscuro, which he strove to bring to perfection all his life 
long, was able to give his modelling a relief unknown to his predecessors, 
and to blend his colours with a suavity and morbidezza undreamt of 
heretofore, especially by Ghirlandajo. 

If we turn to Filipplno Lippi, we find the living antithesis of 
Leonardo. The one is brilliant indeed, but superficial ; more inclined 
to literary painting than to the subtleties of design or colour ; the other 
full of earnestness and conviction, gifted in the highest degree with the 
sense of form and of beauty. 

Chance brought Leonardo and Filippino into contact on three several 
occasions. On the first, as we have seen, Filippino was charged (1483) 
with the execution of the altar-piece which had been ordered from 
Leonardo for the Chapel of S. Bernard in the Palazzo Vecchio of 
Florence. He had to fulfil the same mission again in 1496, and supply 
the Adoration of the Magi for the monastery of San Donato. On the 
third occasion, it was Leonardo, on the other hand, who begged 
Filippino to transfer to him a commission for an altar-piece for the 
Servites. Filippino, courteous and obliging, readily acceded to his 
request. But Leonardo, as usual, left the work unfinished, and in 1503 
Filippino resumed his former contract, which death alone prevented 
him from carrying out. 



STUDIES FOR A " S. JEROME" 79 

The Adoration of the Magi as rendered respectively by Filippino 
and by Leonardo, illustrates the difference between the two masters to 
perfection. In Filippino's, in spite of passages of great beauty, such as 
the figure of the crouching shepherd, which is not unworthy of the 
brush of Raphael, we are conscious of the lack of expression in the 
heads ; all, but especially those in the foreground, are empty, trivial, 
and marked by a facile cleverness. Filippino did not fail to introduce 
portraits of his contemporaries, notably the Medici, an expedient to 
which Leonardo never lent himself. 

On the other hand, Filippino could not wholly resist the fascination 
of his rival. The figure in profile with uplifted hands, behind the 
crouching shepherd, was evidently inspired by the personage in the 
middle distance on the right in Leonardo's cartoon. 

The drawing of 5. Jerome at Windsor and the sketch of 
^\ Jerome on panel in the Vatican Gallery (formerly in the Fesch 
collection) are generally classed among the productions of the 
Florentine period. ^ The saint is represented on his knees, holding 
a crucifix in one hand, and about to strike himself on the breast 
with the other. The drawing is as firm and vigorous in execution 
as the sketch is blurred and hesitating. The vicissitudes through 
which the latter passed in its humiliation explain its imperfections 
all too well. The head was cut out from the panel, and was long 
separated from the composition. The features have an expression 
of deep suffering. The traditional lion at the Saint's side is superbly 
modelled. There is a church in the background, in which we 
recognise Santa Maria Novella at Florence, with the fa9ade as 
restored by L. B. Alberti.^ 

The first thing that strikes us in considering this period of 
Leonardo's activity (from 1472, when he was received a member of the 
Guild of Painters at Florence, to 1482 or 1483, the date of his 
departure for Milan) is the extreme rarity of his works. Some two or 
three pictures and sketches are all we can point to as the fruits of these 

^ About 1478, according to Herr Miiller-Walde. (Jahrbuch der kg. Kunstsamm- 
lungen, 1891, p. 126.) 

^ De Geymiiller apud Richter, vol. ii. p. 54. 



8o 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



twelve years. And yet, vast cycles were projected and begun at this 
period in Florence and in Rome. How was it that the patrons of 
the day neglected the glorious debutant ? The reason is not far to 
seek. By this time Leonardo's tendencies were familiar to all. It was 
known, on the one hand, that he had little taste for large compositions 
with numerous figures, such as frescoes ; and, on the other, that his 

strivings after a perfec- 
tion almost superhuman 
often led to the aban- 
donment of a work he had 
undertaken. 

Whatever the date, 
whatever the authenticity 
even, of the works we 
have now enumerated, the 
AnmLiiciations in the 
Louvre and the Uffizi, 
the Adoration of the 
Magi, the S. Jerome, etc. , 
one fact is undeniable. 
Thenceforth a new leaven, 
fecund but disturbing, was 
at work ; and this Leo- 
nardo alone had cast into 
the ferment of Florentine 
culture. Thenceforth the 
reign of archaism was over ; its conventions and its rigidity 
were swept away, together with harsh contrasts of colour, the 
substitution of portraits for types, all, in fact, that implied effort and 
tension. 

Let us pause for a moment over this last defect, and leave the others 
for later consideration. Can anything equal the easy grace of 
Leonardo, the apparent carelessness which overlies his profound 
calculation ? His grounds, as we say now, were as conscientiously 
laid as those of any of his predecessors or contemporaries ; but by 




STUDY FOR "the ADORATION OF THE MAGI 

(The Louvre.) 



Shidy for the '' Saint Jerome r 

(WINDSOR l.IBKAKV.) 




Printed by Draeger, Pa 



SOCIAL ATMOSPHERE OF FLORENCE 



8i 



dint of superhuman labour he contrived to conceal all traces of 
preparation ; by prodigies of genius he gave to the whole the appear- 
ance of a work created by a single effort, and produced as it were 
by magic. 



To a nature so essentially aristocratic as that of Leonardo, the 
horizon of Florence may well have seemed somewhat limited. The 
artist was probably ill at 
ease in a society which 
was radically middle-class ; 
for popular prejudice 
against the nobility, and 
all that recalled the by- 
gone tyranny, had lost 
nothing of its intensity ; 
the Medici of the fif- 
teenth century, Cosimo, 
Piero, and Lorenzo the 
Magnificent, had con- 
stantly to reckon with 
it, in spite of their om- 
nipotence. And, munifi- 
cent as these wealthy 
bankers and merchants 
were, they could not dis- 
pense honours, places, and 
treasure like the sove- 
reign princes. In a com- 
munity in which an irritable spirit of equality still reigned, the artist 
had perforce to live modestly and plainly. This was bondage for 
a spirit so brilliant and exuberant as Leonardo ! The luxury of a 
Court, magnificent /^/^5 to organise, grandiose experiments to institute, 
a brilliant destiny to conquer — all these were attractions that were 
inevitably to draw him, sooner or later, to those elegant, refined and 
corrupt despots to whom most of the states of Italy were subject at 
the time, 

M 




S. JEROME IN THE DESERT. 

(Vatican Gallery.) 



82 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

But other causes were at work. Leonardo, we must remember, 
had no family. His father's successive marriages, the birth of numerous 
brothers and sisters, had finally driven him from the house he had 
for a time looked upon as his own. Among his fellow-citizens, he 
must have suffered from the blemish on his name. He may have 
had to endure ironical smiles, to hear himself branded by sobriquets 
more or less offensive. Among strangers, his illegitimacy could not 
be made a perpetual reproach to him, for the best of reasons — it would 
be unknown. 

I am inclined to think that much which was bizarre in Leonardo's 
conduct, his extravagance, his occasional horse-play, proceeded from 
his desire to place himself beyond and above the conventions of his 
surroundings — conventions which forced him constantly to expiate a 
fault not his own. Far from submitting to this humiliation, and 
suffering in silence, he defied public opinion, and, as he could not be 
the most highly esteemed, he determined to prove himself the most 
gifted and the most brilliant. 

We now approach a problem which has greatly exercised the world 
of art historians during the last few years. Did Leonardo go 
straight from Florence to Milan, or, yielding to the inspiration of his 
unstable humour, did he set out on travels more or less prolonged 
before pitching his tent in the rich plain of Lombardy ? A few years 
ago, Dr. Richter hazarded a conjecture at once bold and ingenious. 
Struck by the numerous passages in which the master alludes to 
Oriental things, he concluded that Leonardo had visited the East, that 
he had served the Sultan of Egypt, and even that he had embraced 
Islamism.i 

As far as the journey itself is concerned, there is a certain 
probability in the hypothesis, at least at the first blush. Many 

1 Zeitschrift fur bild. Kunst, 1881. The Literary Works of Leonardo da 
Vinci, vol. ii. p. 385-392. La Chronique des Arts, 188 r, p. 87-88. Cf. Charles 
Ravaisson-MoUien, Les Ecrits de Leonard de Vinci, Paris, 188 1. Uzielli, Ricerche, 2nd 
edit. vol. i. p. 72 et seq. Govi, Alcuni Frammetiti. Douglas, Proceedings of the Royal 
Geographical Society, June, 1884. De Geymiiller, Les demiers Travaux sur Leonard 
de Vinci. Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1886. Enlart, Les Monuments gothiques de 
C/iypre, 1898, 



SUPPOSED TRAVELS IN THE EAST 83 

Italian artists, architects, painters, sculptors, and founders sought their 
fortunes at the Court of the Sultan, the Czar, or the ruler of Egypt : 
Michelozzo went to Cyprus, Aristotele di Fioravante settled at 
Moscow, Gentile Bellini spent a year at Constantinople, to say nothing 
of the innumerable Tuscan and Lombard masters established at Pesth, 
Cracow, Warsaw, and even in Asia ! 

The arguments put forward by Dr. Richter rest on more than one 
striking particular. In a manuscript by Leonardo in the British 
Museum there is an allusion to the eruptions of Etna and Stromboli ; in 
the library at Windsor, a description of the Island of Cyprus ; one of the 
manuscripts belonging to the Institut de France contains a plan of a 
bridge, inscribed, " Ponte da Pera a Gostantinopoli ; " finally, in a 
sort of parable on the prohibition of wine, Leonardo shows his 
familiarity with a characteristic trait of Mussulman manners. There is 
yet another presumption, which seems still more conclusive : the 
famous Codex Atlanticus of Milan contains the copy of a letter 
addressed to the " Diodario di Sorio," the Diodaris of Syria, giving an 
account of works executed for the Sultan of Babylon, i.e. the Sultan of 
Cairo, by the writer : " I am now in Armenia, to devote myself to the 
works you charged me with when you sent me hither," wrote Leonardo. 
" In order to begin in the districts which seem to me best suited to our 
purpose, I have come to the town of Chalendra. It is a city close to 
our frontier, situated on the coast, at the foot of Mount Taurus, etc." / 

Another letter begins thus : " I do not deserve the accusation of 
idleness, O Diodario, which your reproaches seem to imply. But the 
rather, as your benevolence, which caused you to create the post 
you gave me, is boundless, I have felt myself bound to make 
many researches, and thoroughly to inquire into the causes ot 
effects so vast and stupendous ; and this business has taken me a 
long time, etc." 

From the report drawn up by Leonardo it would seem that the 
artist had been sent from Egypt to Asia Minor as engineer of the 
Sultan Kait-Bai. According to some Arabian documents, extracts from 
which have been furnished by M. Schefer, this sovereign travelled 
through the Euphrates and Tigris valleys in 1477 to inspect the 
fortresses which were destined to fall into the hands of the Turks 



^ 



84 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

about forty years later. In 1483 there was a terrible earthquake 
in Syria, especially at Aleppo ; and to this Leonardo's words " grande 
e stupendo effelto," seem to allude. In his report Leonardo speaks 
at some length of the ruin of the town, and the despair of the 
inhabitants. His descriptions are illustrated by drawings representing 
rocks, the Arab names of which are given in Italian characters, and 
by a little map of Armenia. 

In confirmation of these letters, the erasures and certain pecu- 
liarities of expression in which seem to show them to be actual 
compositions of Leonardo's, and not merely copies of docu- 
ments by others, Dr. Richter points out that there are drawings 
of Mount Taurus by Leonardo, and that we further find notes 
and sketches relating to the East among his works. We may 
add that, according to Dr. Richter, this journey to the East took 
place either between 1473 and 1477 or between 1481 and 1485, 
periods during which we have no information whatever as to the 
master's life. 

Plausible as Dr. Richter's hypothesis is, and strongly as it has 
been supported by some learned authorities, I think we must accept it 
with great reserve. Leonardo, whose imagination was always at work, 
may have gleaned information about the East from a variety of sources. 
An indefatigable compiler (some third of his manuscripts consists of 
extracts from ancient or modern authors), he may have transcribed 
documents composed by others, without taking the trouble to inform 
the reader (who was indeed, himself only, for he does not seem to have 
wished his writings to be printed), that he was not giving his own 
testimony, but quoting that of others. He may have drawn his 
particulars from a young man of the Gondi family, who was at 
Constantinople in 1480, from a member, that is to say, of the Floren- 
tine family who sub-let a house to Leonardo's father ; or, again, from 
a friend in Milan, who had come in contact with the Sultan of Egypt's 
ambassador when he passed through the Lombard capital in 1476. 
We know the names of a whole series of Milanese who visited 
the Holy Land : Giovanni Giacomo Trivulzio, for instance, went to 
Syria in 1476 ^ ; Benedetto Dei, who was appointed director 

^ Archivio storico Lombardo, 1886, p. 866 et seq. 



SUPPOSED TRAVELS IN THE EAST 85 

of the Portinari's bank at Milan in 1480, had also been in the 
East.i 

M. Eugene Piot's opinion, as quoted by M. de Geymiiller, is to the 
effect that the letters addressed to the Diodario might be explained in 
another fashion. It was not unusual in Leonardo's time to discuss 
contemporary matters in an allegorical form, as did the author of the 
Letters of Phalaris-asiA the Letters of the Grand Turk. Gilberto Govi, 
who was deeply versed in Leonardo's writings, did not hesitate to put 
forward an analogous theory in a communication made to the Academy 
of Science in 1881 : "The notes on Mount Taurus, Armenia, and 
Asia Minor," wrote the lamented professor, " were borrowed from 
some contemporary geographer or traveller. The imperfect index 
attached to these fragments leads us to suppose that Leonardo intended 
to use them for a book, which he never finished. In any case, these 
fragments cannot be accepted as proofs of his having travelled in the 
East, or of his supposed conversion to Islamism. Leonardo was 
passionately fond of geography ; geographical allusions, itineraries, 
descriptions of places, outline maps and topographical sketches are of 
frequent occurrence in his writings. It is not surprising, therefore, that 
he, a skilled writer, should have projected a sort of romance in the form 
of letters, the scene of which was to be Asia Minor, a region 
concerning which contemporary works, and perhaps the descriptions 
of some travelled friend, had supplied him with elements more or less 
fantastic." 

Abandoning this theory of a sojourn in the East, we have still to 
enquire into the circumstances which led to Leonardo's establishment 
at the Court of the Sforzi, so famous for its splendour and its 
corruption. What was the date of this memorable migration, which 
resulted not only in the creation of the Milanese school, but in setting 
the seal of perfection on the master's own works ? The author of 
the anonymous Hfe of Leonardo published by Milanesi says that the 
artist was thirty years old when Lorenzo the Magnificent sent him, 
with Atalante Migliarotti, to present a lute to the Duke of Milan. 
According to Vasari, however, Leonardo took this journey on his own 

^ De Geymiiller, Les der?iiers Travaux sur Leonard ae Vinci, p. 51. 



86 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

initiative. The two biographers are agreed as to the episode of the 
lute: "Leonardo," says one, "was to play the lute to this prince, 
a passionate lover of music. He arrived, carrying an instrument he 
had fashioned himself; it was made almost entirely of silver, and 
shaped like a horse's skull. The shape was strange and original, but 
it gave a more sonorous vibration to the sounds. Leonardo was the 
victor in this competition, which was open to a large number of 
musicians, and proved himself the most extraordinary improvisatore 
of his day. Lodovico, charmed by his facile and brilliant eloquence, 
loaded him with praises and caresses." ^ 

As regards the intervention of Lorenzo the Magnificent, the version 
given by the anonymous biographer is in every respect probable. 
Lorenzo perpetually played the part of intermediary between artist and 
Mecaenas. We find him undertaking missions of this nature for the 
King of Naples, the Dukes of Milan, the King of Hungary, and even 
for civic bodies. We know that it was not the only service of the 
kind he rendered Lodovico Sforza. A few years later he sent the 
Duke the famous Florentine architect Giuliano da San Gallo, who 
began the building of a palace for him. 

But when we turn to the date of the journey we are confronted 
by all sorts of contradictions. Vasari gives 1493, Messrs. Morelli and 
Richter 1485, the majority of modern critics 1483. Herr Miiller- 
Walde puts forward the end of 148 1, or the beginning of 1482.^ 

Let us examine these various hypotheses. A writer of the sixteenth 
century, Sabba da Castiglione, says that Leonardo devoted sixteen 
years to the model for the equestrian statue of Lodovico Sforza, which 
he finally abandoned in 1499. Deducting sixteen from the last named 
date, we get the year 1483. On the other hand, documents in the 
archives of Milan show that Leonardo was established there in 1487, 
1490, and 1492. The date 1493 advanced by Vasari must therefore 

1 A learned Milanese, Mazzenta, who owned some of Leonardo's manuscripts, relates 
that the artist played very skilfully on a great silver lyre of twenty-four strings, and adds 
that he was perhaps the maker of the " arcicembalo," which was formerly preserved with 
his drawings in the Via San Prospero (Piot, Le Cabi?iet de V Amateur, 1861-1862, p. 62 ; 
Govi, // Buonarroti, 1873). Libri further declares that Leonardo's design for the lute 
was among his papers, and also a design for a viol. 

'^ Jahrbuch der kg. Pr. Kunstsammlungen, 1897, pp. 107, 120-121, 126. 



LEONARDO'S DEPARTURE FOR MILAN 87 

be put aside unconditionally. But the brilliant Italian connoisseur 
Morelli, whose paradoxes made such a sensation in Germany some 
years ago, relies on the testimony of this same Vasari to show that 
Leonardo was still at Florence in 1484. 

" After the departure of Verrocchio for Venice, that is to say in 
1484," says the biographer. " Giovanni Francesco Rustici, who had 
known Leonardo in Verrocchio's studio, took up his abode with the 
young master, who had a great affection for him." But Rustici, who 
was born In 1474, was only ten years old at the date of Verrocchio's 
departure, and can hardly have studied under this master or under 
Leonardo. It was more probably after his return to his native city in 
1504 that Leonardo gave advice and lessons to his young friend. It 
was then that he helped Rustici in the operation of casting his three 
statues for the Baptistery. This view of the matter is confirmed by 
Vasari's statement, that Rustici learnt more especially to model horses 
in relief and in camaiezc from Leonardo. Now, Leonardo was much 
more occupied with studies of this kind in 1504, after his long 
labours on the statue of Sforza, and when he was working at the 
Battle of Anghiari, than In 1484. (It is Interesting to note that in his 
memorial to Lodovico 11 Moro, Leonardo already proclaims himself 
capable of executing the equestrian statue of Francesco.) For these 
various reasons we must accept 1483 as the date of Leonardo's 
journey to Milan, until proof to the contrary is brought forward. This 
date agrees with the statement of the anonymous writer according to 
whom Leonardo (born In 1452) was thirty years old when he 
settled in Milan. 

In spite of the mystery that rests on the first period of Leonardo's 
life, we are justified in saying that at an age when other artists are still 
in search of their true vocation, he had already grappled with the most 
diverse branches of human learning, and that in painting, he had de- 
veloped a style so individual that posterity has agreed to call it by the 
name of its inventor. Instruction has but slight influence on natures so 
profoundly original as his ; and on the whole Leonardo, like Michel- 
angelo, can have received little from his master beyond some general 
indications, and the revelation of certain technical processes. If his 
early career nevertheless lacked the 4clat that marked Michelangelo's 



88 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

beginnings, it was the result of the fundamental difference of their 
genius. Leonardo, the dreamer, the enquirer, the experimentalist, 
pursued an infinity of problems, and was as deeply interested in 
processes as in results. Michelangelo, on the other hand, struck 
but a single blow at a time, but it was decisive ; his thought was so 
clearly defined in his own brain from the first, that it was readily 
communicated to others. Violent and concrete works such as his 
make the deepest impression on the mass of mankind. Thus 
Buonarroti had all Florence for his worshippers from the first ; whereas 
Leonardo, appreciated only by a few of the subtler spirits, had to seek 
his fortune elsewhere. It is not a matter for regret, as far as his own 
fame is concerned ; but it has robbed Florence of one of her titles 
to glory. 




HEAD OF CHRIST. 

(Accademia, Venice.) 



MBRO PRIMO DELLA HISTORIA DELLE COSE FACTE DALLO 
IN VICTISSIMO DVCA FRANCESCO SFORZA SCRIPTA IN LA 
UNO DA GIOVANNI SIMONETTA ETTRADOCTA IN LIN 
G VA F IQRENTINA ^^ ^"pjjj qphoRO LANDING FI QRFN 



MILANESE MINIATURE OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY (FRONTISPIECE OF 
THE " ISTORIA DEL DUCA FRANCESCO SFORZA," BY G. SIMONETTa). 




CHAPTER 



LODOVICO IL MORO AND BEATRICE D ESTE THE COURT OF THE SFORZI 

PRINCES, HUMANISTS, AND SCHOLARS— THE MILANESE SCHOOL— LEONARDO'S 
PRECURSORS AND RIVALS. 

Qui, come Tape al mel, vienne ogni dotto, 
Di virtuosi ha la sua corta piena ; 
Da Fiorenza un' Appelle ha qui condotto. 
— Bellincioni, Visione. 




L 



EONARDO'S sojourn in Milan 

coincides with Italy's last days 

of brightness, and with the 

dawn of a martyrdom which was to 

last three centuries and a half. The 

year 1490 is the fateful date which 

marks both the culminating points 01 

a long series of successes, and what we 

should now call the beginning of the end. 

One alarming symptom, and one often 

observed at the outset of certain grave 

maladies, was the sense of security, of 

well-being, of almost sensuous pleasure, 

experienced by Italy at this psychological moment. " The year 

1490, wherein our fair city (Florence), glorious in her riches, her 



Braun, Climent & Co. 

STUDY OF A HORSE, 
(Windsor Library.) 



90 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

victories, her arts, and her monuments, enjoyed prosperity, health, and 
peace. . . ." So runs the inscription on Domenico Ghirlandajo's 
frescoes in Santa Maria Novella. Guicciardini, too, at the beginning 
of his Istoria d'lialia, fixes the apogee of his country's prosperity in 
the year 1490: "A sovereign peace and tranquillity reigned on every 
side," he says. "Cultivated in the most mountainous and sterile 
districts as well as in the fertile regions and the plains, Italy 
acknowledged no power but her own, and rich, not only in her 
population, her merchandise, and her treasure, but illustrious in the 
highest degree through the magnificence of many of her princes, the 
splendour of many famous cities, the majesty of the seat of religion, 
could point with pride to a host of men eminent in every science 
at the head of public adminstration, and to the noblest talents in 
every branch of art or industry ; with all this she cherished her 
military glory, according to the custom of the times ; and, endowed 
with so many qualities and so many gifts, she enjoyed the highest 
repute and renown among all other nations." 

The Milanese chronicler, Corio, celebrates the blessings of peace in 
almost identical terms, and enumerates the titles of his masters, the 
Sforzi, to glory : 

" The war between the Duke and the Venetians being at an end, 
it appeared to every one that peace was finally assured, and no one had 
a thought but for the accumulation of riches, an end which was held to 
justify every means. Free play was given to pomps and pleasures, and 
with the peace, Jupiter triumphed in such sort that all things appeared 
as stable and as solid as at the most favoured time in the past. The 
court of our princes was dazzling, splendid with new fashions, new 
costumes, and all delights. Nevertheless, at this period talent (the Italian 
author uses the untranslatable word " virtu,") shone with such 
brilliance, and so keen an emulation had arisen between Minerva and 
Venus, that each sought how best to ornament her school. That of 
Cupid was recruited from among our fairest youths ; thither fathers sent 
their daughters, husbands their wives, brothers their sisters, and that 
without any scruple, so that many took part in the amorous dance, which 
passed for something truly marvellous. Minerva, on her side, did all 
in her power to grace her elegant academy. Indeed, Lodovico Sforza, 



MILAN IN THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY 91 

a glorious and illustrious prince, had taken into his service men of the 
highest eminence, summoning them from the remotest parts of Europe. 
Greek was known thoroughly at his court, verse and prose were 
equally brilliant, the Muses excelled in rhyme ; there were to be found 
the masters of sculpture ; thither came the finest painters from the most 
distant regions; songs and music of all sorts were so full of suavity and 
sweet accord, that it seemed as though they must have come down from 
heaven to this famous court. . . ." 

But a nation cannot thus define and analyse its own greatness 
with impunity ; from the day when, ceasing to question its own 
strength, it believes blindly in its star, it is bound to decline. 
Hapless Italy, and with her, Lodovico il Moro, Leonardo da Vinci, 
and even the worthy chronicler, Corio himself, were soon to learn 
this by sad experience. 

Before studying the masterpieces created by Leonardo's genius in 
Milan, and his influence on the Milanese School, to which he gave a 
new inspiration and direction, just as Raphael did to the Roman 
School, we must glance at the Court of the Sforzi, his new patrons, and 
inquire what elements this milieu, at once youthful and suggestive, could 
add to the rich and varied treasure the new-comer brought with him 
from Florence.^ 

The duchy of Milan then, as now, the wealthiest of the provinces of 
Italy, was ruled by a dynasty of parvenus ; mercenaries, condottieri, in 
the full force of the term. The founder of his house's fortune, 
Francesco Sforza, the son of a peasant turned general, had married the 
natural daughter of the last Visconti, and established his dominion over 
the whole of Milan, pardy by force of arms, pardy by diplomacy. 
Francesco was succeeded by his son, Galeazzo Maria, a monster of 
debauchery and cruelty, after whose assassination the ducal coronet fell 
to his infant son, the feeble and anaemic Gian Galeazzo. Profiting by 
the weakness of his nephew, Lodovico il Moro, Galeazzo Maria's 
brother, seized the reins of government, rather by subtlety than strength, 
and reigned in his nephew's name, till he finally rid himself of Gian 
Galeazzo by poison. 

1 The details I give here may be completed by those in my Renaissa7ice en Italie 
e( en France au temps de Charles VIII. (Paris, 1885, p, 209-273.) 

N 2 



92 LEONxVRDO DA VINCI 

Let us pause a moment before this figure, so justly celebrated, both 
for its crimes and its enlightened taste — before this tyrant, perfidious 
as he was cowardly, before this fastidious and impassioned amateur 
who, among the contemporary host of illustrious patrons of Art and 
Letters, had but one rival, Lorenzo de Medici, the personification 
of liberality and discrimination. Yet even Lorenzo the Magnificent 
could not boast of a Bramante or a Leonardo da Vinci among his 
servants. 

Born at Vigevano on April 3, 145 1, the fourth son of Francesco 
Sforza, Lodovico was early noted for his physical and mental qualities. 
The most careful of educations added lustre to his natural gifts ; he 
rapidly familiarised himself with the humanities, learned to read and 
write fluently in Latin, and earned the admiration of his tutors by the 
tenacity of his memory, no less than by his facility of elocution.^ In 
person he was a man of lofty stature, with very strongly marked features 
ot an Oriental cast, a more than aquiline nose, a somewhat short chin, 
the whole countenance remarkable for its extraordinary mobility. The 
darkness of his complexion was particularly noticeable, and gained him 
his sobriquet of II Moro, the Moor. Far from feeling ashamed of this 
peculiarity, Lodovico was proud of it, and in allusion thereto, he adopted 
as badge a mulberry-tree (in Italian, Moro)?- 

^ '' Fu oltra li altri fratelli dedito alii studii ; el per il bono ingegno suo facilmente 
capiva il senso deli autori, di modo che, fra tutti li altri dominarno mai Milano, fu il piu 
litterato" (Prato, Archivio storico italiatio, vol. iii. p. 256-257). "Vir ore probo, 
moribus humanis, ingeniorum amantissimus, aequi servantissimus, nam et saepe jus 
dicebat, lites longas et inextricabiles brevites cognoscendo. Postremo fortunam 
adversam habuit " (Raphael Maffei da Volterra, Geographia, Book iv.). See also 
Roscoe, Vita e Pontificato di Leone X., ed. Bossi, vol. i. pp. 49, 141, 145, 146 (Milan, 
1 81 6). — Like all dogmatic spirits, Rio, the learned, impetuous, and eloquent author of 
L'Art Chretien, is full of inconsistencies. If it had been in his power, he would have 
sent the whole line of the Medici and many others, to the stake of the Inquisition, but 
for Lodovico he is full of tenderness. 

" Fu questo signer Ludovico Sforza, da la negrezza del colore, cognominato Moro ; 
cosi appellato primieramente dal patre Francesco e Bianca matre— ne li primi anni — ' 
(Prato, Archivio storico italiano, first series, vol. iii. p. 256). "Ludovico, il quale fu di 
color bruno, et pero hebbe il sopranome di moro, et portava la zazzara lunga ; si che quasi 
gli copriva le ciglia, si come dimostra il suo ritratto di mano del Vinci, nel reffettorio 
delle Gratie di Milano, dove si vede anco il ritratto di Beatrice sua moglia, tutte due 
m gmocchioni con gli figU avanti, et un Christo in Croce dall' altra mano " (Lomazzo> 
Trattato della Pittura, ed. of 1584, p. 633). Portraits of Lodovico, sculptured, painted, 
drawn, engraved, are innumerable ; besides the beautiful coin engraved by Caradosso, we 



LODOVICO SFORZA 



93 



Lodovico had the blood of the Visconti in his veins. His mother, as 
we have said, was the daughter of the last representative of that 
famous house. From his grandfather, Filippo Maria, he inherited both 
cowardice and craft ; a short-sighted craft, however, that finally turned 
to his own disadvantage. Vacillating and uncertain, a man ot 
schemes rather than of action, he was for ever laboriously spinning 
webs, through which the most blundering of bluebottles could pass 
with ease. His life was one long series of contradictions : he chose as 
father-in-law for his nephew, whom 
he intended to dethrone, so powerful 
a sovereign as the King of Naples ; 
he brought the French into Italy, and 
then moved heaven and earth to drive 
them out again ; he haughtily refused 
Louis XH.'s offer to leave the 
government of Milan to him during 
his lifetime on payment of a tribute 
to France, and immediately after, 
ignominiously abandoned his states. 
In short, he appears to have suffered 
from a kind of neurosis, which, at 
critical moments, resulted in utter 
feebleness and prostration ; he showed 
an inexhaustible activity in weaving 
plots, to which he was himself the 
first to fall a victim. Throughout 

his endless treacheries, however, one very modern trait is conspicuous, 
for which he deserves credit : he had an intense horror of bloodshed, 
a quality all the more praiseworthy in that the example of his brother, 
Galeazzo Maria, might well have accustomed him to strike by terror, 
instead of ruling by stratagem. Discovering a plot against his life, 
he was content, after executing the chief criminal, to condemn the 
other to life-long imprisonment, with the proviso that he should 

may mention the portrait in the Brera, attributed to Zenale, the statue on the tomb in 
the Certosa at Pavia, and a portrait in black chalk preserved in the collection at Christ 
Church, Oxford. (Rio, L'Ari Chretien^ vol. iii. p. 67.) 




antiqnarie ^fptticbe 

•ftomaneCopolkpcr 

piofpectinoIDeUncfe 

Mpictoie 



FRONTISPIECE OF THE ANTIQUAF 
PROSPETTICHE." 



94 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

receive two lashes yearly, on the feast of S. Ambrose. This was 
mildness indeed as compared with the horrible traditions of the 
Visconti ! 

Of restless temperament and insatiable ambition, II Moro seized 
the first opportunity of wooing fortune : scarcely had his brother 
Galeazzo Maria fallen a prey to conspirators in 1476, when he 
began hatching plot after plot against his sister-in-law, the regent, 
Bona of Savoy, After several years of exile, he returned in triumph 
in 1479, seized the guardianship of his nephew, and, until the death 
of the latter in 1494, exercised despotic authority under the titles of 
Duke of Bari and regent of the Duchy of Milan. ^ But the regency 
was far from satisfying Lodovico's ambition ; even the title of Duke of 
Milan could not assuage his greed : he dreamed of a kingdom of 
Insubria and Liguria, of which he was to be the sovereign. ^ The 
expedition of Charles VIII. in 1494 — 1495 interrupted the course of 
his prosperity for a while. But the storm passed over the Duchy of 
Milan and left no trace : the thunder-cloud was soon dispersed by the 
rays of that rising sun towards which all the rulers of Italy turned : 
Lodovico, the astute promoter of the campaign that ended in the 
battle of Fornovo ; and now, more powerful, more glorious than ever, 
he found himself the arbiter of Italy. 

Both by nature and by education, the prince had a passion for 
intellectual pleasures. But had this been otherwise, reasons of state 
would have made him simulate such a passion. The examples of the 
Medici had taught him that if he desired the suffrages of his citizens, 
he must appeal to their taste and their vanity. To epicureans such as 
the Italians — and they were epicureans in the higher sense — a liberality 
unaccompanied by the encouragement of letters, of science and art, 
would have failed altogether in its object. No political propaganda 
was so effectual as the erection of a sumptuous building, the ordering 
of a statue or a fresco signed by a famous name. The Mecaenas of 
the period, Francesco Sforza for example, may not have believed 
blindly in the civilising mission of masterpieces ; but the wily diploma- 

^ For Lodovico's history before his accession to power the reader is referred to 
a memoir published in the Archivio storico lovibardo, 1886, p. 737. 

2 H. Frangois Delaborde, U Expedition de Charles Vljl. en Italie, p. 217. 



Study for the Viroin with the Infant /esits (ascribed to 
Leonardo), 

(l)kniSH MlSKl'M.) 




Printed by Draeger, Paris 



LODOVICO SFORZA 95 

tists had faith — and a faith that was fully justified — in the effect 
produced upon the crowd by any act of enlightened magnificence. 
Lodovico, though his statesmanship was narrow, and although in a 
sense he took no thought for the morrow, never neglected this rule. 
He never relaxed his efforts to attract from far and near, any one who 
could add to his glory ; writers who would sing his praises, artists 
who would multiply his portraits. Herein, and herein alone, his instincts 
served him well. 

If he wanted a model by which to guide himself, Lodovico had but 
to turn to the most faithful ally of the house of Sforza, to that ardent 
and enlightened amateur, whose artistic insight was only equalled by 
his prodigious activity. After deriving inspiration from him in life, 
receiving from him counsel after counsel, artist after artist, Lodovico 
conceived the daring project of acquiring Lorenzo the Magnificent's 
marvellous collections after his death, more especially the intaglios 
and gems. A long correspondence with his favourite goldsmith, 
Caradosso, reveals the secret of his negotiations, which assumed all the 
importance of a diplomatic treaty. They failed, however, owing to the 
pretensions of the Florentine government, which impounded the Medici 
collections by virtue of a decree of confiscation. 

Though Lodovico passed for a prince after the humanist's own 
heart, lettered, intellectual, liberal — one contemporary likens him to 
the magnet which attracts the iron from far and near, to the ocean 
absorbing the rivers ; another affirms that it was his ambition to make 
of Milan another Athens — in everything connected with literature 
and science he lacked that unerring taste which the Florentines owed 
to a long and patient initiation, to centuries of culture. The 
Mecaenas is evolved, not improvised. Lodovico might encourage 
poetry and rhetoric among his subjects, might summon the most 
famous writers of the day to his Court — there was no result. The 
Milanese continued to write the most uncouth, unpolished Italian, 
and even strangers such as Bernardo Bellincioni of Florence soon 
lost the native distinction of their language in their provincial 
surroundings. 

The Milanese lacked intellectual depth. Neither the Visconti who, 
under Petrarch's auspices, had formed the admirable library of Pavia, 



96 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



now one of the glories of the French Bibliotheque Nationale, nor the 
Sforzi, had shown that holy zeal in matters pertaining to letters which 
possessed the Medici. Lodovico il Moro, who understood the art ot 
self-advertisement to perfection, disdained the obscure role of the 
bibliophile. M. Leopold Delisle found only one manuscript executed 
for Lodovico, a Sallust, among those in the Bibliotheque Nationale.^ 




PORTRAIT OF IPPOLITA VISCONTI, BY BERNARDINO LUINI. 

(Monastero Maggiore, Milan.) 

On the other hand, was it a question of advertising himself in distant 
lands, Lodovico would put a whole army of ambassadors in motion, as 
in 1488, when he begged Mathias Corvinus, King of Hungary, to lend 
him a manuscript of Festus. 

The pleiad of humanists — poets, orators, historians, philologists " e 
tutti quanti " — gathered around Lodovico was, in number at any rate. 



1 Le Cabinet des Mafiuscrits. See also the work of the Marchese d'Adda, Indagim 
.... sulla Libreria del Castello di Pavia, vol. i. p. 60 et seq., 142 et seq., 167; vol. ii. 
p. 85 et seq., loi, 124. Also Mazzatinti, Manoscritti italiani delle Biblioteche di 
Francia, vol. i. c. xcvii-viii. 




TOMB OF CARDINAL ASCANIO SFORZA, BY ANDREA SANSOVINO, 

(Church of Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome. 



98 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

not inferior to that which filled the palaces and the villas of the Medici. 
But most of them were strangers to Lombardy. Francesco Philelfo, 
the famous professor of Greek, was born at Tolentino, Ermolao 
Barbaro at Venice, the Simonetti in Calabria, Jacopo Antiquario at 
Perugia, Bernardo Bellincione at Florence, Luca Pacioli at Borgo San 
Sepolcro ; Constantino Lascaris and Demetrio Chalcondylas came 
from the heart of Greece. The poet Gasparo Visconti, the historians 
Calco and Corio, and the philologist, Giorgio Merula, alone were natives 
of Milan. The enumeration of these names in itself suffices to mark 
their relative obscurity. With the exception of Philelfo, who died at 
the beginning of Lodovico's regency, and of Ermolao Barbaro, who 
was only at his court as Venetian Ambassador (he composed a poem 
lauding II Moro as champion on the occasion of the tournament of 
1492), they are all laborious rather than brilliant spirits, chiefly 
philologists and chroniclers. What a crushing parallel for them was 
the Medicean coterie, with its Politian, its Cristoforo Landini, its 
Marsilio Ficino, its Pulci, its Pico della Mirandola, its Giovanni 
Lascaris, and a host of other shining lights ! All the efforts of II 
Moro, and even the encouragement he gave to the new-born 
industry of printing, were unavailing ; ^ the Milanese were deficient in 
the necessary training and their duke in refinement of taste, as also in 
that loving zeal which contributed quite as much as their munificence 
to make the work of the Medici fruitful. 

It may not be out of place here to acquaint ourselves with the 
chief of these literary and scientific men who, coming into perpetual 
contact with Leonardo da Vinci, formed an integral part of the circle 
in which he moved. 

One of his friends, the poet, Gasparo Visconti, attached to the 
ducal court at an early age (1481)2 was the author of a romance in 

1 The art of printing was carried on with great activity in Milan, and this naturally 
gave an impulse to letters. The first Greek book was printed at Milan in 1476. It was 
Constantino Lascaris' Greek Grammar. 

2 Document in the State archives of Milan, Pot. Sovrane A.— Z. Vitto. Visconti's 
poems have been printed in part by Argelati {Bibliotheca Scriptorum mediolanenstum, 
vol. i. p. xlv. ; vol. ii. p. 1386), who qualifies one of them as "rude." It is said that 
Visconti died in 1499 at the age of thirty-eight, but a text published by M. de Maulde 
{Chronique de Jean d'Auion, vol. ii. p. 331) speaks of him as having taken refuge in 
Mantua in 1503, and as included by Louis XII. in the list of the rebels. 



MEN OF LETTERS AT MILAN 99 

verse entitled: De Pmdo e Daria Anianti (1495). He begins it 

with an eulogy on Bramante, whom he knew to be in high favour 

at the court ; he then breaks into a dithyramb in honour of II 

Moro, no less exaggerated in form than vulgar in idea. He 

calls him 

Principe sagro, egregio tra li egregi 
Duca di duci e Re degli altri Regi. 

Going on to speak of the building of the monastery of Sant' 
Ambrogio, he relates how Bramante discovered the tomb with the 
epitaph of Daria and Paulo and, beside the bodies, some books 
covered in lead and written in Lombard characters. Then follows, 
in the same insipid style, a list of the institutions of Bishop Azzo 
Visconti. 

The verses of Bramante — for the future architect in chief of St. 
Peter's at Rome, the future " frate del Piombo," also tried his hand at 
poetry — ^ are, in general, no less rough and halting than those of his 
Milanese fellow-poets.^ Among these Lombard poetasters, the 
prize for barbarism falls incontestably to the author — an anonymous 
writer, happily for his memory — of the Antiquaria Prospettiche romane 
composte per Prospetlico Melanese dipintore, published between 1499 
and 1500, and reprinted in Rome in 1876 at the instance of Gilberto 
Govi. This poem, which consists of an enumeration of the antiquities 
of the city of Rome, is dedicated to Leonardo, whose praises are sung 
in the two sonnets at the beginning. 

Numberless other poems, more or less occasional, testify to the 

^ Some of Bramante's sonnets were published a century later in the Raccolta milanese, 
and then by Trucchi {Foesie italiane inedite di dugenio Autori ; Prato, 1847, vol. iii.). I 
have drawn attention to others in a MS. in the Bibliothe^ue Nationale {Gazette des Beaux- 
Arts, 1879, vol. ii. p. 514 etseq). Signor Beltrami has given us these sonnets, twenty- 
three in number, in a collected edition : Bramante poeta, Milan, 1884. 

2 I will quote here from among his sonnets the one in which, long before Ronsard, he 
implored his fair " dolce nimica d'ogni riposo " not to let old age come upon her before 
responding to his flame : — 

" Dunque, mentre que dura il tempo verde, 
Non far come quel fior che'n su la pianta 
Senza frutto nessun sue frondi perde. 

Che quando il corpo in piii vecchiezza viene, 
Pill di sua gioventu si gloria e vanta, 
Vedendosi aver speso i giorni bene." 

O 2 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



cordiality of Leonardo's relations with the Milanese versifiers. We 

shall return to the subject further on. 

Leonardo may perhaps have also met the youthful Baldassare 

Castiglione (born in 1478), who was sent to Milan by his parents to 

finish his education.^ 

At that time, too, a Visconti, Ippolita, the wife of Alessandro 

Bentivoglio, afterwards known to fame as having commissioned 

Bernardino Luini to paint his masterpiece, the frescoes of the 

" Monastero maggiore," and also as the lady to whom Bandello 

dedicated his Novelle, assembled 
the most brilliant of these choice 
spirits in her palace. She was 
already an important figure in 
1499, when Louis XIL confirmed 
her in several privileges.^ 

Nor did Leonardo disdain, as 
we shall see later on, to take part 
in the poetic contests organised 
in Milan. Indeed, did he not 




excel 



as an improvisatore 



PORTRAIT OF THE POET BELLINCIONI, FROII 
ENGRAVING OK 1493. 



Besides her men of letters and 

her scholars, Milan contained a 

number of eccentric spirits, more 

or less given up to superstition. One can easily understand that 

the new-comer may have interested himself in more than one of 

these scientific charlatans, even though he gauged their powers, and 

despised them. 

There was first of all his quasi-compatriot, Fra Luca di Pacioli, 

professor of mathematics, and a fervent follower of the doctrines of 

Pythagoras. We shall return later to this poor Franciscan monk, a 

writer no less laborious than unintelligible. 

More mysterious, however, is his connection with a personage 

whom this same Pacioli lauds as profoundly versed in the science 

of Vitruvius, but who came to the most miserable end, a certain 

^ See my Raphael^ published by Hachette, 2nd ed., p. 298. 

" Pelissier, Bulletin /listorique et philologique, 1892, p. 139-140, 



ANDREA DA FERRARA 



.1 What was Jacopo Andrea's speciality, 
know not. One of Leonardo's biographers 



JACOPO 

Jacopo Andrea da Ferrara 
what his philosophy ? We 
suggests that he may be 
identified with the " Jaco- 
bus de Ferraria, ingig- 
nerius " who superin- 
tended the fortification of 
St. Angelo at Rome from 
1485 to 1496.2 But this 
is a mere conjecture. All 
we know for certain is 
that Jacopo, implicated in 
a conspiracy against Louis 
XIL, was condemned to 
death with his accomplice, 

Niccolo della Busula, and 

that he was sent to the 

scaffold in 1500, though 

Archbishop Pallavicino 

had obtained his pardon. 

His body was quartered 

and the portions exposed 

upon the gates of Milan. ^ 

The sonnets, rhymed 
romances, and improvisa- 
tions brought into vogue 
by Lodovico, were suc- 
ceeded by theatrical representations. The prince seems to have 

1 "Jacomo Andrea da Ferrare, de I'opere de Victruvio acuratissimo sectatore, caro 
quanto fratello," to Leonardo da Vinci {FacioH, ed. Winterberg, p. 33). Leonardo 
mentions Jacopo Andiea three times in the MSS. in the Institut : once in connection 
with a supper at which one of his pupils committed a theft; once as having lent a 
Vitruvius to one Messire V. Aliprando ; and the third time merely by name. 

- Uzielli, Ricerc/ie, 2nd ed., vol. i. p. 382. 

3 A report upon the rebels, drawn up in 1503, states that " Jacques-Andrie de Ferraire 
was beheaded at Milan, and his goods given to Maistre Teodore Guayner, physician to 
the King." {Chroiiicpie de Jea7i d'Auton^ edited by de Maulde, vol. ii. p. 335-) 




THE CHRONICLER CORIO, FROM A CONTEMPORARY ENGRAVING. 



I02 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

acquired a taste for this kind of amusement at his wife's native Ferrara. 
In 1493, he opened a theatre, of which there is no other record 
than an epigram of Corti's.^ 

In dealing with philosophers, poets, historians, and men of learning 
in general, Lodovico — we cannot repeat this too often — hesitates and 
gropes. In dealing with artists, on the contrary, his judgment is 
absolutely unerring. Numberless documents prove with what 
solicitude and vigilance he directed the activity of the army of 
architects, sculptors, painters, goldsmiths, artists, and artificers of every 
description enrolled by him. He drew up the programme of their 
creations, superintended its execution, corrected, hastened, scolded 
them with a vivacity which bears witness both to an ardent love of 
glory, and to a most enlightened taste. This prince, so uncertain in his 
political opinions, gives proof in his many great artistic undertakings 
of admirable precision and judgment. Needless to remark, he was a 
declared champion of the classical style, and proved it on every 
occasion, now in the pursuit of antique statues, now in orders for 
goldsmith's work " al modo antico," now in erecting a triumphal arch 
" al rito romano," ^ for the reception of the Emperor Maximilian. It 
was, too, as a representative of the best traditions of the antique that 
Lodovico insisted everywhere upon air, light, and open spaces at Milan, 
as well as at Pavia and Vigevano. His choice of the architects, whom 
he summoned from far and near, testifies to his sympathy for the 
innovators, who were breaking down the superannuated traditions of 
the Gothic style. From Florence, he brought Giuliano da San Gallo, 
founder of a dynasty of eminent architects ; from Siena, Francesco di 
Giorgio Martini, celebrated both as architect and military engineer ; 
from Mantua, Luca Fancelli, court architect and sculptor to the 
Gonzaghi. The single exception to this rule — the invitation addressed 
in 1483 to the master-builder of the cathedral of Strasburg, Johann 
Niesemberg, or Nexemperger, explains itself: the Gothic cathedral 
of Milan was to be furnished with a Gothic dome.^ 

The embellishment of his capital was II Moro's first care, and here 

1 Tiraboschi, Storia della Litteratura italiaiia, ed. Milan, vol. vi. p. 13 14. — Uzielli, 
Ricerche, 2nd edition, vol. i. p. 62. 

2 Corio, Historia di Milano, p. 962. ^ Ji^ifue ahacienne, July, 1888. 



LODOVICO'S BUILDINGS AT MILAN 103 

he had much to contend with, for, then as now, Milan was no ideal city. 
In spite of the number and wealth of its inhabitants (in 1492 the number 
of houses was reckoned at 18,300, and the population — with an average 
of seven inhabitants to a house — at 128,100 souls ^), some dozen other 
towns — Venice, Florence, Genoa, Siena, Rome, Naples — offered a far 
more picturesque aspect, more unity of decoration, a much more 
striking ensemble. The absence of a river, the unbroken flatness of the 
plain, the deterioration brought about by revolutions, and more than all 
perhaps, the foreign yoke that had weighed so long and so cruelly on the 
Lombard capital, were among the chief reasons of this inferiority. Subject 
in turn to the Spaniards, the Austrians, and the French, Milan could 
not develop normally as did Florence and Venice, for instance, where 
modern constructions blend so perfectly with memorials of the past. 

The buildings erected by Lodovico are rather interesting than 
imposing or grandiose. It would seem as if the dawning Renaissance, 
fearful of being short-lived, had not ventured upon any but easy 
tasks, such as might be accomplished in a few years. We may instance 
the church of San Celso, the Baptistery of San Satiro, the Monastery of 
Sant' Ambrogio, built at the expense of Cardinal Ascanio Sforza, the 
Hospital and, above all, the central part of Santa Maria delle Grazie 
with Its matchless cupola. 

" This glorious and magnanimous prince," says the contemporary 
chronicler, Cagnola of Lodovico, " adorned the castle on the ' Piazza 
Jovia' with marvellous and beautiful buildings, enlarged the square in 
front of the castle, had every obstacle removed from the streets of the 
city, and gave orders that the fa9ades of the houses should be painted and 
ornamented. He did the same at Pavia. Vigevano he also enlarged, and 
enriched with many noble and handsome buildings ; he caused a fine 
square to be constructed, and paved and embellished the whole district." 

Born at Vigevano, In the fruitful plain Intersected by innumerable 
water-courses, Lodovico showed a predilection for It as a residence all 
his life.^ He summoned Leonardo to Vigevano, notably in February 

1 Cantu, Histoire des Italiens, vol. i. p. 157-158. [French translation.] 

2 On Vigevano, see Bellincioni, vol. i. pp. 35, 36, 150, 173, 194. — Decembrio, apud 
Muratori, Scriptores, vol. xx. col. 998; Cagnola, Archivio storico italiano, vol. iii. p. 188. 
Argelati, vol. i. p. ccclxxxi. — Burckhardt, Geschichte der Retiatssance^ 2nd ed., p. 7. 
De Geymiiller, Projets primitifs pour Saint Pierre de Rotiie, p. 51 ^/ seq. 



X04 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 




niANCA MARIA SFORZA. 

(From a drawing by G. M. Cavalli.) 
(Accademia, Venice.) 



1492. In 1495, Bramante repaired to the 
castle of Pavia, to seek the designs of the 
Clock Room "destined to serve as models 
for one of the rooms of the castle at Vige- 
vano " ; he also consulted a manuscript con- 
taining representations of the Planets, with 
which Lodovico proposed to decorate the 
ceiling of a room in the castle. ^ In the same 
year, Lodovico ordered a marble scutcheon 
from Gian Cristoforo Romano, for the 
church of the Misericord ia at Vigevano 
(now destroyed, )2 The reader may judge 




THE EMPEROR MAXIMILIAN. 

(From a drawing by G. M. Caval' 
(Accademia, Venice ) 



by a contemporary document, given in the 
accompanying note, of the multiplicity of 
undertakings which the duke carried out 
with a sort of feverish ardour.^ 

1 Richter, vol. ii. p. 236. D'Adda, Lidagini, vol. i. 
p. 156. 

^ Archivio storico delV Arte, 1888, p. 57. 

2 June, 1497. Orders issued to Marchesino Stanga ; 
First, to have a ducal scutcheon in marble placed above 
the Porta Lodovico, and ten bronze medals with the 
effigy of the Duke put behind the door (in the founda- 
tions?). Item, inquire if "II Ciobbo " (Cristoforo Solari) 
can execute this year, besides the sepulchre, a part of the 
altar, and whether all the marbles are ready; if not, 
send for them to Venice or Carrara. Item, urge Leonardo 

the Florentine to finish the work he has begun in the refectory delle Grazie, so that he 
may attend to the opposite wall of the refectory ; make a contract with him, signed by his 
own hand, which shall engage him to finish whatever he undertakes to do in a given 
time. Item, urge on the completion of the portico of S. Ambrogio, for which 200 
ducats have been allotted. Item, finish the half of the other portico, for which the 
Duke has alloted 300 ducats. Item, collect the most skilful architects to examine and 
make a model for the faQade of S. Maria delle Grazie, having regard to the height to 
which the church must be reduced, in order to bring it into harmony with the great 
chapel. Item, the Duke has said he wishes to see the street from the courtyard. Item, 
have the head of the late Duchess done so that it may be placed upon a medal with that 
of the Duke. Item, have the door, which is called the Porta Beatrice, opposite to the 
church of San Marco, opened, and have a ducal scutcheon placed upon it like that upon 
the porta Lodovico, with an inscription relative to the Duchess. . . . Item, have the new 
" Broletto" finished for the calends of the month of August following. Item, tell them to 
gild (?) the letters graven on black marble ('•' le lettere adorate in marmo negro ") for the 
portraits in the chapel. . . . (Cantii, Archivio storico lombardo, 1874, p. 183-184.) 



THE COURT OF LODOVICO SFORZA 



105 



The pleasures attendant on luxury, the organisation of festivals 
of every description, tournaments, dances, plays, diversions more or 
less ingenious and intellectual, absorbed the Milanese Maecenas 
almost, if not quite, as much 
as the cult of poetry or art. 
To hand down some great 
masterpiece to posterity was 
assuredly a most enviable 
mission, but, meanwhile, con- 
temporaries must be beguiled, 
and it was not by transcend- 
ent works that one might hope 
to delight the masses in the 
fifteenth century, any more 
than in our own. To this end, 
the resources of the capital of 
the Duchy lent themselves 
admirably. Except Venice and 
Florence — republics, with no 
courts, properly speaking, de- 
mocracies where strict regu- 
lations opposed a barrier to 
luxury — Milan was wealthier 
than any other city of Italy. 
Ostentation was almost a 
means of government. The 
pomp displayed by Galeazzo 

Maria Sforza on the occasion 
of his journey to Florence in 

1471, still lived in every 

memory. Had it not dazzled 

even the Florentines, the most ''eatr.ce d'este: from the monument by ckistoforo solar.. 

(Certosa, Pavia.) 

sceptical of people, a race 

not easily moved to enthusiasm ? Lodovico, like his brother, 
Galeazzo Maria, was of opinion that magnificence was the inevitable 
corollary of power. Nothing was too beautiful or too rich for his 
personal adornment. The famous diamond of Charles the Bold, 




io6 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

the Sancy, blazed in his cap or on his doublet.^ And if we turn to 
the "artes minores " what zeal, what liberality, what unfaltering discri- 
mination he displayed. Miniature painting as represented by the 
famous Antonio da Monza owes to Lodovico many exquisite pages 
of the richest combinations, the rarest delicacy of colour, and the 
most ineffable charm : to mention but a few at random, there is his 
marvellous marriage contract, now in the British Museum, the frontis- 
pieces of the history of Francesco Sforza, the Libro del Jesus of the 
young Maximilian Sforza in the Trivulzi Library. Music was held 
no less in honour by him ; I have told how Leonardo gained his good 
graces by his skilful playing on the lute.^ 

A series of ceremonies, partly private, partly public, gave II Moro 
an opportunity of admitting even the humblest of his subjects to 
the enjoyment of all these marvels ; the marriage festivals organised 
by him surpassed in brilliancy and refinement, as we shall see directly, 
anything that the Italy of the Renaissance had ever witnessed. Not 
one of these ceremonies, down to the smallest reception of an am- 
bassador, but was a state affair, in the full force of the term, setting 
in motion all the resources of Lodovico's imagination, for he had 
no idea of leaving anything to the hazard of the moment. To give 
one example among many — in 1491, when about to receive the 
ambassadors of the King of France, he issued the following instructions, 
the precision of which could not well be improved upon by any master 
of the ceremonies or director of protocols. The chief ambassador is to 
be lodged in the " Sala delle Asse," occupied at present by the most 
illustrious Duchess of Bari ; this apartment is to be left as it is, save 
for the addition of a bed-canopy ornamented with fleurs-de-lys. The 
adjoining apartments, hung with rich tapestry, are to serve respectively 
as robing and dining rooms. To the second ambassador, Lodovico 
gave up his own apartments, to the third, those occupied by Madonna 

1 Belgrano, Delia Vita privata del Genovesi, 2nd edit.'p. 100. Lodovico went so far 
in his pursuit of the rare and curious as to obtain a dwarf from Chios. {Archivio storico 
lojjibardo, 1874, p. 485.) 

In 1 48 1 the number of courtiers, functionaries and servitors of all ranks, who had the 
right of eating in the ducal palace, amounted to 170. (State archives of Milan. Pot. 
Sovr. A. — Z. Vitto.) Curious details touching these personages are to be found in the 
Chroniques of Jean d'Auton, published by M. de Maulde (vol. ii. p. 328 et seq.). 

2 On music at Milan, see Tiraboschi, Storia della Litteratura italiana, ed. Milan, 
vol. vi. p. 633 et seq. On the festivals, see the Archivio storico lombardo, 1887, p. 820. 



LEONARDO AS IMPRESARIO 107 

Beatrice, Jacopo Antiquario, and other personages. The Duke also 
enters into the most circumstantial details as to the arrangement of 
these rooms, mentioning the tapestry, the velvet hangings, and the 
furniture to be placed in them. The gentlemen of the suite he 
ordered to be lodged in the various hostelries of the city, the Well, the 
Star, the Bell.i 

Lodovico sometimes chose Bramante,^ sometimes Leonardo, as 
impresario for the more important of these festivals. In 1489, on the 
occasion of the marriage of Gian Galeazzo Sforza, the latter collaborated 
with the poet Bellincioni, in the construction of a theatrical machine, 
which they christened "II Paradiso." It was a colossal orrery, in 
which the planets, represented by actors of flesh and blood, revolved 
round the princess by means of an ingenious mechanism, and sang her 
praises.^ 

In 1491, Leonardo arranged the jousts held in honour of Messire 
Galeazzo di San Severino, Lodovlco's son-in-law. We know from 
his own account that on this occasion he introduced masquers repre- 
senting savages. 

It seems to me very probable that certain sketches of squires and 
pages, now in the Windsor Collection, are studies for the costumes 
Leonardo designed for these festivities. They are remarkable for their 
sovereign elegance and distinction. To Leonardo and his contem- 
poraries, they were but improvisations for the uses of a day ; but 
genius has given them a vitality that has preserved them for centuries, 
in all their freshness and poetry.^ 

In Leonardo's manuscripts there are a few rare passages relating to 
these masques and festivities. There is the sketch of a bird which is 

^ From a document in the State archives of Milan, communicated to me by the 
Vicomle Fr. Delaborde. 

2 De Geymiiller, Les Projets primitifs pour la Basilique de Sauit Pierre de Pofne, p. 48. 

^ " Festa ossia rappresentazione chiamata Paradiso, che fece fare il Signore Ludovico 
in laude della duchessa di Milano, e cosi chiamasi, perche vi era fabbricato con il 
grande ingegno ed arte di maestro Leonardo Vinci fiorentino il Paradiso, con tutti li 
sette pianeti che girovano, e li pianeti erano rappresentati da uomini nella forma ed 
abiti che si descrivono dai poeti, e tutti parlano in lode della prefata duchessa Isabella." 
(Bellincioni, Le Rime, vol. ii. p. 20 et seq. — Dulcinio, Niiptice ill. duds Mediolani quinti 
Joh. Galeaz Vicecomitis Sfortice. Milan, 1489 (Argelati, vol. i. p. dlxxxv.) 

* According to Herr Miiller-Walde, on the other hand, these sketches relate to a 
tournament presided over by Giuliano de' Medici. But I have already shown the value 
of this conjecture (p. 56). 

P 2 



io8 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 





SIGN FOE CANDELABRA. 

{Codex Atlanticus.) 



to figure in a comedy, a " design for a carnival costume," etc. He 
also proposes to have snow brought from the tops of mountains in 
summer and scattered in public places during festivities.^ 

The most gorgeous of these pageants was that held on the occasion 
of the marriage of Bianca Maria Sforza" with the Emperor Maximilian 

(November 30, 1493). From one end of 
the city to the other, the streets were 
hung with tapestries, garlands, festoons, 
and scutcheons, on which the serpent of 
the Visconti and the cross of Savoy 
alternated with the imperial eagle. The 
model of the equestrian statue of Fran- 
cesco Sforza, Leonardo's • unfinished 
masterpiece, stood before the castle of 
the " Porta Giovia," under a triumphal 
arch. The chapel was ablaze with 
hangings "more beautiful than those 
of Barbary, of Flanders or of Turkey," 
with candelabra,^ vases " al modo 
antico " executed after Lodovico's orders (note this term — " in the 
antique style ") with jewels and ornaments of the rarest kind, treasures 

^ Richter, vol. i. p. 361. Directions for a handsome carnival costume may be found 
in Manuscript i. (fol. 49, v°) in the Institut. 

2 These candelabra recall those which Leonardo drew on one of the pages of the 
Codex Atlanticus (ed. Govi, pi. xvi). Two contemporaries, Pietro Lazzarone of the 
Valtellina and Baldassare Taccone of Alessandria, sing the splendours — the one in Latin, 
the other in Italian — of this alliance, the most illustrious ever contracted by a princess of 
Milan. II Moro thought no sacrifice too great to secure the protection of the emperor : 
he gave his niece a marriage portion of 400,000 gold florins (equal to about ;^8oo,ooo), 
besides a trousseau valued at 100,000 florins, making up a total which represented 
nearly a year's revenue of the Duchy. (This revenue, according to Corio, amounted 
to 600,000 florins.) But, despite the power and wealth of the Sforzi, this union 
was far from being agreeable to the Germans with their strong prejudices as to birth. 
"The marriage," writes Commines, "has greatly displeased the princes of the Empire 
and many friends of the King of the Romans, not being contracted with so noble a 
house as befitted his Majesty ; for, on the side of the Visconti, as they who reign in 
Milan call themselves, there is but little nobility "—(These were indeed purists, for 
whom the Visconti were not noble enough !— the Visconti, who for a century had 
counted among their kinsmen and allies the Kings of France, and most of the ruling 
families of Europe !)— " and still less on the side of the Sforzi, of whom the Duke Fran- 
cisque de Millan was born." (Petri Lazarone, Epithalamiumn in nuptiis BlanccB Marice 
Sfortice cum Maximiliano Romanorum Reo-e, Milan, 1494. Argelati, vol. i. p. dxcvi.- See 
also F. Calvi, Bianca Maria Sforza Visconti, Milan, 1888.) 



LODOVICO AT VIGEVANO 109 

that defy description by the pen of the poet or the brush of the 
painter. 

A natural flexibihty enabled Lodovico, the fastidious aesthete for 
whom nothing was too sumptuous, and who might have given points 
to any Byzantine Emperor, to transform himself into a simple country 
gentleman : every now and then he opposed the charms of nature 
pure and simple to the refinements of city life, and the subtleties of 
a finished and voluptuous civilisation ; as a pendant to the splendid 
castle of Milan, he had the gardens, the pastures and farms of his castle 
at Vigevano. Does this not show that the existence of the Italian 
princes of the early Renaissance was wonderfully comprehensive, and 
that in Lodovico il Moro the man was as 
admirably balanced as the ruler was in- 
complete ? But let us inquire more 
closely into those diversions, which alter- 
nated with his enjoyment of the delicate 
and subtle productions of Leonardo's 
brush. At Pavia, the pleasures of the 
chase prevailed ; " The chasteau," says 
our worthy chronicler Robert Gaguin, "is 
a very beautiful place, and marvellously 
well plenished with all necessary things. 

And joining the castle is a great park, enclosed about like the forest 
of Vincennes. It is well furnished with wild beasts such as stags, 
hinds, and roe-deer, wild cattle, horses, and mares, goats and other 
animals. At the end of the park is a monastery of the order of the 
Carthusians [des Chatreux (sic)'], in which is a beautiful church, made 
for the most part of marble, and the porch all of alabaster." 

At Vigevano and in its neighbourhood, Lodovico the huntsman 
became Lodovico the agriculturist. His estate, or model farm there 
— it is still Gaguin who speaks — was "a place much esteemed for 
the marvellous number of beasts that are there, and that all may see 
with the eye, as horses, mares, oxen, cows, bulls, rams, ewes, goats, and 
other beasts of the like nature with their young, as fawns, foals, calves, 
lambs, and kids. The domain is nobly situated in the midst of a 
great meadow about four leagues in circuit. And the meadow has more 
than thirty-three streams of fair living water running through this spot 




MARSHAL TRIVULZIO. FROM A I'LAQUE 
ASCRIBED TO CARADOSSO. 



no LEONARDO DA VINCI 

SO well suited for industry, seeing that they serve for the bathing and 
cleansing of the beasts, as well as for the watering of all the meadows. 
The plan of the said demesne is a square, like a great cloister, and 
around it, in the park, are stands loaded with hay, besides the other 
goods that are there. In the court of the said demesne are 
governors and captains, who direct all the interior. The out-buildings 
behind are in the shape of a great cross. In this place are many 
servitors, their wives and families. That is to say, some for grooming, 
tending, and cleaning the beasts ; others for milking them ; and also 
there are others to receive the milk and deliver it over to the master 
cheese-maker, who makes it into the great cheeses they call here Milan 
cheeses. Everything is taken and given by weight. That is to say, 
the hay, the milk, the butter, the cheese, and there is a great wealth 
and abundance of all things." 

I must ask the reader's pardon for dwelling on details apparently 
so trivial. But they have their significance. In this careful measuring 
and weighing of milk, &c., we trace that love of precision that character- 
ised the Renaissance, the tendency to examine and classify — in a word, 
the modern scientific spirit ! 

Lodovico married comparatively late in life. He was forty when 
he was united to Beatrice d'Este in 1491. This explains the important 
part played in his life by his various irregular connections. He showed 
a certain distinction of taste, moreover, in his choice of favourites.^ It 
is not known who was the first of Lodo vice's mistresses. It may have 
been that Lucia Visconti whom he made Contessa Melzi, and who 
bore him a son in 1476, I know not if she, too, was the mother of his 
daughter Bianca (married in 1489 to Galeazzo di San Severino, died 
1497), and of Leone, the future Notary-Apostolic. 

The second of Lodovico's favourites seems to have been Cecilia 
Gallerani. Of a noble Milanese family, she had received a brilliant 
education, and spoke and wrote Latin and Italian with equal 
facility. Her verses were much admired, as were also the solemn 
orations she recited at various times before theologians and 

1 I complete, by means of the Fainiglie celebri d' Italia by Litta, and of the Archivio 
storico lombardo (1874, p. 486-487), the data furnished by Uzielli in his Leonardo da 
Vinci e ire Gentildotine milartesi del secolo XV, (Pignerol, 1890). See also Zes Amies de 
Ludovic le More, by M. Pdlissier, from the Hevue historique of 1890. 



LODOVICO'S MISTRESSES m 

philosophers. Her name and her praises are constantly to be met 
with in Bandello's Novelle. Many poets extolled her beauty and her 
talents. 

According to M. Uzielli, Lodovico's liaison with Cecilia began in 
148 1 at latest, for at that time the favourite received from her lover an 
estate near Saronno. In 1491 Lodovico presented her with a vast 
and sumptuous palace, formerly belonging to the Count of Carmagnola, 
the restoration of which was directed by Giovanni de' Busti, the ducal 
engineer. The building is now the " Broletto," or Finance Office. 
In May of the same year, Cecilia bore a son, who received the name of 
Cesare, and who, on the occasion of the solemn entry into Milan of his 
natural brother Maximilian, in 15 12, bore the ducal sword before him. 

If Lodovico's marriage with Beatrice d'Este did not entirely break 
the bonds that united him to Cecilia, at least it imposed some re- 
strictions on their intercourse. Beatrice, who at first showed a 
supreme indifference towards her husband, soon became jealous of the 
favourite. In February 1492, she declared that she would not wear a 
certain gown of gold tissue if her rival were permitted to wear the 
same.^ Lodovico was at last forced to promise either to find a husband 
for his mistress, or put her into a convent. It was probably about this 
time that he married her to Count Lodovico Carminati Bergamino.^ 

One word more about this distinguished woman, to whom we shall 
refer again in connection with the portrait of her painted by Leonardo : 
Cecilia Gallerani died in 1536 at a very advanced age. 

Details are lacking as to the character of Lucrezia Crivelli, who 
appears to have succeeded Cecilia Gallerani, and who also had the 
honour of being painted by Leonardo. In 1497, during the lifetime 
of Beatrice d'Este therefore, she received an important donation from 
her lover ; her son, Giovanni Paolo, was made Marquis of Caravaggio 
by his father, and thus became the founder of the family of that name. 

1 It was perhaps on the occasion of one of these disputes that Lodovico, after barely 
a year of marriage, forgot himself so far as to strike his wife. (Bertolotti, II Filoteaiico^ 
May-June, 1887.) 

2 This accommodating husband followed the fortunes of II Moro, in spite of himself : 
put by Louis XII. upon the list of rebels, he fled to Mantua (1503), and his pension of 
300 ducats was assigned to one of the Trivulzi. {Chroniques de Jean d'Auton, ed. 
de Maulde, vol. ii, p. 335.) 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 




Adopting the profession of arms, he signaHsed himself by his valour, 
and died in 1535. 

There is nothing to prove that these two favourites were ambitious 
of any higher glory than to sit to Leonardo. Nothing in them 
recalls the intriguing Isotta da Rimini, or suggests Diane de Poitiers, 
or Madame de Pompadour. 

The support and collaboration which Lodovico neither asked nor 
expected from the nobles of his court, he found indeed, in the highest 
degree, in his consort, the ambitious and energetic Beatrice d'Este, 
daughter to Duke Ercole of Ferrara. This princess had been 
affianced to him as early as 1480, when she was only five years old, 
for she was born in 1475. The marriage was finally consummated 
on January 18, 1491, and during the six 
years that were to elapse before her death 
on January 2, 1497 — she was barely twenty- 
two — few clouds seem to have dimmed 
their happiness. Notwithstanding her ex- 
treme youth, Beatrice at once gave a bolder 
turn to Lodovico's policy. To her counsels 
is attributed the ever-increasing rigour of 
the hapless Gian Galeazzo Sforza's imprison- 
ment. Her feminine vanity did the rest. 
Neglecting no opportunity for the humiliation of her niece, Isabella of 
Aragon, the lawful Duchess of Milan, she ended by provoking a storm 
which very nearly cost her the throne. We know how Isabella's trials 
at last drove her father, the King of Naples, to threaten Lodovico, and 
how the latter, to save himself, induced Charles VIII. to make his 
descent upon Italy. This time, all turned out well for Beatrice and 
her husband ; poison, it is affirmed, rid them of Gian Galeazzo, and 
their alliance with the other Italian States relieved them of the irksome 
ally they had called in, the feeble and pretentious Charles VIII. But 
let us leave political history and return to our own subject, the history 
of art and letters. There is no doubt that Beatrice, brought up in 
the traditions of the house of Ferrara, the dynasty of all others in Italy 
which best understood how to husband its resources, taught her 
lord to give more method to his enterprises, and to follow them up 
with greater spirit. 









BRAMANTE (AFTER A MEDAL 
CARADOSSO). 




OF S. SEBASTIAN, BY VINCENZO 

('Ihe Brera, Milan.) 



114 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

From time to time, in 1490, in 15 10, &c., the visits of Beatrice's 
sister, Isabella of Mantua, incontestably the most fascinating woman 
of her day, infused more life and warmth into these cold calcula- 
tions.^ With her passion for the beautiful and her fine intellect, 
Isabella was not long in singling out Leonardo da Vinci, and 
it was not her fault that this king of artists did not come to Mantua, 
and there take the place of Andrea Mantegna, then at the 
end of his long and glorious career. The Marchesa at least 
succeeded, by dint of many entreaties, in obtaining a few of his 
works, among others, the portrait of herself, that superb cartoon, 
for the discovery of which in the Louvre we are indebted to M. 
Charles Yriarte. 

A third representative of the house of Este, Cardinal Ippolito (born 
1470, died 1520), the brother of Beatrice and Isabella, established 
himself in Milan in 1497, the year of Beatrice's death. He was one of 
those " grands seigneurs " on whom Fortune had lavished her favours 
from his birth. In 1487, when scarcely seventeen years of age, the 
patronage of his aunt, Beatrice of Aragon, the wife of Mathias 
Corvinus of Hungary, secured to him the rich archbishopric of 
Gran, or Strigonium, in Hungary. In 1497 he left this to ascend 
the archiepiscopal throne of S. Ambrogio at Milan. His taste for letters 
(it was for him that Ariosto wrote the Orlando Furioso) was hardly 
inferior to his military talents. (In 1500 he gained a brilliant victory 
over the Venetian fleet.) His love of art was no less pronounced. 
Like his sisters, he was ambitious of obtaining some work from 
Leonardo's hand. Unhappily, an outrageous violence of temper 
dimmed the lustre of his qualities. Having discovered that one of 
his natural brothers had supplanted him in the good graces of 
a lady of Lucrezia Borgia's suite, he had his rival's eyes put 
out. In one of the stanzas of the Orlando Furioso (canto xlvi., 
V. 94), Ariosto shows us the Cardinal sharing both good and 
evil fortune with his brother-in-law, Lodovico : now assisting him 
with advice, now unfurling at his side the serpent standard of 
the Visconti ; following him in flight, and consoling him in 

1 See a study of the highest interest by Messrs. A. Luzio and R. Renier on the relations 
of Isabella d'Este with the Court of Milan : Delk relazioni di Isabella d' Este Gonzaga con 
Ludovico e Beatrice Sforza. Milan 1890. 



CARDINAL ASCANIO SFORZA 115 

affliction. 1 The fall of the house of Sforza did not interrupt 
the relations between Leonardo and the Cardinal. In 1507 we 
find the painter seeking the prelate's support in his lawsuit with 
his brothers. 

Lodovico's brother, Cardinal Ascanio Sforza (born 1445, died 
1505), may also be mentioned as a would-be Maecenas. This 
personage, whose crafty face has come down to us on one of 
Caradosso's medals, was the most arrant intriguer of his time. 
A worthy brother of II Moro, he long contested his policy, 
but ended by giving it the most devoted, if not the most loyal, 
support. At the moment of his flight, in 1499, Lodovico refused 
to confide the citadel of Milan to his keeping. For the rest, he 
was a man of intelligence and taste, and was capable, on 
occasion, of liberality. Poets, historians, painters, sculptors, musicians, 
sought his favour, when they could not obtain that of his 
all-powerful brother. To him the musician Florentius dedicated 
his Liber Musices, the chronicler Corio his interesting Historia 
di Milano, published at Venice in 1503. The sculptor Antonio 
Pollajuolo worked for him, as did also the medallist Caradosso ; 
and at his request Bramante planned the cathedral of Pavla. 
After sharing the misfortunes of his brother, Ascanio died in 
Rome, where Andrea Sansovino's magnificent tomb in S. Maria 
del Popolo assured his immortality.^ 

Lodovico's niece, Bianca Maria Sforza (born in 1472; married 
1493, to the Emperor Maximilian; died 1510), was, according to 
Lomazzo, soft as wax, tall and slender, with a beautiful face 
and graceful carriage. Unfortunately, it would appear that 
her intellectual and moral qualities did not correspond to her 

^ In questa parte il giovene si vede 

Col Duca sfortunato degl' Insubri, 
Ch' ora in pace a consiglio con lui siede 
Or armato con lui spiega i colubri ; 
E sempre par d'una medesma fede. 
Or ne' felici tempi o nei lugubri : 
Nella fuga lo segue, lo conforta 
Neir afflizion, gli e nel periglio scorta. 
^ On the miniatures in the manuscript of Florentius dedicated to Cardinal Ascanio, 
see Vasari, ed. Milanesi, vol. iv, p, 28. The general's baton belonging to Cardinal 
Ascanio Sforza is now in the collection of Prince Charles of Prussia ; his armour is in the 
" Armeria" of Turin (Angelucci, Catalogo della Armeria reale. Turin 1890, p. 47-48). 

Q 2 



ii6 , LEONARDO DA VINCI 

promising exterior. Bianca Maria was, in fact, thoroughly empty- 
headed, and more occupied with the distractions of court Hfe than 
with intellectual matters ; her husband soon tired of her. Before 
her departure for Germany she does not seem to have distinguished 
herself by any evidences of artistic taste.^ 

The activity of Lodovico was too restless and too devouring 
to permit of any other Maecenas at his side. Assuredly, neither 
his unfortunate nephew, Gian Galeazzo, feeble in mind as in body, 
nor Gian Galeazzo's wife, Isabella of Aragon (born 1470, married 1489) 
could dream of entering the lists against him from their gilded prison 
in Pavia.2 

An exquisite medal by Caradosso, and medallions in marble in 
the Certosa at Pavia and the Lyons Museum have preserved the 
lineaments of the fragile Gian Galeazzo, and a medallion by Gian 
Cristoforo Romano, the moody countenance of Isabella of Aragon. 
This most unhappy princess left Milan in January, 1500, to return to 
her native country, where fresh trials awaited her. She died in 
1524.3 

The ranks of the Milanese aristocracy included many brilliant 
members — the Borromei, the Belgiojosi, the Pallavicini — but their 
artistic activities were confined to the occasional building of a palace 
or a mausoleum, or to the ordering of some votive picture. 

The San Severini were more intimately connected with the life of 
our hero. One of them, Galeazzo, had married a daughter of II 
Moro in 1489. Four years previously his father had been declared 
a rebel by that very prince, and Galeazzo, in his turn, betrayed Lodo- 

1 The portrait of this princess has been bequeathed to us by Ambrogio de Predis 
(Visconti-Arconati Collection, Paris), and possibly also by Leonardo da Vinci (see Dr. 
Bode's article in Xhz Jahrbuch der kg. Pr. Ktmstsamtnlimgejt, 1889.) 

2 An unpublished document in the Archives of Milan proves, however, that Isabella was 
surrounded even in 1493 by a complete court. This document gives a list of the 
costumes made in 1493 for the ladies (" le zitelle ") of the Duchess' suite. Here we learn 
that for Ippolita Stindarda a gown ("una camorra") of blue satin (" raxo ") was ordered, 
for Cornelia Columba a straw-coloured satin, for Lucrezia Barilla one of white satin, for 
Laura Macedonia a satin gown " lionata chiaro," for Fiora di Spina one of " birettino " 
satin. Then come the gowns for four other ladies (making a total of thirteen gowns, with 
silk sleeves), and six gowns of cloth (" panno "), making a total of fifteen ladies in waiting. 
We must not lose sight of the fact that the government was carried on and justice admi- 
nistered in the name of Gian Galeazzo {Pot. sovrane ; Carteggio ducale ; Mobili ). 

^ See Luzio and Renier, Delle Relazioni, p. 151. 



ii8 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

vico to Louis XII. He maintained his relations with Leonardo, 
however, and in 1496 built himself a fine palace, " Roma Nuova," 
near Vigevano.^ 

The son of Cardinal d'Estouteville, Guglielmo Tuttavilla, Count of 
Sarno (died 1498), was distinguished for his taste and culture.^ His 
name frequently recurs in the poems of Bramante and his circle. 

Marshal Gian Giacomo Trivulzio (1447 — 15 18) had both a passion 
for enterprises on a grand scale, and the means for putting his projects 
into execution ; ^ but, being exiled from Milan during Lodovico's 
government, he was unable to give free course to his tastes till after his 
enemy had fallen. He commissioned Leonardo to make designs for 
his tomb, but we have no evidence to show that the project went any 
further than a few preparatory studies and sketches. (On the statuette of 
a horseman in the Thiers collection, see next chapter.) Leonardo, 
however, did paint his portrait, according to the already quoted 
testimony of Lomazzo, 

One word, too, as to the Melzi. They were rather Leonardo's 
friends than his patrons. One of them, the youthful Francesco, placed 
himself under the tutelage of his distinguished companion, and 
followed him to Amboise, remaining with him till his death. 

The atmosphere of Lodovico's brilliant and sceptical court must 
have been singularly congenial to a temperament like that of Leonardo. 

In what light did the Maecenas and the artist regard each other ? 
How did these two emancipated spirits react on one another, and what 
effect did their reciprocal penetration exercise upon the art, the science, 
the philosophy, the many lofty and pregnant qualities embodied in 
Leonardo ? Their minds were not without striking analogies. At 
once subtle and vacillating, Lodovico did his utmost to impose his own 

^ Paravicini, L Architecture de la Renaissance en Lombardie, p. 4. — According to 
Miiller-Walde {Jahrbuch der kg. Fr. Kunsfsammlungen, 1897, pp. 1 09-1 10), the portrait 
in the Ambrosiana represents Galeazzo. 

■2 See the Raccolta Milanese of 1756 (last page). — Burchard, Diarium, ed. Thuasne, 
vol. ii. p. 499. 

3 See Richter, vol. li. pp. 6, 15, 17. Lomazzo has left us a very exact portrait of 
Trivulzio : — " Giacomo magno Triulzi Milanese fu piccolo di corpo, ma ben fatto ; era di 
fronte spatiosa, di naso rilevato, con alquanto di zazzara, andava raso, come si vede in 
una medaglia di mano di Caradosso Foppa et in suo ritratto dipinto da Leonardo, et fu 
neir armi di singolar valore." {Trattato della Pittura, p. 635.) See also Brantome, 
CEuvres, ed. Lalanne, vol. ii. p. 221-226. 



LODOVICO AS A PATRON OF ART T19 

idiosyncrasy on his interpreters. Let us liear what Paolo Giovio, the 
priestly chronicler, says of him : " Lodovico had caused Italy to be 
represented in a hall of his palace as a queen, accompanied by a 
Moorish squire (in allusion to his complexion or his device), bearing 
a musket. He sought to show by this allegory that he was arbiter 
of the national destinies, and that it was his mission to defend his 
country against all attack." An illuminated copy of the Istoria di 
Francesco Sforza, by J. Simonetta (printed at Milan in 1490), bears 
upon its frontispiece a series of allegories or emblems scarcely less 
bizarre. In order to understand them we must remember that Lodo- 
vico always made art subservient to his political aims. In the fore- 
ground, on the shore of a lake, are Gian Galeazzo and Lodovico, 
both kneeling, each with his right hand lifted towards heaven, as if 
mutually exhorting one another ; on the waters a woman stands on a 
dolphin, holding a sail, beside a barque with a negro (in allusion to 
Lodovico) at the helm, and a youth against the mast ; in the air, 
S. Louis (Lodovico) appears to the two. In the vertical border is a 
mulberry tree, another allusion to the surname " II Moro," with a 
trunk of human form, round which twines a branch, terminating in a 
human body and face. The inscription : " Dum vivis, tutus et la^tus 
vivo, gaude fill, protector tuus ero semper," proclaims II Moro's 
beneficent guardianship of his hapless nephew. ^ 

Another enigmatic allegory on the bust of Beatrice d'Este, now in 
the Louvre — two hands hold a napkin, through which a fertilising dust 
falls on the calyx of a flower — has led one of the most learned 
warders of our national museum to ascribe the work to Leonardo, 
who alone at that time, it would seem, was acquainted with the 
mystery of flower fertilisation. Although we know now that this 
striking bust was the work of Gian Cristoforo Romano, one of the 
court sculptors of Milan, and that the emblem of fertilisation had 
already been adopted by Borso d'Este, the uncle of Beatrice, it is a 
fact that Lodovico affected such extravagant logogriphs, as if to 
challenge our powers of penetration. 

Everything leads us to suppose that the Milanese prince exhibited 
this taste for subtlety in his attitude towards science also. If our 

1 This miniature is reproduced in M. F. Delaborde's Expedition de Charles VIII. en 
Italic. 



I20 LEONARDO DA VINCI ' 

premises are well-founded he should have encouraged astrology, ^ 
alchemy, chiromancy, in short, every science tinged with mystery, 
or laying claim to some special secret or discovery of its own. 

When, in 1483, Leonardo came to seek his fortune at Lodovico's 
court, that prince had been governing Milan for four years. His 
subjects had therefore had time to gain some idea of his character and 
tastes. Leonardo, who is sure to have gathered such information as 
he could concerning his new master, seems to have been quite aware 




"the crucifixion, ' BY MONTORFANO. 

(Refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan.) 



of the duke's weakness for the occult sciences. This, at any rate, 

was the string he played upon in Lodovico by the aid of a programme 

bewildering in its variety. 

He proceeded to celebrate the virtues of his new patron in a series 

of allegories, more than usually abstruse, in which he represented him 

now wearing spectacles and standing between Envy and Justice, the 

1 He never formed any important resolution without consulting his favourite 
astrologer, Ambrogio da Rosate. He had also in his service the Jewish astrologer, 
Leone Giudeo, and the astrologer, Calcerando. (Uzielli, Leonardo da Vinci e tre 
Gentildo7ine milanesi, pp. 6, 41. See also the Archivio storico lombardo, 1874, p. 486.) 



LEONARDO'S RELATIONS WITH IL MORO 



latter painted black (an allusion to II Moro's dark complexion again) ; 
now as Fortune, or as victor over Poverty, covering with a corner of 
his ducal mantle a youth pursued by the hideous hag, and protecting 
him with a wand.^ 

Despite the many affinities between the artist and his patron, there 
is nothing to prove that 
Leonardo was among II 
Moro's intimates. To 
begin with, where did he 
lodge ? In the castle ? 
I doubt it, as he took 
pupils to live with him. 
We must picture him as 
living an independent 
life, except at such times 
as he mingled with the 
crowd of courtiers who 
accompanied Sforza on 
his incessant peregrina- 
tions to Pavia, to Vige- 
vano, to the Sforzesca. 
It would even appear, 
judging from the rough 
draft of a letter published 
by Amoretti, that Leo- 
nardo was sometimes 
whole months without 
seeing his patron. " I 
take the liberty " — such 

is the gist of the letter, which is unfortunately incomplete — " to 
remind your Grace of my humble affairs. You have forgotten me, 

1 "II Moro cogl' occhiali e la Invidia colla falsa Infamia dipinta, e la Giustitia nera 
pel Moro. II Moro in figura di Ventura colli cappelli e panni e mani inanzi, e Messer 
Gualtieri con riverente atto lo piglia per li panni da basso, venendoli dalla parte dinanzi. 
Ancora la Povertk in figura spaventevole corra clietro a un giovinetto, e'l Moro lo copra 
col lembo dellaveste, e colla verga dorata minacia cotale mostro." (Amoretti, pp. 50-51. 
Richter, vol. i. p. 350.) 




STUDY OF A YOUNG WOM 

(Windsor Library.) 



122 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

affirming that my silence is the cause of your displeasure But my 
life is at your service ; I am continually ready to obey," etc. 

Assuredly these Italian courts of the fifteenth century had more 
regard for talent than for birth ; it would, indeed, have been absurd in 
upstarts like the Sforzi to have laid great stress on length of lineage. 
Still, it was essential, if talent was to shine, and command the 
attention of the ruler, that it should be supplemented by polished 
manners, fluent speech, and a ready wit ; herein it was that the caustic 
Bramante excelled, and we learn from the Cortigiano of Baldassare 
Castiglione that another artist at Lodovico's court, Gian Cristoforo 
Romano, was not less brilliant in conversation. 

Leonardo did not possess the gift of putting his ideas into con- 
crete form to the same extent ; he had more fancy than imagina- 
tion ; his creations, with a few rare exceptions, were remarkable 
rather for subtlety than vigour. Rabelais, who may quite possibly 
have come across him in some of his wanderings, would have 
dubbed him " a distiller of quintessences." For this handsome youth 
and accomplished cavalier — he was a first-rate horseman — was before 
all things a dreamer, more given to delving deep into an idea, and 
resolving it into Its elements, than to catching the attention of the 
crowd by some lively and vigorous evidence of his Florentine blood. 
In short, his love of analysis destroyed his synthetic faculty: I do 
not think there Is a single bon mot of his to be recorded. We 
cannot expect epigrams from such a character, Leonardo had 
too much respect for the demands of science to amuse himself with 
brilliant generalisations ; he never quite lost sight of earth In his 
flights, and this very reserve gave to his thoughts — and who deserves 
the title of thinker more than he ? — an indescribable savour of reality, 
a tincture of profoundly human quality. With him we never fall Into 
the purely abstract. 

It is not without a certain approval that we recognise an indifferent 
courtier In the great artist and thinker. Though he had to reproach 
himself with many weaknesses, Leonardo never owed success to an 
astutely woven intrigue. 

It would be hopeless to attempt to disentangle any exact con- 
clusions as to Leonardo's financial situation while in Lodovico's 



LEONARDO'S RELATIONS WITH IL MORO 123 

service from the complicated public accounts of the period. Besides 
a fixed salary, he probably received sums in proportion to the im- 
portance of his work (according to Bandello, he had 2,000 ducats 
per annum — about ^4,000 — during- the execution of the Last Supper). 
He himself valued his time at 5 lire a day for "invention." 
Profanity! — to estimate in pence the value of time like his, the price 
of a day of intellectual labour which was to bring forth a master- 
piece destined to dazzle mankind throughout the ages. He should 
have said — nothing for the conception, but so much for the paint- 
ing. But if we would avoid misjudgments, we must adapt our- 
selves to the point of view of a time which confounded the artist 
with the artisan (the word artista still has this double meaning 
in Italian), a fusion or confusion, whichever one likes to call it, on 
which, deplorable as it is when we have to do with a Leonardo 
da Vinci, the greatness of the industrial arts in Italy, nay, perhaps, 
the vitality of art itself at that epoch, was in fact based. For no part 
'of it was looked upon as an abstract conception or an isolated activity. 
Leonardo's own ideas as to the respective value of the different arts 
were summed up, according to Lomazzo, in this maxim : the more an 
art involves of physical fatigue, the baser it is. 

The liberality of Lodovico Sforza has sometimes been called 
in question, Leonardo himself furnishing grounds for accusations 
against his patron. In a letter addressed to the duke, he complains 
bitterly of not having received his salary for two years, and of having 
consequently been compelled to advance nearly 15,000 lire on works 
connected with the equestrian statue of Duke Francesco Sforza, &c,^ 
Two other protdg^s of Lodovico's, the poet Bellincioni ^ and the 
architect Bramante, were also loud in lamentations over their poverty. 
But who is unfamiliar with these jeremiads, so characteristic of the 
humanists and artists of the Renaissance ! From Leonardo, in 
particular, reflections on the parsimony of his patron came very badly. 
Do we not know that he lived in lordly style, and kept half-a-dozen 
horses in his stables ! His complaint refers in all probability to arrears 
imputable to the controllers of the Milanese finances, after the dowry 

^ Amoretti, p. 75. 

2 Rime, Bolognese ed., vol. ii, pp. 14, 19, 20, 39, 53-54, 79, 80, 81. 

R 2 



124 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

for Bianca Maria Sforza had drained the coffers of the state. Lodo- 
vico was, however, admittedly somewhat capricious in his display of 
generosity ; one day, after exhibiting to the envoys of Charles VIII. 
of France, the priceless treasures of the Visconti and the Sforzi, 
he bestowed a very meagre present upon them, thereby running 
the risk of alienating personages of great importance at a critical 
moment of his career. Still, there is nothing to justify us in think- 
ing that he was niggardly towards Leonardo. In April, 1499, only 
a few months before the catastrophe which cost him his throne, 
he made the artist a present of a vineyard of sixteen perches, 
in a suburb of Milan near the Vercelli gate, with powers to build 
upon it. Also, when Leonardo left Milan he was in a position to 
deposit 600 ducats (about ^1,200) at the Monte di Pieta of Florence, 
and we know that he had lived at Milan in very lordly fashion.^ 

Whatever ideas intercourse with so cultured an amateur as 
Lodovico may have suggested to Leonardo, it was not in the power of 
any patron to influence the style of an artist of his calibre ; it was 
the sight of a new country, its ambient air, the indirect and latent 
teachings to be gathered from it, which brought about his evolution. 
It is time to attack this problem. Having described the social 
aspect of the city in which da Vinci was called upon to show his 
powers, let us now see what the special art conditions of Milan 
were ; let us see if, among his new fellow-citizens, there were any 
who, in the presence of such a master, had the right to call themselves 
initiators. 

The history of the Milanese School during the second half 
of the fifteenth century has yet to be written.^ Failing more 
definitive and deeper researches, we may, at least, call attention 
to some of its most essential features. In striking contrast to 

^ Leonardo, Vasari tells us, was liberality itself; he received and entertained all his 
friends, whether rich or poor, provided they had talent or merit. His presence alone 
sufficed to adorn and improve the most miserable and barest of houses. . . . Though pos- 
sessing, in a certain sense, nothing of his own, and working but little, he had constantly 
about him servants and horses, of which he was passionately fond, as he was of all 
animals. 

2 An interesting essay in this direction has been made by Herr v. Seidlitz : Springer 
Stiidien. See also Dr. Bode's article in the Jahrhuch der kg. Frtuss. Kunstsainmhtnge7i, 
1886, p. 238 et seq.., and my Histoire de /'Art pendant la Renaissance, vol. ii, j). 787 et. seq. 



TUSCAN ARTISTS AT MILAN 



^25 



Tuscany, which for more than two centuries had served as an art 
nursery to the rest of the peninsula, Lombardy had been con- 
stantly obliged to call in foreign masters : in the thirteenth and 
fourteenth centuries, Giotto, Giovanni of Pisa, and Balduccio of Pisa, 
the somewhat mediocre sculptor of the famous reredos of Saint Peter 
Martyr in the church of S. Eustorgio ; in the fifteenth century, 
Brunellesco, Masolino, Fra Filippo Lippi, Paolo Uccello ; the 
architect Michelozzo, the most distinguished among the pupils of 




DESIGNS FOR WAR CHARIOTS. 

(Windsor Library.) 



Brunellesco, and his fellow-students and compatriots, Benedetto of 
Florence, and Filarete. More even than these masters, Donatello had 
extended Florentine influence by establishing an advance post of 
Tuscany, at Padua. Roughly speaking, in the early Renaissance, just 
as in the time of Giotto, every reform introduced, every progress 
accomplished in Milan, received its impulse from Florence. Con- 
currently with Leonardo, architects of repute like Giuliano da San 
Gallo, Luca F"ancelli, and Francesco di Giorgio Martini, arrived at 
the Lombard capital to confirm the prestige of the Tuscan school. 



126 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

Bramante alone was of different origin, but would he have 
triumphed so rapidly in Milan if the Florentines had not paved the 
way ? Brought up at Urbino, a pupil of the famous Dalmatian 
architect, Luciano da Laurana, who himself had figured for a brief 
period — in 1465 — in the service of the Sforzi,^ Bramante tempered 
the austerity of the Florentine style by a characteristic suavity and 
morbidezza. 

It is with this prince of modern architects, the favourite of 
Lodovico and of Julius II., the kinsman and patron of Raphael, and, 
moreover, the only artist then in Italy who could measure himself 
with Leonardo, that I shall begin my review of the master's 
contemporaries at Milan. ^ 

Bramante had preceded Leonardo to Milan, where he was es- 
tablished in 1474, perhaps even in 1472, and like Leonardo, he did not 
quit the enchanting land in which he had worked till towards the 
end of the century, on the very eve of the catastrophe that scattered 
for ever the brilliant court gathered round II Moro. We know nothing 
of the relations between the two great artists. Leonardo only twice 
mentions Bramante in his writings, and that without any comment.^ 
But their occupations must have brought them into frequent contact, 
and if they did not actually influence one another, they must have felt 
the mutual appreciation due to their transcendent powers. 

At Milan Bramante was pre-eminently the architect of brick and 
terra cotta, in other words, of the rich, the varied, the picturesque. 
Dealing later with marble or travertino, he has no thought but for 
purity of line. He does not hesitate to sacrifice ornament. We have 
proof of this in his Roman buildings, the Cancelleria, the Palazzo 
Giraud, the loggie of the Vatican, the basilica of St. Peter's. These 
are models of finished classicism. But I greatly prefer the gay and 
vivacious buildings of Lombardy, where sculpture and architecture 
are gracefully blended, animating and restraining each other in turns. 

A characteristic instance is the church of San Satiro at Milan, so 
dainty, but so harmonious, with its barrel-vaulted nave, its coffered 

^ Bertollotti, Arc/utetti, Ingegneri e Matematici in relazione cot Gonzaga^ p. 18, 
Genoa, 1889. 

2 See my Histoire de T Art pendant la jRettaissance, vol. ii., pp. 360, 394. 
2 Richter, Nos. 1414, 1448. 



BRAMANTE AT MILAN 127 

apse, enlarged by a cunning device of perspective, and its gorgeous 
octagonal baptistery. Another of Bramante's designs, the marvellous 
cupola of Santa Maria delle Grazie, has been criticised on the grounds 
that it is not sufficiently pure ; it is, however, of sovereign elegance, 
with its rows of picturesque windows surmounted by an open arcade. 
In its airiness, its fanciful grace, we recognise the handiwork of an 
artist to whom structural difficulties were child's play. 

It is, perhaps, out of place to speak of originality in an age given 
over to imitation, an epoch the mission of which was not creation, but 
resurrection. All Bramante's work was not equally original. Just 
as at Rome he came under the influence of Roman models, so in 
Lombardy he based his art on the old Lombard style, with its red 
brick churches, so dignified and yet so picturesque, and into it he 
infused a charm, distinction, and sense of rhythmical proportion 
such as have not since been granted to any master of the art of 
building. We may boldly declare that under him Milanese archi- 
tecture eclipsed that of Florence. Recalcitrant as Leonardo may 
have been to contemporary influences, it seems difficult to imagine 
that he could have resisted the influence of such a wizard as 
Bramante. 

As a painter, Bramante was essentially a follower of Mantegna, 
from whom he got his taste for perspective, for crumpled 
draperies, and for a certain hardness of transition.^ To Vincenzo 
Foppa, according to Seidlitz, he went for the secrets of proportion. 

A whole phalanx of sculptors, lively and piquant, suave and 
emotional, worked and shone at Bramante's side. There were first 
the Mantegazzi (Cristoforo, died 1482, and Antonio, died 1495), 
archaic but masterly, and easily recognisable by their twisted 
draperies, and their innumerable broken folds. Their contemporary, 
Giovanni Antonio Amadeo, or Omodeo (1447-1522), has more flexi- 
bility, as we see in the inspired bas-reliefs with which he has adorned 
the Certosa at Pavia, that vast elegy in marble. Benedetto Briosco (from 
1483 onward) also distinguished himself at the Certosa. With Cristo- 
foro Solari, surnamed " il Gobbo " (the hunchback), the Milanese 

1 Morelli, Notizia d'Opere di Disegno, ed. Frizzoni. — Semper, in Kunst und Kiinstler, 
by Dohme, p. 23-24. 



128 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



school attains plenitude and freedom of form, as one may judge by 
the effigies for the tombs of Lodovico Sforza and Beatrice d'Este. 
A Roman sculptor and medallist, Gian Cristoforo Romano (estab- 
lished in Milan 1491, died 15 12), is famous for his tomb of 
Gian Galeazzo Visconti in the Certosa at Pavia, his broadly- 
handled and characteristic bust of Beatrice d'Este in the Louvre, 

and his portrait medals 
of Isabella d'Este and 
Isabella of Aragon.^ 
Finally, Ambrogio Foppa, 
surnamed "II Caradosso" 
(born about 1452, died 
in 1526 or 1527), unites 
a charming ingenuous- 
ness to supreme distinc- 
tion in his delicious bas- 
reliefs for the sacristy of 
San Satiro, and his me- 
dallion of Bramante. 
These masters formed a 
style less austere, less 
classic than that of the 
Florentines, but simpler, 
more varied, richer in 
life and poetry. 

If we turn to the 
primitive school of Milan, 
we find ourselves in 
darkness and doubt. Scarcely a dozen pictures are of incontestable 
authenticity. 2 The history of the school has been still further confused, 
wantonly so, I might say, by Morelli, who, having taken a violent 
fancy to two obscure artists, Ambrogio de Predis and Bernardino 

1 See my Hisioire de V Art pejidant la Renaissance, vol. ii. p. 516-518. — Venturi, 
Archivio storico deWArte, 1888, p. 55. — Bertolotti, Figuli, pp. 71, 89-90. 

2 See Passavant, Kunstblatt, 1838. — Seidlitz, Gesammelie Studien zur Kunstgeschichte. 
Eine Festgabe fiir An/on Springer, Leipzig, 1885. — Hisioire de V Art pendatit la 
Reiiaissance, vol. ii. p. 786 et seq. 




STUDIES OF HORSES. 

(Windsor Library. From a photograph given by M. Rouveyre.) 



\ 



EARLY MILANESE PAINTERS 



129 



dei Conti, endowed them with a series of works obviously not their 



To MoreUi, however, belongs the credit of having determined the 
geographical limits of the Milanese School, and I cannot do better 
than reproduce his dictum : " The Adda separates the Bergamasque 
hills from the Milanese 
plain. At Canonica, 
on the frontier of the 
province of Bergamo, 
one still hears the gut- 
tural language of the 
Bergamasques ; at Vaprio, 
at the opposite end of 
the bridge across the 
Adda, the Milanese dia- 
lect predominates, and 
the school which rose 
in Milan, the Lombardo- 
Milanese school, extended 
as far as Vaprio." ^ 

That a Milanese 
school existed before 
Leonardo's arrival, no 
honest investigator will 
attempt to deny. It suf- 
fices to mention the 
names of Michelino, of 
Besozzo, from whom Leo- 
nardo borrowed the idea 

of an extravagant composition — a male and female peasant con- 
vulsed with laughter — of Vincenzo Foppa (settled in Milan as early 
as 1455), of Bernardo Zenale, of Buttinone, and of Ambrogio 




STUDIES OF HORSES. 



(Library of the Institut de France ; from M. Ravaisson-Mollien's 
Leonardo da Vinci.) 



1 Kunstkritische Studicn ilber italienische Malerei. Die Gahrien Borghese und Doria 
Pamfili hi Rom. Die Galerien zu Mimchen und Dresden. Die Galerie zu Berlin. 
Leipzig, 3 vols. 1 890-1 893. 

2 Die Qalerie zu Berlin, p. 121, 

S 



130 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

Borgognone, all at the height ot their activity when the young 
Florentine came to settle among them.^ 

This school, influenced in turn by Mantegna and the Venetians, 
borrowed from the former its taste for foreshortening, and for effects 
of perspective. (This is evident in the works of Foppa, for instance, 
of Bramante, who, we must not forget, was painter as well as archi- 
tect, and of Montorfano.) It also adopted Mantegnesque types of 
physiognomy — the broad face and prominent jaw. The Venetians, 
for their part, had revealed the delights and subtleties of colour to 
a few Milanese painters, such as Andrea Solario, in tones alternately 
rich and brilliant, luminous and profound. But these Milanese 
precursors sought harmony rather than splendour in their schemes of 
colour : they delighted in amber tones, inclining sometimes to gray. 
Their works are consequently more or less subdued, but they never 
lack a sovereign distinction. Nothing could be more opposed to the 
comparatively dry and precise manner of the Florentines. 

We are ignorant of the dates both of birth and death (1523, 
1524?), of Ambrogio da Fossano, surnamed "II Bergognone," or 
" Borgognone." We must be content to note that towards the end of 
the century this eminent master decorated the Certosa at Pavia with 
pictures and frescoes, in which are apparent now a striving after the 
precision so characteristic of primitive schools, now an incomparable 
suavity, as in his young saints standing beside S. Ambrose and S. 
Syrus (1492). Later on, towards 1517,^ he executed his great fresco, 
The Coronation of the Virgin, in the church of S. Simpliciano at 
Milan. This wonderfully animated work abounds in lyric passages 
and prepossessing faces. I will note especially, amongst others, the 
Christ, and several youthful saints with short blonde beards. Inspired 
by Gothic models, these figures, in their turn, served as prototypes 

^ The Mantegnesque influence alternates with the Leonardesque in the miniatures of 
the fascinating Book of Hours of Bona Sforza, widow of Galeazzo Maria. (Warner : 
Miniatures and Borders fro7n the Book of Hours of Bona Sforza^ Duchess of Milan, in the 
British Museum. London, 1894. — Venturi, V Arte, 1898.) 

2 Perate, La Grande Encyclopedie. — Beltrami, Archivio storico delV Arte, 1893 
fasc. I. — Gustave Gruyer, Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1893, i. — Dr. Bode attributes to 
Leonardo's influence the progress achieved by Borgognone in chiaroscuro, perhaps, too, 
the increased assurance of his design and his modelling {Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1889, 
vol. i. p. 426). 



EARLY MILANESE PAINTERS 131 

to Bernardino Luini, who, in truth, owes as much to Borgognone as to 
Leonardo. The whole is full of sweetness, but a little tame and 
woolly ; it seems a faint echo from Umbria. 

Less fortunate than Borgognone, Bernardo Zenale of Treviglio 
(born 1436, died 1526), architect and painter, has been deprived, for 
the moment, of any work with the slightest pretensions to authenticity. 
We do not even know which part is his and which that of his collabor- 
ator, Bernardino Buttinone, in the altarpiece of the church of Treviglio 
(1485). It would be futile, therefore, to discuss the pictures which 
figure under the name of Zenale in various galleries. Suffice it to 
remember that, on Vasari's testimony, this artist enjoyed the esteem 
of da Vinci, although his manner was harsh and somewhat dry.^ 

This primitive Milanese school developed side by side with 
Da Vinci, and some of its representatives wholly escaped the spell 
of that great magician. Among these was the designer (Barto- 
lommeo Suardi, it is supposed) of the tapestries, representing The 
Months, executed at Vigevano between 1503 and 1507 for Marshal 
Trivulzio.^ There is not the faintest reminiscence of Leonardo in 
these crowded compositions, the types in which are rough and 
repellent. 

Another Milanese, Giovanni Ambrogio Preda, or de Predis, has 
more affinity with Leonardo. This artist makes his first appearance in 
1482 (he then bore the title of court painter to Lodovico Sforza). In 
1494 Maximilian commissioned him, with two collaborators, to engrave 
(at Milan ?) the dies for the new imperial coinage. In 1498, Preda and 
his brother Bernardino undertook to furnish the German sovereign 
with a wall-hanging (not a tapestry as has been supposed) consisting 
of six pieces in black embroidered velvet, the cartoons to be designed 
by Ambrogio,^ 

We are now familiar with a respectable number of portraits from 
Ambrogio Preda's brush : those of the young Archinto in the Fuller- 

^ The author of the Catalogue of Pictures by Masters of the Milanese and allied 
Schools of Lombardy (BurUngton Fine Arts Club, 1898), endeavours to compile a list 
of Zenale's pictures, ascribing to him, among other things, the Circumcision, in the Louvre, 
dated 1491, and attributed to Bramantino. 

2 See my Histoire de la Tapisserie en Italic, p. 45. 

^ Motta : Archivio storico loinbardo, 1893, p. 972-996. 

S 2 



[32 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



Maitland collection In London ^ (1494), of the Emperor Maximilian 
(1502) in the Vienna Gallery, of the Empress Bianca Maria Sforza 
in the Arconati-Visconti collection in Paris,^ &c. These portraits are 
noticeable for a smooth, occasionally dry execution akin to that of 
the miniaturist, according to Dr. Bode. Towards the close of his life 
Morelli attempted to rob Leonardo of the charming portrait of a 




PORTRAIT OF GAIN GALEAZZO SFORZA, BY V. FOPPA. 

(Wallace Museum, London.) 



young woman in the Ambrosiana in favour of this conscientious, but 
uninspired master ! 

Sensibly inferior to Ambrogio is his contemporary, Bernardino 
del Conti, who worked, approximately, from 1499 to 1522. He 
has been credited, among other things, with The Family of 

1 Lately acquired for the National Gallery. — Ed. 

2 A pen and ink sketch after these two portraits, by the goldsmith and medallist, 
Gian Marco Cavalli, is in the Accademia at Venice, where it long figured under the name 
of Leonardo da Vinci. See Herr v. Schneider's article in the Jahrbuch der kais. 
Kunstsammhingen, 1893, p. 187 et seq. See also Dr. Bode's article in \h& Jahrbuch der 
kg. Pr. Kunstsamvihmgen, 1889, ii-> and that by Miss Ffoulkes in the Archivio storico 
deir Arte, 1894, p. 250. 



EARLY MILANESE PAINTERS 



133 



Lodovico il Moro in the Brera, formerly attributed to Zenale, and 
the Madonna Litta in the Hermitage, hitherto dignified by the 
glorious name of Leonardo da Vinci. To be frank, this painter was, 
to use Dr. Bode's happy definition, one of the greatest nonentities 
among the Lombards of his time, and as such he reveals himself in his 
few authentic works : the portrait of a cardinal, in the Berlin Gallery 
(1499), the portrait of a 
man in profile in the 
Vittadini collection at 
Milan (1500), that of the 
young Catellano Trivul- 
zio, in the Pallavicini- 
Trivulzio collection at 
Turin (1505), &c. All 
these figures are distin- 
guished by a dry pre- 
cision, proper rather to 
the burin than the brush. 
Consequently, if the sym- 
pathetic portrait of a 
Milanese lady, in profile, 
in the Morrison collec- 
tion really belongs to 
Conti, he must at one 
time have adopted a freer 
manner and a richer im- 
pasto. 

It has often been 
maintained that the 

change in Leonardo's style in his new place of abode was due to 
the influence of the school he found there. " A Florentine when 
he arrived in Milan," writes the learned and brilliant Marchese 
d'Adda, " Leonardo left it a Milanese." And further on he adds : 
" An art, peculiar to and savouring of its native soil, sprang up 
in Lombardy from the union of Tuscan and Paduan traditions. 
Mantegna had Milanese disciples who took back with them the 




STUDY OF A HORSEMAN. 

(Windsor Library.) 



134 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

traditions of Squarcione. The works of the elder Foppa, Leonardo 
da Besozzo, Buttinone, Civerchio, Troso da Monza, and Zenale da 
Treviglio, are proof enough that a veritable and even highly-developed 
art existed in Milan long before the arrival of Leonardo."^ 

But was the change in Leonardo as distinctly marked as they would 
have us believe, and moreover, did the example of the Lombard artists 
count for so much in it as is asserted ? I do not hesitate, for my part, 
to answer, no, and for these reasons : the works executed at the begin- 
ning of his sojourn in Milan, the Vh^gin of the Rocks, for instance, 
prove that the youthful Leonardo was already gifted with elegance, 
sweetness, and grace in a greater degree than any master who had 
preceded him. On the other hand, no genius was ever more recalci- 
trant to the teaching and suggestions of others than his ; the imitative 
faculty was wholly wanting in him. And, after all, what were these 
Lombard masters whom we are to look upon as the teachers of the 
Florentine Proteus ? Some were content to paint sober and impassive 
figures in various tones of gray ; others followed more or less faithfully 
the traditions of the school of Padua, which means that they were 
devoted to principles in every way opposed to those of Leonardo 
(even in Bramante's pictures, as we have said above, the influence of 
Mantegna is apparent in the hardness of the outline, and the excessive 
preoccupation with perspective). ^ Leonardo's manner, on the contrary, 
rests on the suppression of all that is angular and precise ; his 
painting is above all things fused, melting, enveloppi \ the outlines of 
his figures lose themselves in intensity of light, in harmony of colour. 
Again, the Milanese primitives assiduously cultivated fresco, whereas 
Leonardo, unfortunately for himself, and for us, persistently avoided 
that process during his sojurn in Milan, and also after his return to 

^ Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1868, vol. ii, p. 128. Impartiality further forces me to quote 
M. de Tauzia's opinion. The former keeper of the pictures in the Louvre asserts that 
" Leonardo borrowed his types from the Milanese masters who preceded him. One is 
easily convinced of this, he adds, by the Book of Hours of Bianca Maria Visconti, produced 
in 1460, long before Leonardo came to Milan ; it looks like the work of one of his pupils." 
{Catalogue, p. 225). 

2 If it were certain that the engravings of the Two Beggars and the Heads of Old 
Men, attributed to Mantegna, were really by that master, then Leonardo might be said 
to have sought inspiration from him sometimes. But everything tends to prove that here 
we are working in a vicious circle, and that the engravings are to be referred rather to 
Leonardo himself than to Mantegna. 



EARLY MILANESE PAINTERS 135 

Florence. He painted the Last Shipper in oil, and prepared to paint 
the Battle of Anghiari in encaustic. 

A last and still more convincing argument is furnished by the fresco 
in the Refectory of S. Maria delle Grazie, opposite to Leonardo's Last 
Supper, the Cintcifixion, by Giovanni Donato Montorfano (1495). 
Here we find no affinity with Leonardo ; on the other hand, remin- 
iscences of Mantegna abound in the hard dry modelling, the angular 
contours, the crumpled draperies. Both conception and execution are, 
moreover, of the poorest. The founder of the new school of Milan 
loved to simplify ; his compeer, the representative of the old school, 
subdivided and complicated his work as much as he could ; the 
principal action disappears in episodes ; more than fifty persons, 
of whom several, such as S. Dominic and S. Clara, are quite alien 
to the subject, dispute our attention. And how feeble are the heads, 
how flaccid the gestures and the attitudes of the swooning Virgin, the 
saint wringing his hands ! how stiff are the horses, what a lack of 
intention and harmony we note in the colour, which is more like that 
of a missal than of a monumental fresco ! Sacred iconography, singularly 
neglected by Leonardo, holds an important place in Montorfano's 
work. Over the penitent thief, the parting soul, in obedience to the 
tradition of the middle ages, is represented in the form of a child. 
A movable nimbus, a sort of flattened disc, encircles the head of the 
Virgin, and those of her companions, the confessors and the doctors 
of the Church. By an anachronism frequent enough in religious 
art (we need only mention Fra Angelico's Crucifixion in the 
Monastery of San Marco), these latter assist at the drama of 
Golgotha. Certain of the types, the attitudes, the effects of per- 
spective, the careful exactitude in the archaeological details, recall 
Mantegna, as I have said. It is, however, impossible to confound 
Montorfano's work with that of any member of the School of Padua : 
the types have a strongly accentuated Milanese character, with their 
somewhat square-jawed faces, and long waving hair (S. John the 
Evangelist). A horseman on the right suggests Luini by his bold 
and gallant bearing. 

Montorfano's work would not have aroused enthusiasm anywhere, 
but it was, indeed, a disaster for it to be placed opposite to that of 



z(> 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



Leonardo ; and yet, like certain vulgar natures, it enjoys rude health 
where the man of genius languishes and dies. The Last Supper is 
a ruin ; the Crucifixion has preserved all its original brilliance of colour.^ 
I am far from denying that on the whole, his sojourn in Lombardy 
exercised a profound effect upon Leonardo's style ; but, in the change, 
nature counted for much, art for little, if for anything at all. Compared 
with the Tuscan landscape, that of Upper Italy, and particularly that 



IPC 







AN ALLKGORY OF ENVY. 

(Library of Christ Church College, Oxford.) 



of the province of Milan, is as exuberant as the other is proud and 
graceful ; the country is clothed with an abundant vegetation, and 
intersected by innumerable water-courses ; mulberries with shining 
leaves replace the dull grayness of the olive ; the air is soft ; the 
scenery of the lakes delicious ; in short, our impressions are those of a 

^ De Geymiiller is inclined to believe that Bramante furnished Montorfano with 
the sketch for the view of Jerusalem in the background of the Cmcifixion {Les projets 
primitifs pour la basilique de Sahit-Pierre de Rome, p. 48). 



THE MILANESE TYPE 



137 



more temperate zone, and of a kinder sky. As the climate is, so are 
the inhabitants : to the Florentine type, thin, meagre, and poor, the 
duchy of Milan opposes amplitude, grace, suavity, purer lines, and a 
more delicate complexion, creamy rather than sallow ; refined or 
voluptuous lips, large and melting eyes, full round chins, and slender, 
undulating figures. This type, which has been christened Leonard- 
esque, because Leonardo 
recorded its perfection, 
is still to be met in all 
its beauty about the 
Lago Maggiore and the 
Lake of Como. 

The intellectual dif- 
ferences between the 
Milanese and the Flor- 
entines did not weigh 
less heavily in the 
balance. At Milan, 
Leonardo found a public 
unaccustomed to criticise 
and prone to enthu- 
siasm : qualities most 
precious to a man of 
imagination, to an artist 
with whom freshness of 
impression and indepen- 
dence of form meant so 
much. 

Subjected to the demands of the Florentine studios, Art, on the 
banks of the Arno, had fallen into affectation or extravagance (on this 
subject see p. 20). The one idea of the Tuscans was to astonish by 
subtlety of contrivance or boldness of design : beauty pure and simple 
seemed to them commonplace. Mannerism triumphed all along the 
line : with Botticelli, with Filippino Lippi, with Pollajuolo. Each 
outvied the other in torturing his style, in showing himself more com- 
plex and more inventive than his neighbour. The artistic coteries 

T 




(Windsor Library.) 



1 



r3§ LEONARDO DA VINCI 

of Florence devoted themselves to artificial research, and were 
governed by conventional formulae ; dexterity took the place of convic- 
tion, and everything was reduced to calculation, or to merely technical 
skill ; in short, no one could be simple or natural, and so eloquence, in 
the best sense, was a lost quality. 

At Milan, on the other hand, imaginations were still fertile and 
fresh ; if there was less science, there was more sincerity. What 
life and youth breathe from the sculptures of the Pavlan Certosa, in 
itself a world ! A superior genius was bound, not only to animate and 
fertilise such germs, but to refresh his own spirit, in this new and 
invigorating atmosphere. In fact, the unresting mental activity 
peculiar to the Florentine, his conscious and deliberate effort, generated 
naturally a race of draughtsmen, while the soft languor, the native 
grace, the exquisite suavity inherent in the Milanese, as inevitably 
created colourists. There Is a moment in the lives of certain pre- 
destined spirits when expatriation becomes a necessity. Raphael, had 
he remained in Umbria, would never have been more than a greater 
Perugino ; Michelangelo, too, obtained his suprem.e impetus from 
Rome. As to Leonardo, it was by the resources of a considerable 
state, the brilliant festivals, the intercourse with intellectual and dis- 
tinguished men, and, above all, by an atmosphere less bourgeois and 
democratic than that of Florence, that the sudden and unprecedented 
evolution of his genius was brought about. At Florence he would 
have become the first of painters ; at Milan, he became that and 
something more ; a great poet and a great thinker. From this point 
of view we have every right to say that he owed much to his new 
country. 

In the literary circle of Milan, admittedly mediocre as it was, a 
playful freedom obtained quite unknown among the Florentine purists. 
As a typical product of the prevailing spirit, we may take the tourna- 
ment, or encounter of wits, that took place between Bellincioni, 
Maccagni of Turin, and Gasparo Visconti, on the one hand, and 
Bramante on the other. One of the epigrams aimed at the architect- 
poet compares him to Cerberus, because of his biting humour. 

Quis canis ? Erigones ? Minime ! Cerberus ille 
Tenareus, famse nominibusque inocens. 



LITERARY CIRCLE OF MILAN 139 

Elsewhere his opponents, in reality his closest friends, attack him for 
his immoderate love of pears, or for his avarice : " Bramante," writes 
Visconti, " you are a man devoid of courtesy, you never cease 
importuning me for a pair of shoes, and all the time you are laying up 
a hoard of money for yourself. It seems to you a slight thing to force 
me to keep you. Why do you not get the Court to pay for you ? 
You have a salary of five ducats a month [from the Duke]." To which 
Bramante replies by a sonnet in which he piteously describes the 
dilapidations of his wardrobe. He begs Visconti to bestow a crown 
on him in charity, if he would not see him condemned to struggle 
naked with Boreas. 

Vesconte, non te casche 
Questo da core, ma fa ch'io n'habia un scudo 
Tal ch'io non giostro piii con Borrea ignudo. 

E se poi per te sudo 
El mio sudor verra dela tue pelle 
Ma non scoter pero pero (sic) la sete a quelle.^ 

There was no pedantry, at any rate, in Lodovico's circle. Though his 
finances were often embarrassed, and his aesthetics selfish and subtle, 
he loved art, and placed the worship of the beautiful above all 
things. 

Leonardo, as I shall presently show, did not disdain to take 
occasional part in the poetic jousts of this joyous company. The men 
of letters of Upper Italy soon adopted him as one of themselves; he 
was as proud of their glory as if he had been born in their midst. In 
his lifetime they vied with one another in lauding his masterpieces. 
After his death the historians, romance-writers and philosophers of his 
adopted country were his most ardent apologists. I may mention 
Paolo Giovio, Bishop of Como, INTatteo Bandello, the author of the 
Novelle, and Lomazzo, the painter and writer, author of the Trattato 
della Pittura and of the Idea del Tempio della Pittura. 

To sum up : if, with the exception of Bramante, Milan possessed 
no artist capable of measuring himself with Leonardo, and, still less, 
any capable of influencing him, on the other hand, no surroundings 
could have been more propitious to his genius than those she offered. 
A splendour-loving and enlightened prince, an active, wealthy, and 
1 Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1879, ^^^' ^^- P- 5^4 ^^ ^^1- Cf, Beltrami, Bramante poeta. 



I40 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

educated population, a phalanx of capable artists who asked for 
nothing better than to follow the lead of a master-mind from 
that Florence whence light has been shed for so long over 
Italy ; finally, the vigorous and inspiring suggestions of a land- 
scape at once exuberant and grandiose ; can we imagine elements 
better fitted than these to stimulate the genius of Leonardo, and 
to kindle in his breast a love for the country he was now to make 
his own ? 





FRIEZE BY CARADOSSO. 

Church of San Satiro, Milan.) 



CHAPTER V 



LEONARDO S DEBUT AT THE COURT OF MILAN — HIS PROGRAMME — THE EQUES- 
TRIAN STATUE OF FRANCESCO SFORZA— LEONARDO AS A SCULPTOR HIS INFLUENCE 

ON THE SCULPTURE OF NORTHERN ITALY 




w 



EN Leonardo resolved to try 

his fortunes at the court of 

the Sforzi, he was already 

known there by the famous shield 

acquired by Duke Galeazzo Maria ( + 

1476). 

We possess a remarkable document 
in the master's own hand ^ which bears 
upon his opening relations with the 
Milanese capital, namely, the letter in 
which he offers his services to Lodovico 
il Moro, at that time regent of the 
duchy for his nephew Gian Galeazzo. 
This epistle can hardly be called a 
monument of diffidence, as the reader will presently have an oppor- 

1 This manuscript, preserved in the Ambrosiana, is written irom left to right, and not, 
hke the rest of Leonardo's manuscripts, from right to left. M. Charles Ravaisson-Mollien 
has pronounced against its authenticity (Zes Ecrits de Leonard de Vinci, p. 34). — 
Richter {The literary Works of Leonardo da Viftci, vol. ii. pp. 34, 395 — 398) and Uzielli 
{JRicerche, 2nd ed. vol. i. p. 85 — 89), on the other hand, consider it to be a genuine 
production of Leonardo's. This is also my opinion. 



STUDY FOR THE ADORATION OF 
THE MAGI." 

(Valton Collection, Paris.) 



142 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

tunity of judging ; in it the painter, the sculptor, the architect, the 
military and hydraulic engineer, come forward and make their boast 
in turn. 

" Having, most illustrious lord, seen and duly considered the 
experiments of all those who repute themselves masters in the art of 
inventing instruments of war, and having found that their instruments 
differ in no way from such as are in common use, I will endeavour, 
without wishing to injure any one else, to make known to your 
Excellency certain secrets of my own ; as briefly enumerated here 
below : — 

"I. I have a way of constructing very light bridges, most easy to 
carry, by which the enqmy may be pursued and put to flight. Others 
also of a stronger kind, that resist fire or assault, and are easy to place 
and remove. I know ways also for burning and destroying those of 
the enemy. 

"2. In case of investing a place I know how to remove the water 
from ditches and to make various scaling ladders and other such 
instruments. 

" 3. Item : If, on account of the height or strength of position, the 
place cannot be bombarded, I have a way for ruining every fortress 
which is not on stone foundations. 

" 4. I can also make a kind of cannon, easy and convenient to 
transport, that will discharge inflammable matters, causing great injury 
to the enemy and also great terror from the smoke. 

" 5. Item : By means of winding and narrow underground passages, 
made without noise, I can contrive a way for passing under ditches or 
any stream. 

" 9. [sic) And, if the fight should be at sea, I have numerous 
engines of the utmost activity both for attack and defence ; vessels that 
will resist the heaviest fire — also powders or vapours. 

" 6. Item : I can construct covered carts, secure and indestructible, 
bearing artillery, which, entering among the enemy, will break the 
strongest body of men, and which the infantry can follow without 
impediment. 

" 7. I can construct cannon, mortars and fire-engines of beautiful 
and useful shape, and different from those in common use. 



LEONARDO'S LETTER TO LODOVICO 143 

" 8. Where the use of cannon is impracticable, I can replace them 
by catapults, mangonels and engines for discharging missiles of ad- 
mirable efficacy and hitherto unknown — in short, according as the case 
may be, I can contrive endless means of offence. 

"10. In time of peace, I believe I can equal any one in architecture 
and in constructing buildings, public or private, and in conducting 
water from one place to another. ^ 

" Then I can execute sculpture, whether in marble, bronze, or 
terra-cotta ; also in painting I can do as much as any other, be he who 
he may. 

" Further, I could engage to execute the bronze horse in lasting 
memory of your father and of the illustrious house of Sforza, and, if 
any of the above-mentioned things should appear impossible and im- 
practicable to you, I offer to make trial of them in your park, or in any 
other place that may please your Excellency, to whom I commend 
myself in utmost humility." 

The artist, we know, performed even more than he promised, 
but did the military engineer carry out this amazing programme ? 
That is a question which I shall endeavour to answer in due 
course. 

In all probability, Leonardo set to work immediately after 
his arrival in Milan upon the equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza, 
an undertaking which occupied him, at intervals, for seventeen years. 

Rumours of the discussions which had been going on for ten years 
as to the choice of a suitable design must, of course, have reached 
Leonardo, and in the memorial addressed to Lodovico, he declares 
himself ready — as we have seen — to undertake the execution of the 
" cavallo," otherwise the equestrian statue.^ 

^ It is interesting to note here, that by a decree of May 16, 1483, Lodovico ordered 
the construction of a canal between the Adda and Milan. 

2 The history of this equestrian statue has been traced, though with too evident a bias, 
by M. Louis Courajod in \\\% Leonard de Vinci et la Statue de Fra?i^ois Sforza (1879), by 
M. Bonnaffe in his Sabba da Castiglione (1884, p. 12 — 14) and more recently by Herr 
Miiller-Walde in the Jahrbuch der kg. Kunstsammlimgen (1897, p. 92 — 169). The 
German author claims to have discovered a clue, enabling him to distinguish between 
the drawings which refer to the Sforza statue, and those for the statue of Trivulzio. 
Unfortunately, the results of Herr Miiller-Walde's labours had not yet been given to the 
public when the present volume went to press. 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



Had Leonardo remained in Florence, he might very easily have 
painted a Last Supper equal to that of Santa Maria delle Grazie for 
some monastery of his native city, but he most certainly would never 
have been commissioned to execute a piece of sculpture such as the 
equestrian statue of Duke Francesco, as conspicuous in dimen- 
sions as for the idea of supremacy and sway it was calculated to 
impress on the beholder. The doctrine of equality, so jealously 

insisted upon by the 
Florentine populace, had 
long relegated sculpture 
to the sphere of religion ; 
the utmost that the Re- 
public had done in any 
other spirit being to 
accord the honour of 
monumental tombs to 
her chancellors, Leo- 
nardo Bruni and Carlo 
Marsuppini. But to have 
set up in a public place 
the statue of a condot- 
tiere, and, worse still, of 
one whose family still 
claimed sovereignty, 
would have raised a 
storm of indignation 
among the keenly sus- 
ceptible citizens. As well 
propose that they should 
return to the worship of graven images! Hence any Florentine 
sculptor who wished to execute monumental statues was forced 
to seek such commissions elsewhere than at home : Donatello at 
Padua (the equestrian statue of Gattamelata) ; Baroncelli at 
Ferrara (the equestrian statue of Niccolo d'Este), Verrocchio, at 
Venice (the equestrian statue of Colleone), and lastly, Leonardo 
at Milan. 




■RIAN ilAS-KKLllK Dl- ANMI'.ALE UENTIVOCLIO 
BY NICCOLO DELI,' ARCA. 

(Church of San Giacomo Maggiore, Bologna.) 



Sfiidies of Horses. 




Printed by Draeger, P; 



THE STATUE OF FRANCESCO SFORZA 



145 




Duke Francesco Sforza died in 1466, but it was not till 1472 that 
his successor, Galeazzo Maria, conceived the project of giving the 
founder of the House of Sforza a monument worthy of him, a tomb 
which, like that of the Scaligeri at Verona, should be surmounted by 
an equestrian statue of the deceased hero. For ten long years artist 
after artist was consulted, plan after plan submitted and rejected. On 
the refusal or the re- 
tirement from the contest 
of the brothers Mante- 
gazza, the gifted sculp- 
tors of the Certosa at 
Pavia, Galeazzo Maria 
applied to the famous 
Florentine sculptor and 
painter, Antonio del Pol- 
lajuolo. After his death 
in 1498 " they found the 
design and the model 
which he had made for 
the equestrian statue of 
F rancesco S forza, 
ordered by Lodovico il 
Moro. This model is 
represented in two differ- 
ent styles in his drawings 
now in my collection : 
the one showing Duke 
Francesco with Verona 
under his feet, the other, 
the same Duke in full 

armour riding over an armed man. I could never discover why 
this design was not carried out" (Vasari). It is this second con- 
ception which Morelli recognised in a drawing in the Print Room 
at Munich, whereas Louis Courajod declared it to be the sketch 
for Leonardo's statue. Not, adds the learned Director of the 
Louvre, that there is anything against the supposition that Pollajuolo 




EQUESTRIAN BAS-RELIEF BY LEONARDO DA PRATO (iSIl). 

(Church of SS. Giovanni e Paolo, Venice.) 



146 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

may have seen and drawn Leonardo's model. Richter, again, 
suggests that this design — a horse rearing above a prostrate man 
— was obligatory for all the competitors. For my part, I must say, 
that if the drawing at Munich represents Leonardo's work, it is a 
singularly clumsy and ineffective rendering. Nothing could be more 
wooden and lifeless than the hind-quarters of the horse, and the 
forelegs, which are very evidently ankylosed, are equally faulty in 
treatment. The head and neck alone have a certain amount of 
spirit. As to the rider, his seat is awkward and undignified in the 
extreme, and the ensemble is wholly wanting in those monumental, 
rhythmic, one might almost say melodious lines, which were so 
obviously Leonardo's main preoccupation in the drawings at Windsor.^ 

The study of the horse was a passion with Leonardo ; numberless 
drawings show him seeking to fix the noble beast's physiognomy, and 
analyse its movements. ^ 

In the Adoration of the Magi, he forgets the ostensible subject, 
and fills up the whole of the middle distance with horses in every con- 
ceivable variety of spirited attitude. In the subsequent Battle of 
Anghiari he returned to his favourite theme, and created the most 

1 Miiller-Walde is of opinion that PoUajuolo's drawing was made in 1489 — immediately 
after the letter to Lorenzo the Magnificent, complaining of Leonardo's incompetence 
{Jahrbuch der kg. Kunstsammlungen, 1897, p. 125). But one must beware of these 
all too convenient inferences. Things rarely happen just as we imagine — realities prove 
more shifting, less logical. M. de Fabriczy believes the drawing in question to refer 
to an equestrian statue which PoUajuolo offered to erect to Gentile Virginio Orsini in 
1494 {Repertorimn fiir Kunstwissenschaft, 1892, p. 250). M. de Geymiiller goes still 
further — he does not consider the Munich drawing to be worthy even of PoUajuolo 
{^Les derniers Travaux sur Leonard de Vinci, p. 42). 

A picture by Bacchiacca in the Uffizi (reproduced in my Histoire de f Art pendant la 
Renaissance, vol. iii. p. 697) shows striking analogies with the Munich drawing, except 
that the horse's head, instead of being in profile as in the drawing, is turned toward 
the spectator, a detail which gives a singular look of animation to the composition. 
Bacchiacca's horse, too, rears firmly up on its hind legs, instead of seeming to sink 
under its burden, and the rider is not bare-headed, but wears a cap. This rearing 
horse — a reminiscence of the Colossi of Monte Cavallo — is a very favourite motive in 
sixteenth century art : we meet with it in Raphael's St. George of the Louvre, in his 
Meeti?ig between S. Leo and Attila, and The Victory of Constantitie : also in Ducerceau's 
chimney pieces at Ecouen, etc. 

2 In his first attempt, Leonardo seems to have given his horses squat, disjointed 
forms — witness the studies of horses and cats in the Library at Windsor. This, too, is 
his type in a drawing of the Deluge (Richter, vol. i. pi. xxxiv). But what movement, 
what fire, what passion he puts into his heroic steeds later on ! 



THE STATUE OF FRANCESCO SFORZA 147 

stirring cavalry combat that art has handed down to us. The fire, 
the vehemence of the master defy description whenever he throws 
himself into the delineation of this grand creature, the noblest of man's 
conquests in the animal world. In every line one recognises the 
enthusiastic horseman delighting to urge his mount to its utmost speed, 
or to make it bound and rear. The rebellion of the wonderful living 
machine only excited and intoxicated him. To him we owe the proto- 
type of the war-horse, of the epic charger, as it has come down to 
us through Raphael, Salvator Rosa, Rubens, and Le Brun. Even 
Velasquez shows its influence. The advent of the English horse, 
wiry and long-barreled, put an end to an ideal type essentially suited 
to historical painting. 

Obedient to his habits as a man of science, Leonardo, before 
taking the trowel in hand, set himself to collect all available in- 
formation on the horse in general, and equestrian statues in particular. 
Although he was thoroughly at home in every branch of the noble art 
of horsemanship, he seems to have attacked the subject " ab ovo," and 
weeks, months, even years passed, in experiments on the anatomy and 
locomotion of horses. Nor was he less interested in the study of 
equestrian statues — the bibliography of the subject, so to speak — the 
principal models which he consulted being the horses on the Monte 
Cavallo and the mounted statue of Marcus Aurelius at Rome, the 
four horses at Venice ^ and, finally, Donatello's equestrian statue of 
Gattamelata at Padua. Verrocchio's work in connection with the 
Colleone statue for Venice could have afforded him but little 
assistance, for though it was begun in 1479, four years before the 
statue of Francesco Sforza, it was still unfinished in 1488, the year 
of Verrocchio's death. ^ 

Nevertheless, all that we know concerning Leonardo's habit of 
mind justifies us in affirming that his study of pre-existing models did 
not go very deep. He who had declared that " to copy another artist 

1 A horse in the style of those at Venice, which may also be compared with a drawing 
attributed to Verrocchio in the Louvre, was engraved by Zoan Andrea (see Ottley, p. 566). 
— Three horses' heads in Leonardo's style were also engraved by him (Bartsch, 24, pi. v. 
p. 106). 

2 Richter claims to discover a reminiscence of Verrocchio's work in a drawing at 
Windsor (pi. Ixxiv.) — See also Courajod, p. 32. 

U 2 



.48 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



instead of copying nature" was to make one's self "not the son, but the 
grandson of nature," in other words, the echo of an echo, would 
not be likely to examine the works of his predecessors with a very 
attentive eye ; in point of fact, no artist was ever less of an imitator 
than Leonardo. It was from living models — those fiery steeds which 
none knew better than he how to manage — and from them alone, that 
he drew his inspiration (Richter, vol. ii, pi. Ixxiii.). We cannot but 

feel that even when he 
did study the statue of 
Marcus Aurelius ^ or of 
Gattamelata (Richter, pi. 
Ixxii., no. 3), he did so 
only from a conscientious 
feeling, without convic- 
tion and without enthu- 
siasm. His copies of 
these works are vague 
and uncertain to a de- 
gree. And this being so, 
we are not surprised to 
find him ignoring more 
archaic creations, such 
as Niccolo dell' Area's 
equestrian bas-relief at 




\XESCO SFORZA. 



STUDIES FOR THF. EQUESTRIAN STATUE OF 

(Windsor Library, reproduced from Dr. Richter's book.) 



Bologna. 
There 
however, 



a ponit, 
which — 



perhaps unconsciously to 
himself- — he comes under the influence of the antique. The heads 
of his horses, with their dilated nostrils, recall the classic type, 
rather than the calmer and more prosaic breed of Tuscany and 
Lombardy. 

Leonardo hesitated long even over the general outline of the monu- 
ment. The drawings at Windsor ^ show how hard he found it to decide 

^ He makes a note in his memoranda of Messire Galeazzo's great jennet and Messire 
Galeazzo's Sicilian horse (Richter, vol. ii. p. 14). - Richter (vol. ii. p. Ixv., Ixvi.) 



THE STATUE OF FRANCESCO SFORZA 



149 



between a circular and a square base. The first design shows some 
affinity with the mausoleum of Hadrian (the fortress of S. Angelo at 
Rome) and is surmounted — not very appropriately, it must be 




EQUESTRIAN STATUE OF GATTAMELATA, BY DONATELLO, AT PADUA. 



acknowledged — by an equestrian statue. But immediately afterwards, 
on the same sheet of paper (which shows that these various sketches 
must belong to the earliest of his experiments),^ comes a sketch 

1 One of the drawings at Windsor (no. 84) in which the horse rears above a fallen 
warrior who tries to defend himself, was certainly among the first attempts. This is 
evident in the want of breadth of the horse's body and in the insignificant treatment 
of the base. 

The course of these fluctuating conceptions has been vividly brought before us by 



ISO LEONARDO DA VINCI 

in which he places on the entablature of the base, now ornamented 
with pillars and pediments — seated figures, captives, in bold and 
vigorous relief (an arrangement adopted later by Michelangelo, and 
thenceforth a very favourite one during the Renaissance). Above 
this rises the equestrian statue. 

I think I may say without disparagement to the memory of the 
great artist that more than any of his contemporaries, Leonardo kicked 
against the restraints of architecture, the necessity, for instance, of 
blending figures with their surroundings in order to produce a 
decorative effect. In all sketches for the monument his embarrassment 
is patent as soon as he attempts to bring the statue into harmony 
with the base. But let him draw the horse by itself, or merely with 
its rider, and whether he depicts the animal as rearing above a fallen 
warrior (Richter, pi. Ixviii., Ixix.), or stepping majestically, its head 
arched over its breast (pi. Ixx.), or proudly raised (pi. Ixxi.), he shows 
an incomparable freedom and assurance. 

The studies for the Sforza monument are, for the most part, vague 
in the extreme ; it would be impossible to reconstruct the final design 
through them. And the reason for this is not far to seek : the 
fundamental idea once fixed in the artist's mind, he no longer works 
with pencil or pen, but with the trowel ; it is not on paper that he 
records his experiments, but in clay.^ Why waste time in drawing on 

Louis Courajod. Let me, for the moment, borrow his eloquent pen. " While by an 
ardent study of the anatomy of the horse — a study which apparently goes far beyond 
the exigencies of sculpture — Leonardo takes every means of ensuring the charm of 
marvellous execution in his work, the entire composition is shaping itself in his mind. 
The picture of a colossal monument rises up before him — a gigantic pedestal grouped 
about with figures, and surmounted by the hero. The statue seems at first to have been 
associated with the idea of a fountain ; the horse, stepping composedly forward, overturns 
with its fore-foot a vase, from which water flows. This ingenious allegory would recall 
the fact that Lombardy had been given a marvellous system of irrigation by its rulers. 
Another symbol is added to complete it — under the uplifted hind-foot of the steed is a 
tortoise, the placid and appropriate denizen of the moist plains about Milan : it still 
swarms in the enclosure of the Certosa of Pavia. Thus conceived, the statue would be 
emblematic of a pacific ruler, a protector of agriculture. Meanwhile, Leonardo hollows in 
the pedestal a niche destined to receive the recumbent statue of the Duke. We know 
that the colossal monument was intended, primarily, for a tomb." 

1 My hypothesis as to the date of these drawings is corroborated by the fact that studies 
of the horse walking and galloping, of a circular and of a rectangular pedestal, are found 
on the same page. Dr. Richter states that among the sketches referring to the casting 
of the statue, six show the horse walking, but only one represents it galloping. 



THE STATUE OF FRANCESCO SFORZA 151 

a flat surface a figure which will eventually be executed in the round ? 
At the most, it serves only to give an idea of the general outline. 

Leonardo was not one to make rapid decisions, and Lodovico il 
Moro had not the fortitude to make a plan and keep strictly to it ; 
doubtless, too, his much-admired artist unsettled his mind anew each 
time they met, by laying some fresh design before him. As we have 
already seen, he made suggestion after suggestion — now the huge 
pedestal was circular, now rectangular, now in the shape of a 
rotunda, now of a triumphal arch ; then again, it was to surmount 
a deep cavity containing the recumbent figure of the deceased Duke, 
and so forth. Finally, Sforza, worn out by these incessant 
discussions, begged Pietro Alemanni, the Florentine ambassador at 
Milan, to ask Lorenzo the Magnificent to send him one or two 
sculptors capable of executing the statue in question. The Duke, adds 
Alemanni, being afraid that Leonardo, who had been commissioned to 
make the model, was hardly equal to the task ! ^ 

This threat to supplant him evidently had the desired effect of 
rousing Leonardo from his apathy, for we have indubitable proof that 
by the following year the work was once more in full swing. Under 
the date of April 23 we find this pregnant entry among his memor- 
anda : " To-day I began this book and re-commenced the ' horse,' (the 
equestrian statue)." 

At last, on November 30, 1493, on the occasion of the marriage 
of Bianca Maria Sforza to the Emperor Maximilian, the model of the 
horse was exhibited to the public under a triumphal arch.^ 

Was this colossal horse modelled in clay, or, like certain earlier 
models, that, for instance, of Jacopo della Quercia's equestrian statue of 

^ M.SxWtx-'SNsiXd.t, Jahrbuch der Kg. Kunsisanunlungen, 1897, p. 155. 

This important document runs as follows : July 22, 1489. " Duke Lodovico 
intends to erect a noble memorial to his father ; he has already charged Leonardo 
da "Vinci to execute a model for it, that is to say, a great bronze horse upon which (will 
be placed) a figure of Duke Francesco in armour. And seeing that his Excellency was 
desirous of having something superlatively good, he charged me to write to you on his 
behalf, begging that you would send him an artist capable of carrying out such a work ; 
for though he has entrusted it to Leonardo da Vinci, the Duke appears to me far from 
satisfied that he is equal to the task." 

'■^ The poets Taccone, Giovanni da Tolentino, Lane. Curzio and a host of others sang 
the praises of Leonardo's masterpiece. For some of their effusions see // Castello di 
Milano, by Beltrami (p. 180 — 182). 



152 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



Giantedesco da Pietramala at Siena, of a mixture of wood, hay, hemp, 
clay and mortar ? An early writer enables us to satisfy our curiosity on 
this question by Informing us that the " typus " (model) was " cretaceus," 
that is, of chalk or plaster.^ 

This was the end of the first act of the drama ; the second opened 

with the necessary pre- 
parations for the casting 
of the statue,'^ Strictly 
speaking, the sculptor 
might now have consi- 
dered his part of the 
business completed ; 
what remained to be 
done was chiefly me- 
chanical. But the divi- 
sion of labour was not 
very clearly defined in 
the fifteenth century, and 
Leonardo was obliged 
to devote much time 
and patience to experi- 
ments In the founder's 
art. The construction 
of the furnaces and the 
moulds, the composition 
of the bronze, the manner 
of heating, the finishing of the cast, the polishing, the chasing — all 
this had to be carefully considered. 

The financial embarrassments of the court of Milan contributed 
quite as much as Leonardo's procrastinating tendencies to the delay In 
the completion of the " Cavallo." In a letter to Lodovico 11 Moro — 

1 De Cardina/aiu, i. p. 50. — Cf. Miiller-Walde, Jahrbuch der kg. Kunstsaininlu7igen, 
1897, p. 105 — 107. 

2 In his work De Divina Froportione (dedicated to Lodovico il Moro, February 9, 
1498), Leonardo's friend Pacioli, tells us that the colossus was to measure twelve braccie 
(about twenty-six feet in height), and to weigh, when cast in bronze, about 200,000 lbs., 
while that designed by the brothers Mantegazza would not have weighed more than 6,000. 




STUDIES OF HORSES. 



(Windsor Library.) 



STATUE OF FRANCESCO SFORZA 



153 



unfortunately without a date — the artist writes, " I say nothing of the 
horse (the equestrian statue) because I know the state of affairs — " 
(literally, the times : the difficulties of the present situation). 

Leonardo himself was the first to feel a doubt as to the completion of 
the monument. In a letter to the wardens of a church at Piacenza, 
who, it seems, had asked his advice as to the choice of a bronze -founder, 
he declares that he alone would be competent to carry out the work 
they propose, but that 
he is overburdened with 
orders. The artist's 
words are too character- 
istic not to be given 
textually : " Believe me, 
there is no man capable 
of it but Leonardo of 
Florence, who is engaged 
upon the bronze horse 
of the Duke Francesco ; 
and he is out of the 
question, for he has 
enough work for all the 
rest of his days, and I 
doubt, seeing how great 
that work is, if he will 
ever finish it."^ 

An anonymous bio- 
grapher confirms Vasari's 

statement that Leonardo intended casting the statue in one piece, ^ but 
this statement is confuted by one of Leonardo's own manuscripts, in 
which he discusses the possibilities of casting 100,000 lbs. of metal, 
and determines that five furnaces would have to be used, reckoning 
2,000 (20,000) or at the most 3,000 (30,000) lbs. to each furnace.^ 
This, of course, settles the question. 

^ Richter, vol. ii. p. 15,400. — Uzielli, 2nd ed. vol. i. p. 179. — MiWler-YJ aide, /a/irl'uc/i 
der kg. Pr. Kmistsammlungen 1897, p. 94 et seq. 

- Milanesi — Documenti inedite, p. 11. Vasari says that on this point Leonardo 
consulted his skilled compatriot, Giuliano da San Gallo, when the latter visited Milan. 

^ Beltrami, IlCodice di Leonardo da Vinci nella Biblioteca del Principe Trivuhio, fol. 47. 

X 




STUDIES OF HORSES. 



(Windsor Library.) 



154 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

Leonardo's masterpiece came to a^ miserable end. Sabba di 
Castiglione's story of the statue being knocked to pieces by the Gascon 
crossbowmen of Louis XIL has perhaps been taken too literally. ^ 

That this ruthless destruction did not occur during Louis's first 
occupation of Milan in 1499, is evident from the fact that in 1501 
the Duke of Ferrara was anxious to obtain possession of the model 
executed by Leonardo.^ Still, we have no reason to doubt that foreign 
soldiers had a hand in this deplorable piece of vandalism, though there 
is probably much justice in M. Bonnaffe's presumption that "a statue of 
perishable material, of such dimensions and in such an attitude, exposed 
to all the vicissitudes of the weather, soon perishes when it once begins 
to deteriorate." Already much damaged in 1501, Leonardo's monu- 
ment was inevitably doomed. Some drunken soldiers, perhaps, made 
a target of the half ruined colossus, and so completed its destruction ; 
whether they were French, German, Spanish, Swiss or native Italians, 
is wholly immaterial. 

The " Cavallo " has perished utterly ; not even a drawing remains 
to give us an idea of what this work of genius must have been. It is 
my opinion, however, that we must seek elsewhere for traces of it. Is it 
likely that the bronze-casters, who were so busily employed during the 
early Renaissance in reproducing works of art, antique or contem- 
porary, would have overlooked this marvel ? They reproduced the 
equestrian statue of Marcus Aurelius again and again ! Padua and 
Verona, the head-centres of the bronze-workers, even Venice, were not 
so far from Milan but that followers of Donatello, such as Vellano and 
Riccio, or of Verrocchio, such as Leopardi and the Lombardi, might 
have known the equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza " de visu," or 
from terra-cotta copies. We know, indeed, that a small model of 

^ " So much is certain," says this writer in his Memoirs (pubHshed 1546), "that 
through the ignorance and carelessness of certain persons who neither recognise nor 
appreciate talent in any way, this work has been given over ignominiously to ruin. And 
I would remind you," he adds, " — not without sorrow and indignation— that this noble 
and ingenious masterpiece served the Gascon archers for a target." Vasari confirms 
this account by stating that the model remained intact till King Louis entered Milan with 
the French, who totally destroyed it. 

2 See the Correspondence pubHshed by the Marquis Campori : Gazette des Beaux- 
Arts, 1866, vol. i. p. 43. According to M. Boito, the archers destroyed the figure of 
the rider, but not the horse. {Leonardo, Michelangelo, Andrea PaUadio, p. 99, Milan, 
1883.) 



STATUE OF FRANCESCO SFORZA 155 

Leonardo's " Cavallo " was brought into France by Rustici, and subse- 
quently formed part of the collection of Leone Leoni.^ Unfortu- 
nately every trace of it has vanished. Vasari speaks of a small wax 
model said to have been quite perfect, but, even in his day, this was 
no longer in existence. 

In the Berlin Museum there is a bronze statuette of a horse (no. 
224) which Messrs. Bode and v. Tschudi believe to be derived from 
Leonardo's masterpiece, basing their opinion chiefly on the vivacious 
treatment of the head, and the vigorous structure of the hind-quarters, 
on which all the weight is thrown. In Mme. Edouard Andre's 
collection too, there is a gilt-bronze statuette of a horse, bold, pliant, 
vivacious, and inspired as only the " Cavallo " of Leonardo can have 
been. The supreme quality of this little work of art, which Mme. 
Andre discovered in Venice, was evident to her critical eye, and she 
has not hesitated to give it Leonardo's glorious name. The infinite 
suppleness and freedom which Leonardo alone was capable of con- 
ferring on his creations, his skill in so arranging his sculptures that 
they looked equally beautiful from any point of view, his profound 
knowledge of proportion, are all present to a supreme degree in 
this bronze, which may be unhesitatingly ranked among the master's 
works. 

Was Leonardo's horse represented as walking or galloping ? This 
is a problem over which torrents of ink have flowed. Louis 
Courajod calls in the testimony of Paolo Giovio to prove that it was 
prancing (" vehementer incitatus et anhelans"), but may he not attach 
too strict a meaning to this ? To my mind, the most forcible and, at 
the same time harmonious, composition is that with the rearing horse, 
in one sketch with uplifted head, in another with the head bent over 
the breast. It is by the aid of these two sketches that I prefer to 
evoke the image of Leonardo's masterpiece. 

Some years after the destruction of the famous equestrian statue, 

1 " Un cavallo di relievo di plastica, fatto di sua mano, che ha il cavallier Leone 
Aretino statouario '' {Trattato delta Pittura^ ed. of 1584, p. 177). See Courajod) 
Alexandre Lenoir, vol. ii. p. 95. — Plon, Leone Leoni, pp. 56, 63, 188. This author is 
inclined to think that this was the very model of which Leoni superintended the casting 
in Paris, 1549. 

X 2 



^56 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 




Michelangelo, meeting Leonardo in the streets of Florence, taunted 
him bitterly before a group of friends with having abandoned his work 
unfinished : " Thou who madest the model of a horse to cast it in 
bronze, and finding thyself unable to do so, wast forced with shame to 
give up the attempt." 

Had Michelangelo known of the trials that awaited him in con- 
nection with his own work for the tomb of Pope Julius II., he would 
perhaps have been less severe upon an undertaking to which his rival 
might have applied his own phrase, calling it the tragedy of his life. 

None the less, it is 
deeply to be deplored that 
Leonardo was not more 
energetic in his efforts 
to rescue the magnificent 
work which formed his 
chief title to renown as 
a sculptor. He must 
have had a strong strain 
of fatalism in him to 
witness the destruction 
of the masterpiece which 
had occupied the best 
years of his manhood 
without one word of 
regret. His note books overflow with records of every impression, 
even the most fleeting, but we may search in vain for a syllable 
concerning the demolition of his equestrian statue. 

In it, not only the city of Milan, but all humanity lost a master- 
piece, the beauty of which no description and no sketch can convey — a 
masterpiece worthy to be ranked with the Last Supper of Santa Maria 
delle Grazie. 



STUDY FOR THE EQUESTRIAN STATUE OF FRANCESCO SFORZA. 

(Windsor Library. Reproduced from Dr. Richter's work.) 



Marshal Trivulzio, the rival of Lodovico il Moro, was also 
exceedingly desirous of having a memorial statue executed by Leonardo. 
It was thought, at one time, that the negotiations relative to the 
subject took place during Leonardo's residence in France, where he 
met the Marshal who, like himself, ended his days in that country. 



DESIGN FOR A STATUE OF TRIVULZIO 



157 



But Dr. Richter, with more show of probabihty, suggests the date 
1499, ^t which time Trivulzio returned in triumph to his native 
city, from which he had long been banished by Sforza. Some 
thought of defiance and of vengeance may have inspired him 
with the idea of erecting on his tomb a statue, less colossal in 
dimensions, but not less sumptuous, than that of Duke Francesco 
Sforza. 

An elaborate project in Leonardo's own handwriting proves that 
the monument was to have been most ornate. The marble 
base, very richly worked, 
was to be flanked by 
columns with bronze 
capitals, and adorned with 
friezes, festoons, and 
pedestals, with six panels 
("tavole") bearing figures 
and trophies (evidently 
in bas-relief, as on the 
tomb of Gaston de Foix), 
with six harpies bearing 
candelabra, and with 
eight figures (the Vir- 
tues ?) at a price of 23 
ducats each. The statue 
of the Marshal, valued 
at 150 ducats, was to 

crown the monument. The whole cost was fixed at 3046 ducats, 
432 for the models in clay and in wax, 200 for the iron frame- 
work and the mould, 500 for the bronze, and 450 for the polishing 
and chasing. These figures are not without interest in their bearing 
upon the history of bronze sculpture at the end of the fifteenth 
century.^ 

The bronze statuette of a horseman in the Thiers collection may 

perhaps have had some connection with this design. A competent 

critic, M. Molinier, does not hesitate to recognise in it the portrait of 

Trivulzio ; he is of opinion that the statuette originated in Leonardo's 

^ Richter, vol. ii., p. 15 et seq. 




STUDY FOR THE EQUESTRIAN STATUE OF FRANCESCO SFORZA. 

(Windsor Library. Reproduced from Dr. Richter's work.) 



158 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

atelier, and is much inclined to believe that the master himself worked 
upon it.^ 

Leonardo deemed himself equally skilled in sculpture and in 
painting — " Seeing that I execute sculpture no less than painting, and 
that I practise the one in an equal degree with the other, it appears to 
me that I may, without reproach, pronounce an opinion as to which 
demands the more talent, skill and perfection." ^ Nevertheless, he 
showed himself relatively hard upon the former branch of art, 
which he systematically subordinated to the latter, always laying 
stress upon the fact that sculpture demands more physical than 
intellectual labour. 

A whole series of sculptures of more than doubtful authenticity 
have been attributed to the master on the strength of these 
pronouncements. 

According to a contemporary critic, the marble bust of Beatrice 
d'Este, in the Louvre, should be included in the list of Leonardo's 
works. ^ But it is now declared to be the work of Gian Cristoforo 
Romano.* 

Another famous bust, the marvellous bas-relief of Scipio Africanus, 
bequeathed to the Louvre by M. Rattier, has also been ascribed to 
Leonardo, but on insufficient grounds.^ 

I have yet to mention the stucco bas-relief, Disco^^d, in the South 
Kensington Museum, which M. Muller Walde has not hesitated to 
ascribe to Leonardo. The composition, it is true, is marked by all 
the fire, the spirit, and the inspiration so characteristic of the master. 
But the general arrangement seems to me too soft and facile. 
The predominance of the rich architectural background, again, an 
unprecedented feature in any authenticated work of Leonardo's, is not 
a reassuring detail. Note the colonnades, the domes, the arches, the 
galleries, the pseudo-classic palaces, etc. Discord, a spirited female 
figure, striding along, brandishes a long stick behind her, after the 

1 Revue deV Art ancien et i/toderne, 1897, vol. ii., p. 421 et seq., 1898, vol. i., p. 74, 
The horse has been restored by M. Fre'miet. (See Charles Blanc, Collection d'Objets 
d'Art de M. Thiers, leguee au Musee du Louvre, Paris, 1884, p. 22.) 

2 Trattato delta Pittura, chap. 38. Cf chaps. 35, 36. 

3 Courajod, Conjectures a propos d'un Buste en Marbre de Beatrix d'Este au Musee du 
Louvre, Paris, 1877, Gazette des Beaux- Arts. 

* Venturi, Archivio storico dell' Arte, 1890. 

^ See the article in the Gazette des Beaux-Arts, February, 1897. 



V 
Bust of Scipio. School of Leonardo. 



SCULPTURE ASCRIBED TO LEONARDO 159 

fashion of a Parthian dart. This figure recalls the types of the school of 
Fontainebleau, rather than those of Leonardo. 

Strange to say, the composition, which contains passages of great 
freedom — a series of torsoes not unworthy of Michelangelo — abounds 
in faulty foreshortenings. All the figures in the foreground, running 
or seated, are very much too short. ^ 

All the information we have as to other sculptures by Leonardo is 
more or less open to question. 

Among the works ascribed to him are : The Infant Jesus blessing 
the little S. John, a terra-cotta, formerly the property of Cardinal 
Federigo Borromeo ; ^ and a S. Jerome, in high relief, formerly in the 
Hugford collection at Florence.^ 

According to Rio,^ Leonardo even worked in ivory ! " M. Thiers," 
remarks this uncritical writer, "owns a little ivory figure of exquisite 
workmanship, which can hardly be attributed to any one but 
Leonardo." It is enough to reproduce such an assertion to show its 
inanity ! 

Needless to say, the sculpture of the School of Milan fell under 
Leonardo's ascendency no less evidently than the painting. Indeed, the 
principles of the creator of the equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza 
and of the Last Supper'^ were so suggestive that they extended their 

1 Dr. Bode ascribes the Discord to Verrocchio : Archivio siorico delP Arte, 1893, 
p. 11 et seq. 

2 Rio, D Art Chretien, vol. iii. p. 78. 

^ Venturi, Essai sur les Ouvrages physica-mathhnaliques de Leonard de Vinci, p. 46. 

* LArt Chretien, p. 57. 

^ Copies without number, both in marble and bronze, prove how great must have 
been the sensation produced among the sculptors of Northern Italy by the Last Supper. 
First, we have the copy in bas-relief by Stefano da Sesto in the Certosa at Pavia, then two 
very similar copies in the church at Saronno and in S. Maria dei Miracoli at Venice 
(Frizzoni, Archivio storico delV Arte, 1889). Another artist substituted silver for marble 
in a copy executed about the same time (Bossi, del Cenacolo, pp. 143, 165). In 1529, 
Andrea da Milano copied the picture in high relief, and replaced the painted figures by 
thirteen statues. Traces of the Leonardesque may be noted in the Virgin enthroned 
of Stefano da Sesto, also in the Certosa at Pavia (Liibke : Zeitschrift filr bildende Kunst, 
vol. vi. p. 44). The Apostles standing or kneeling at each side of the Virgin are 
reminiscent both of Leonardo and of Raphael. On another monument in the Certosa, 
the tomb of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, by Benedetto Briosco, there is a head of a Virgin 
which, with its perfect oval face and compressed mouth, at once recalls Leonardo. 
According to Vasari, Gugliemo della Porta is to be reckoned among the imitators of 
the master. Finally, we may note that in Tuscany Leonardo had the sculptor Rustic! 
for a pupil, and honoured the young Bandinelli with his counsels. 



i6o 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



vivifying influence even into regions apparently inaccessible to their 
action. It appears unexpectedly in artists like Bernardino Luini 
and Sodoma, who never had the good fortune to come into per- 
sonal contact with Leonardo. But this influence did not manifest 
itself everywhere with identical, or equally beneficial, results. Though 
the Milanese sculptors recognised the supreme grace of Leonardo's 
creation and, to a certain extent, the difficulties that he had over- 
come, they had no conception of the infinite amount of detailed 
research and strenuous labour that went to make up the sum of his 
perfection. Hence it was that Milanese sculpture passed from 
extreme ruggedness to the facility, the polish, the sentimental 
insipidity so apparent in the statues and bas-reliefs of Briosco at the 
Certosa of Pavia, and those of Bambaja, on the famous tomb of Gaston 
de Foix. 




STUDY FOR THE EQUESTRIAN STATUE OF FRANCESCO SFORZA. 

(Windsor Library. Reproduced from Dr. Richter's work.) 




STUDY OF HORSES. 
(Windsor Library.) 



CHAPTER VI 



THE VIRGIN OF THE ROCKS " — OTHER MADONNAS OF THE MILANESE PERIOD 



THERE is no more tantalising problem 
in the history of modern art than that 
of the classification and chronology of 
Leonardo da Vinci's works. One is sometimes 
tempted to believe that just as the master's 
handwriting remained absolutely unchanged for 
thirty-five years, making it impossible to dis- 
tinguish the manuscripts of his extreme old 
age from those of his first literary efforts, ^ 
so, too, his manner of drawing and painting 
never varied an iota throughout his career. 
I will not undertake to solve all the difficulties^ 
many of them inextricable, which beset the 
determination of dates in a life-work of such 
importance as that of Leonardo. In such investigations it is 
impossible to show too much reserve, scepticism, and above all 
modesty, a virtue which is becoming extremely rare in the domain 
of artistic erudition. But I may claim to offer some materials for 

1 See M. Charles Ravaisson-Mollien's Maimscrits de Leonard de Vinci, vol. v. p. i. 

Y 




■IGUKE FOR "THE ADOKATI 
OF THE MAGI." 

(Bonnat Collection, Paris.) 



i62 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

the building up of a monument which no isolated efforts can hope 
to raise. 

Successive biographers of Leonardo have fixed the date of the 
Virgin of the Rocks, some before his removal from Florence,^ some 
after his establishment at Milan ; ^ in other words, some before and 
some after the year 1484. A recently discovered document has settled 
this vexed question ;^ the picture was painted at Milan. 

Nevertheless, there is a vast gulf between the Louvre picture and 
other works painted by Leonardo at Milan ; technique, style, expression, 
all differ. The drawing is slightly dry and hard, somewhat in the 
manner of Verrocchio ; the crumpled draperies, the anxious, even 
fretful expression of the faces, are peculiarities (we dare not say 
faults, for such faults disarm criticism) which were soon to dis- 
appear in the master's more mature works. In a word, though 
it was painted at Milan, the Virgin of the Rocks is Florentine in 
feeling. 

The picture, in spite of the impression of rapid and spontaneous 
creation It makes upon the spectator, was one of the most laborious of 
the master's works, as his drawings bear witness. A characteristic 

1 Charles Clement, Miiller-Walde. I myself once shared this opinion. 

2 Liibke, Geschichte der italietiischeji Malerei, vol. ii. — A. Gruyer, Voyage autour du 
Salon carre du Louvre, p. 33. Paris, 1891. M. Gruyer believes the picture to have been 
painted at Milan, rather at the beginning than at the end of Leonardo's sojourn there- 
According to him, it dates from between 1482 and 1490, rather than from between 1490 
and 1500. 

3 Motta, Archivio storico lombardo, 1893, vol. xx., p. 972-977. — Frizzoni, Archivio 
storico deir Arte, 1894, p. 58-61. ,The following is an abstract of this curious document : 
At a date unspecified, between 1484 and 1494, Giovanni Ambrogio Preda and Leonardo 
da Vinci agreed with the Brothers of the Chapel of the Conception of the Church of San 
Francesco at Milan, to execute an altar-piece (" una ancona ") for them, to consist of 
gilded figures in relief, an oil painting of the Virgin, and two other pictures, also in oil, 
large figures of angels. Difficulties arose in connection with the price : the two artists 
valued the work at 300 florins ; the friars, however, declined to give more than 25 florins 
for the Madonna, though several amateurs had offered 100. In the petition addressed to 
the Duke on the subject, the artists ask that the Madonna should be left in their hands, 
and that the 800 lire paid them by the friars should be considered the price of the reredos 
and the two angels. 

It must not, however, be supposed that Preda was Leonardo's collaborator in the 
picture. They were associated in the execution of a carved reredos with three pictures. 
Preda clearly produced the sculptures; he is, too, the reputed author of the two 
angels ; and Leonardo— as this document finally establishes— painted the Madontta with 
his own hand. 



VI 



First Idea for " 77/^- Virgin of the Rocks 



STUDIES FOR THE "VIRGIN OF THE ROCKS" 163 

drawing (p. 167) in the Ecole des Beaux Arts reveals the various 
transformations of a single figure, that of the angel. He appears first 
in profile, standing, his left foot on a step ; with one hand he holds his 
mantle, and with the other he points to some object unseen in the 
drawing, evidently to the little S. John. Lower down are studies in 
silver-point for the left arm, holding back the drapery, and for the 
right arm, which appears first with the hand extended, then with 
the hand closed, save for the first finger. This last is the action 
Leonardo finally adopted for the picture. I hasten to add that it is 
also the only part of the drawing he retained. In the picture the angel 
is no longer in profile, but turns his face three-quarters to the spectator, 
which adds greatly to the animation of the scene, for in a composition 
of four persons, two of whom are children, an actor in profile would be 
an actor more or less lost. The action of the left arm has undergone 
a modification no less important; instead of holding the drapery, 
it supports the Divine Child, and the angel, who was standing, now 
kneels on one knee. It needed Leonardo's consummate art to 
mask so much effort, and preserve an appearance of freshness and 
spontaneity in a work which was the result of long and elaborate 
combinations. 

There are other drawings, showing us Leonardo's dealings with the 
head, the figure, and the draperies of the angel. First in importance 
is the superb study of the head in the Royal Library at Turin, perhaps 
even more beautiful than the head in the picture itself. I may also 
mention a tracing of a lost original in the Ambrosiana at Milan, a head 
with long curling hair, turned three-quarters to the spectator (Gerli, 
pi. xxi. ; Braun, no. 27). 

In the Windsor Library, again, we have a sketch for the figure of 
the angel (Grosvenor Gallery Catalogue, no. 71), another for the arm 
with the outstretched forefinger (no. 72), and a study of drapery for 
this same angel (no. 75), who looks towards the background instead 
of at the spectator. 

A drawing in the Uffizi (Braun, 431), a study of drapery for a 
kneeling figure, seen in profile, is somewhat akin to the Windsor study, 
but was certainly designed for a different and older figure. (The 
shoulder and left arm are bare.) 



164 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



Among the studies for the head of the Virgin, I may mention as 
most important a drawing on green paper in silver-point, in the Duke 
of Devonshire's collection at Chatsworth (see our pi. vi.). In this she 
is represented side by side with the little S. John, looking from left to 
right, in an exactly opposite direction to that of the picture. The 
type, over-slender and affected, is far from attractive, and differs 
altogether from that finally adopted. But that this head was a 
study for the Virgin of the Rocks is proved by the presence of the 

little S. John, repro- 
duced almost exactly 
from the drawing in the 
Louvre. 

Having thus esta- 
blished the relation of 
the Chatsworth draw- 
ing to the Virgin of 
the Rocks, we are 
further enabled to con- 
nect a head of the 
Virgin in the Christ 
Church collection at 
Oxford (p. 171), with the 
picture. In type and 
technique this drawing 
is almost identical with 
that at Chatsworth.^ 

I may add that, dif- 
fering altogether from 
Herr M tiller- Walde (Fig. 8), I consider the head of a young woman 
on green paper, in the Ufifizi, closely akin to the head of the Virgin in 

^ This connection has escaped Herr Miiller-Walde, who assigns the date 1472-1473 to 
the Christ Church study. (Fig. 9, pi. xliii.) We must, in view of the demonstration 
in the text above, antedate it by some six or eight years. As to the laborious theory 
built up by Signor Morelli on the Christ Church drawing, which he ascribes to his 
favourite, Bernardino dei Conti, it is overthrown at once by the mere fact that this 
drawing was a study for the Virgin of the Rocks, and that in execution it shows an absolute 
identity with other drawings by Leonardo. It is not improbable that the head of a 
woman in the Borghese Gallery (Miiller-Walde, Fig. 7) may also have been a study for 
the picture, if indeed this drawing is really by Leonardo. 



; 






U' 


1 I'-A ■ ■ i 


/ ■' J 



VIRGIN OF THE ROCKS 



(Royal Library, Turin.) 




STUDY FOR THE ANGEL IN THE "VIRGIN OF THE ROCKS.' 

(Ecole des Beaux Arts, Paris.) 



i66 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

the picture. It has the same short but firmly modelled nose, the same 
straight lips, the same somewhat square chin.^ 

We may now briefly mention the studies for the Infant Jesus. 

The Loavre owns three, in silver-point heightened with Chinese 
white, on that greenish paper Leonardo seems to have specially 
affected during his first Florentine period. They are all of the Child's 
head, and show It In profile ; he looks before him, while, In the 
picture, he turns to look at his mother. Note, however, that whereas 
In the first the face Is In sharp profile, in the other two the artist tries 
the effect of a " profil perdu" (i.e., less than a full profile). Dr. 
RIchter (vol. I., p. 345) questions the authenticity of the principal 
drawing (no, 383 in M. Reiset's catalogue), which he holds to be a 
copy of later date. But I am unable to share his views on this 
point. Herr Mtiller-Walde, on the other hand, describes the drawing 
as " herrlich " (superb). 

A smaller, but more complete study of the same head, with the 
shoulders and part of the breast added. Is in the Royal Library at 
Windsor (RIchter, pi. xliv.). It is a very realistic drawing, the 
expression of the face curiously old and prescient. It is noticeable 
that It Is In red chalk, a medium never used by Leonardo's prede- 
cessors, and infrequently by himself till a comparatively late period 
of his career. Nothing short of RIchter's authority, therefore, would 
Induce me to accept the authenticity of this study, the earliest in date 
of Leonardo's drawings in red chalk. 

Another study for the Child, seated, and leaning on one hand, an 
angel's head beside him, was published by Gerli (pi. xlx.). 

Finally, a pencil drawing of a child's head, touched with Chinese 
white. In the Chatsworth collection, is also supposed to be a study for 
the picture.^ 

We may novv^ pass on to the studies for the little S. John. A 
sketch for the head, three quarters to the front, Is to be found in the 
Vallardi collection, in the Louvre (Braun, no. 170). It Is drawn In 
silver-point, on greenish paper: (RIchter, vol. I., 342). This head 

1 I only know the grisaille sketch for the head of the Virgin in the Holford collection 
by Rio's mention of it in L Art Chretien (vol. iii., p. 81). 

2 Waagen, Treasures of Art in Great Britain, vol. iii., p. 353. 



STUDIES FOR THE "VIRGIN OF THE ROCKS" 167 

served Raphael as his type for a whole series of Infant Saviours. 
The same head re-appears in a drawing in the Duke of Devonshire's 
collection, also on green paper, side by side with a head of the Virgin. 
(See our pi. vi.) 

Two drawings in the Mancel gallery, in the Hotel de Ville at 
Caen, to which my attention was drawn by M. Leopold Mabilleau, 
and for photographs of which I am indebted to the learned keeper of 
the gallery, M. Decauville-Lachenee, are studies for the little S. John 
and the Infant Jesus. A long interval, however, perhaps several 
years, seems to have divided these studies from the finished work. 
As his habit was, the artist, before sitting down to his easel, sub- 
mitted his various figures to a laborious process of adaptation. Thus, 
he made the profile head considerably younger in the picture ; from 
a boy, the child became an infant. He also reduced the masses 
of hair to normal proportions, and softened the expression of the 
little S. John. 

German critics, from Passavant and Waagen to Herr Miiller-Walde, 
have contested the authenticity of the Virgin of the Rocks from time 
to time.^ 

Setting all patriotic considerations aside, I cannot but maintain the 
Louvre picture to be one of those in which the master's genius manifests 
itself most gloriously. Allowances must, of course, be made for the 
unhappily numerous repaints, and the blackening of the shadows, a 
defect aggravated by the thick yellow varnish that overlies the surface. 
Granted that the composition has not achieved the breadth and 
grandeur of the Last Supper, or the suavity of the S. Anne, yet it 
shows us Leonardo as his own precursor. 

A replica of the Virgin of the Rocks was bought in 1880, at the 
considerable price of ^9,000, for the English National Gallery, which 
claims in this example to have acquired the true original by Leonardo. 
The replica, which came from the Suffolk collection, was bought in 

^ Quite recently, M. Strzygowski pronounced the Virgin of the Rocks, in the Louvre, a 
bad copy ! {Jahrbuch der kgl. Kimstsajfwilungett, 1895, p. 165.) See also Sir E. Poynter's 
article in the Art Journal, 1894, p. 229-232. But cf. Signor Frizzoni {Gazette des Beaux 
Arts, 1884, vol. i., p. 235), Herr Koopmann {Repertoriuin fiir Kunstzvissenschaft, 1891, 
p. 353-360), Dr. Richter {Art Journal, 1894, pp. 166-170, 300-301), and various other 
foreign critics, who all uphold the Louvre picture. 




THE VIRGIN OF THE ROCKS. 

(National Gallery, London.) 



THE "VIRGIN OF THE ROCKS," NATIONAL GALLERY 



.69 



Italy in 1796 by the collector, Gavin Hamilton, for 30 ducats. It is 
declared to be the picture described by Lomazzo as in the church of 
San Francesco at Milan at the end of the sixteenth century. ^ The 
two side pictures, single figures of angels, passed into the collection of 
the Duca Melzi. They have now (July, 1898) been acquired by the 
National Gallery, and have lately been placed on either side of the 
altar-piece, as works 
by Leonardo's fellow- 
labourer, Ambrogio de 
Predis. 

An absolutely deci- 
sive argument in favour 
of the authenticity of 
the Louvre picture is 
furnished by the fact 
that there are studies 
by Leonardo in the 
Ecole des Beaux Arts 
and at Windsor (see 
pp. 165, 167), showing 
the angel's hand out- 
stretched towards the 
Infant Jesus. As is 
well known, this ges- 
ture is modified in the 
London example, which 
must therefore be of 
later date than ours. 

In the first of these drawings, which has escaped the investigations of 
all my predecessors, the standing figure certainly seems to have been 
re-touched, perhaps even re-drawn in parts ; but the two fragments 
of the arms and hands proclaim Leonardo's authorship with unmis- 
takable precision. The handling is not yet devoid of archaism. Note 
that the angel's arm resembles that of S. Peter in the Las^ Supper at 
Milan ; there is the same gesture, the same bending back of the hand. 
1 Tratiaio della Fititira, book ii., chap. xvii. 

Z 




STUDY FOR THE "VIRGIN OF THE ROCKS. 



(Christ Church Library, Oxford.) 



I70 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

The London picture is, in my opinion, a replica, painted under 
Leonardo's supervision by one of his pupils.^ 

The Louvre picture, I freely admit, is hard of aspect, and harsh 
in tonality. Time has fastened his cruel teeth into it. The painting 
has lost its bloom, and the groundwork seems to lie bare before 
us. Nevertheless, it speaks to the eyes and the soul with supreme 
authority. 

We must further remember that the Louvre picture has a venerable 
history. It has been on the spot for hundreds of years. In the 
first part of the sixteenth century, it was already in the collection of 
Francis I., a sovereign, who, it must be admitted, was very favourably 
circumstanced as regards the acquisition of works by Leonardo.^ 

One word more. The differences between the London and Paris 
examples are of precisely the same nature as those of the two examples 
of Holbein's Madonna, that in the Dresden Gallery, and that in the 
Darmstadt Museum. The first, which is the original, is more archaic, 
heavier perhaps, but more deeply felt ; the second, the copy, is freer 
and more elegant. 

If, as I suppose, the National Gallery picture was painted in 
Leonardo's studio and under his supervision, it is easy to see why 
certain harshnesses apparent in the Louvre example, have disappeared 
in that of the National Gallery. The master was seeking, hesitating ; 
the pupil had only to copy and to soften. 

It is time to study the composition of the Virghi of the Rocks. 

It is a group of four figures, three kneeling, the fourth seated at 

1 I entirely endorse M. Anatole Gruyer's judgment on this head: "The London 
picture is fresh in colour, well preserved, fascinating, graceful, full of charm ; but it is a 
superficial charm. The faces are slightly insipid in their beauty ; there is something 
heavy and woolly in their contours ; they lack the intensity of expression so characteristic 
of Leonardo. The angel is not wanting in grace, but the grace has little elevation. This 
figure differs to some extent from that in the Louvre picture. Supporting the Infant 
Jesus with both hands, he looks at the little S. John, unheeding of the spectator. The 
Virgin and the two " bambini " are distinctly feebler. In short, it is a pretty, rather 
than a beautiful work, and one in which we do not feel the real presence of the master. 
{Voyage autoiir dii Salon carre, p. 31.) 

2 Testimony of Cassiano del Pozzo, published in the Memoires de la Societe de 
r Histoire de Paris, 1886. — Pere Dan, in his Tresor des Merveilles de la Maison royale 
de Fotitainebleau, p. 135, mentions "Our Lady, with an Infant Jesus supported by an 
angel, in a very graceful landscape." 



\II 



' The Vu'gin of the Rocks^ 

(THK I.nrMCK.) 



THE "VIRGIN OF THE ROCKS" IN THE LOUVRE 171 

the entrance of a cavern. These figures are arranged in the pyramidal 
form afterwards so much in favour with Raphael. The Virgin, in the 
centre, biit in the middle distance, dominates the other actors. A blue 
mantle fastened at the breast by a brooch, hangs from her shoulders. 
One hand on the shoulder of the little S. John, at whom she is looking, 
the other extended over her Son, she invites the precursor to approach 
him. The Infant, seated on the ground, and steadying himself with 
his left hand, blesses his young companion with the right ; the angel, 
one knee on the ground beside the Child, supports him with one hand, 
and with the other shows him the little S.John. Here we have 
already the germs of the consummate art of gesture, of which Leonardo 
afterwards made so brilliant an application in the Last Supper at 
Milan. It is this which gives such extraordinary animation to the 
composition. 

The master, however, is far from perfect as yet. A certain inex- 
perience reveals itself, side by side with the most exquisite sensibility, 
the rarest faculty for observation. Theresas, in particular, something 
slightly^archaic in the Virgin's type. (The painter seems to have 
lagged behind the draughfsman, for the studies for this picture are free 
and supple in the highest degree.) The nose is straight, not aquiline, 
the mouth but slightly curved, the chin low and square, as in certain 
faces of Perugino's and Francia's. As to the angel, who wears a red 
tunic and a green miantle, his expression is vague and undecided. He 
is more firmly modelled in the two preliminary drawings, the one in the 
Royal Library at Turin, the other in the Ecole des Beaux Arts. Note 
the affinity between his type and that of the Virgin. 

In the two children there is also something hard and arid ; the 
desire for objective truth occasionally gets the better of a sense of style, 
and expression. But what a knowledge of colour and of modelling ! 
The result is a mingling of Correggio and Rembrandt. Tn the Infant 
Jesus, with his somewhat mournful expression, his chestnut locks, his 
chubby contours (there are dimples on the elbow and shoulder), the 
effect of the wonderful foreshortening, the broadly treated surfaces, is 
litde short of miraculous. In the little S. John, the foreshortening is 
curt and abrupt, after the manner of Verrocchio. The type, too, has 
striking analogies with those of Verrochio. I may add that the light 

z 2 



172 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



falls full on the Infant Saviour, whereas his young companion is in 
shadow. 

It is not easy to sum up the beauties of such a work. First of all, 
I must point out the profound originality of the conception, and the 

infinite charm of the ex- 
ecution. Like a balloon 
soaring in the air to such 
a height that presently all 
but a few points on the 
earth are out of sight, it 
rises above all anterior 
and contemporary works ! 
Once more an artist has 
arisen, who, casting off 
the trammels of tradition, 
looks at things face to 
face, and renders them as 
he sees them, with sove- 
reign grace and distinc- 
tion. Before Raphael, 
Leonardo treats the little 
intimate drama : the Virgin caressing her son, watching his pla^ 
directing his education — and treats it with as much charm, if not wjth 
quite the same precision of touch. The playfulness, the lightness, and 
at the same time, the conviction with which he endows these scenes of 
two or three actors, are not to be rendered in words. They are idyls 
of the freshest and most innocent kind, without that note of melancholy 
which the prescience of pain to come often puts in the eyes and on the 
lips of the young mother. 

The composition is curiously modern. How much of freedom there 
is, even in the faces ! The artist, unfettered by traditional portraits, 
takes as model for the Virgin, Christ, the Apostles and Saints, the men 
and women around him. He troubles himself little about attributes, 
preserving or suppressing them according to the exigencies of his 
scheme. He goes so far as to represent the Virgin with bare feet, a 
heresy into which Fra Angelico, nourished in the severe tradition of 




FOK THE INFANT 



JOHN THE BAPTIST. 
(Mancc! Gallery, Caen.) 



LEONARDO'S IDEA OF COLOUR 



173 



the Dominicans, would never have fallen, a heresy which orthodox 
painters abjured once more after the Council of Trent. But if Leo- 
nardo, like the majority of his Florentine contemporaries, brought his 
divinities down to earth, he gave a warmth and poetry to his concep- 
tions, well calculated to awaken religious fervour, and no painter, 
indeed, has passed for a more devout artist. Strange paradox ! 
Leonardo and Perus^ino, the two artists Vasari charges with absolute 
scepticism, are just the two whose works breathe most eloquently of 
faith ! 

Leaving warmth and intensity of harmony to his fellow-student, 
Perugino, with his deep and brilliant greens and reds, his precise con- 
tours, his firm, and often hard modelling, Leonardo, in his Virgin of the 
Rocks, as in all his later works, determined to win colour from shades 
apparently the most neutral, greens verging on grays, with silvery 
reflections, bitumen, dull yellow. Nothing could be more strongly 
opposed to the scale 
adopted by the Primi- 
tives. All high, frank 
tones are banished from 
his palette ; he renounces 
gold, rich stuffs, and bril- 
liant carnations. It was 
indeed, with a sort of 
cavtaieu that he achieved 
his marvels of chiaroscuro, 
and the incomparable 
warm and amber harmony 
of his Mona Lisa. No 
artist before him had 
made so severe a demand 
on the possibilities of pure 
painting. 

The ease of the composition and the richness of the handling claim 
our admiration in an equal degree. The Florentines, those incom- 
parable draughtsmen, might justly have exclaimed : " At last a 
painter is born to us ! " The angles and articulations of the figures 




(Mancel Gallery, Caen.) 



174 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

have disappeared, giving place to the most harmonious Hnes ; these, 
in their turn are bathed in light of infinite suavity, or rather, the figures 
themselves are conceived with a view to the light which bathes them. 
This art of wrapping objects in atmosphere, of enveloppe, to use a 
modern phrase, was, in fact, if not invented by Leonardo, at least first 
brought by him to that high degree of perfection to which it now 
attains. In his effects of chiaroscuro, in the unprecedented subtleties of 
his colour-harmonies, we recognise the born painter. Leonardo was 
as well versed in the laws of linear perspective, anatomy, and kindred 
sciences as any of his rivals. But far from looking upon them as an 
end in themselves, he treats them as accessories, a mechanism, to be 
concealed as soon as it has played its part. A picture, according to 
his idea, should betray no effort ; it must only show the result — the 
ideal of grace, beauty, or harmony in full perfection. 

The landscape of the Virgin of the Rocks calls for special analysis. 
From the first, Leonardo manifests a love for rocky and broken 
landscape, in preference to scenery of broad lines and undulations. 
The Italian painting of the Renaissance hovered, so to speak, between 
these two tendencies. The one was followed by the " trecentisti," whose 
successor Leonardo was on this point ; the other by Perugino, and to 
some extent, by the Venetians. The partisans of the first system 
affect marked contrasts ; rugged boulders, alternating with smiling 
vegetation ; scenery tunnelled by ravines, and ravaged by convulsions, 
as in some parts of the Apennines. They are one with the Flemings 
in their love of detail. The others incline to large surfaces ; their 
hills descend to plains and lakes by gradual undulations. Their land- 
scape, in short, is the Roman Campagna, rendered with masterly effect 
by Perugino and the Umbrian school. 

Leonardo, however, loves to complicate and refine upon the 
traditional material. The gorges of Chiusuri and of Monte Oliveto 
do not suffice him. He is not even content with the erratic boulders 
of the monastery of La Vernia, in the Casentino. The mineralogist 
and geologist dominate the artist. He is fascinated by the strange 
and monstrous dolomite rocks of the Friuli, gigantic cones emerging 
from vast table-lands, jagged peaks, grottoes no less imposing than the 
dolmens and menhirs of Brittany. 



Study for the Head of the fiifaiit Jesus in " The Viroin 
of the Rocks." 



.(l-HK I.OIVKlO 



THE "MADONNA LITTA " 175 

The soil is treated with all the tenderness the Primitives bestowed 
on accessories. Mantegna could not have been more exact, but Leon- 
ardo adds fancy to exactitude. Slabs of rocks, pebbles, plants (irises), 
make up the foreground. The grotto seems to breathe forth a strange 
and penetrating moisture : we dream of nymphs, of sylphs, of gnomes, 
of all that world of fantasy evoked by Shakespeare in the Midszunmer 
Nighis Dream, a world only Leonardo could have translated on 
canvas. The background is composed of a series of perpendicular 
rocks, like sugar-loaves. 

Leonardo, spirit of hesitations and experiments though he was, 
shows a rare tenacity in his choice of landscape motives. Through- 
out his works, in the Virgin of the Rocks, the S. Anne, the Mona Lisa, 
we find the same dolomite mountains, abrupt peaks rising from high 
plains in bizarre outline.^ He very probably made a journey in his 
youth through the Friuli, and retained a vivid recollection of its 
scenery."^ 

I think it not impossible that the famous Madonna Litta bought 
at Milan for the Hermitage, S. Petersburg, in 1865, may also 
have been painted at this period. 

The fact that the beautiful study in profile for the Virgin's head, 
in the Vallardi collection at the Louvre (see our pi. xi.), is on greenish 
paper of the same sort as that used for the studies of the Virgin of the 
Rocks tends to prove that the Madonna Litta is a more or less 
contemporary work. 

This drawing contains the master's first idea. A pen drawing in 
the Windsor Library shows the Child at the mother's breast, in an 
attitude differing little from that of the picture. 

In the picture, we see the Virgin seated, a half-length figure, in a 
room the two windows of which open on an arid landscape. Dressed 
in a red robe bordered with gold embroidery, and a blue mantle lined 
with yellow, she wears on her head a grayish scarf striped with black 
and enriched with gold ornaments, not unlike those worn by Raphael's 

1 In his drawings, too, there are many of these sugar-loaf rocks. See Richter, vol. ii., 
pi. cxvii.-viii. A picture in the Berlin Museum attributed to Verrocchio, The Meeting of 
the youthful Saviour and S. John Baptist, contains dolomite rocks like those of 
Leonardo's backgrounds. 

2 In one of his notes relating to the canal of Romorontino, he speaks of sluices 
established in the Friuli by his orders. (Richter, vol. ii., p. 253.) 



176 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



Aldobi^andini Madonna and his Madonna della Scdia. She gazes 
tenderly at the Babe, offering him her right breast. The Child looks 

towards the spectator ; 
he lays one hand on his 
mother's breast, and 
grasps a goldfinch in 
the other. The con- 
ception is singularly 
sincere and touching. 

Criticism has waver- 
ed considerably in its 
ascriptions of the Ma- 
donna Litta. It has 
been very generally ac- 
cepted as a copy of an 
original by Leonardo. 
Clement de Ris attri- 
buted it to Luini,^ 
whereas Signor Morelli 
claimed it for the in- 
evitable Bernardino dei 
Conti,^ and Herr Harck for the no less inevitable Ambrogio de 
Predis [Repertorhun, 1896, p. /;22). I will only say that it approaclies 
very closely to the master himself 

^ Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1879, vol. i., p. 343. 

2 This attribution was demolished by M. Somoff in the last edition (1891) of the 
Catalogue of Pictures in the Hermitage. 




STUDY FOR THE INFANT 

V 



JOHN THE 

(The Louvre.) 




CHILD I'LAYING WITH A CAT. 
(Windsor Library.) 



Studies for the Head of the Infant fesns in " The Virgin 
of the Rocks." 




FIKST IDEA FOR 'THE LAST SUl'PEK. 
(Windsor Library.) 



CHAPTER VI 



" THE LAST SUPPER " 




I 



IDEA FOK 



LAST SUrPtK 



(Tire Louvre ) 



N the present chapter 
I propose to show 
how the painter of 
the Moiia Lisa, the Virgin 
of the Rocks, and the Saint 
Anne developed, by what 
teachings of his predeces- 
sors he profited, through 
what intimate vicissitudes 
his ideas passed before cul- 
minating in the immortal 
page of Santa Maria delle 
Grazie. For in this, needless to say, we have no abstract and 
artificial work, born of the caprice of an artist's imagination, but a 
page from the book of life itself, a story that has been seen and felt, 
a drama that has been acted. I devote myself to the "processus," 
congratulating myself on the fact that my predecessors have confined 
themselves to the collection of materials, and that I have the 
pleasure of offering my readers an attempt at a co-ordination of 
these materials, which, whatever its merit, will at least be novel. 

Before entering on this analysis I would say a few words as to the 
originality of the great picture, and its destination. 



178 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

The word " Cenacolo " has a certain breadth of appHcation in Italian. 
It is used indifferently for a dining-hall or refectory, for the special 
" upper room," in which the Saviour ate the Last Supper with his 
disciples, and for a picture representing that holy rite. The church of 
Santa Maria delle Grazie, that masterpiece of Lombard architecture as 
developed under the impulse given it by Bramante, was founded by 
the Dominicans, who began to build it in 1464, on Gothic lines. The 
work advanced slowly, and was carried on parsimoniously, until Lodo- 
vico il Moro, who took a fancy to the building, gave orders for the 
reconstruction of the cupola and the apse, causing the foundation stone 
to be laid in 1492. But it was after the death of Beatrice d'Este that 
the Milanese prince lavished gifts on his favourite church with special 
profusion, for it was here he buried his wife and children. Not content 
with pushing on the work vigorously, he filled the sacristy with plate 
and costly draperies. 

The history of The Last Supper in Santa Maria delle Grazie 
is buried in obscurity. We know not when the masterpiece was begun, 
when it was finished, nor (in my opinion, the main point of the whole 
problem) what were the conditions which gave it birth. Let me say 
at once, and thus make it unnecessary to come back to this question of 
chronology, that Leonardo was at work upon it in 1497, and that he 
finished it in that year.^ 

The refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie forms a very long and 
fairly high rectangle, vaulted by means of demi-vaults, of which the 
pendentives sink into the vertical walls, and give rise, at each end of the 
room, to three demi-lunes. Square-headed windows, seven on the left, 
four on the right, in the upper part of the wall, give a sufficient light. 
The room is damp, and shamefully neglected ; a layer of bricks does 
duty for flooring ; the dirty green plaster that replaces the marble inlays 
and tapestries on the walls has scaled off in many places. The visitor 

^ Early in June, 1497, Lodovico wrote to one of his agents, telling him to urge 
Leonardo the Florentine to finish his work for the refectory of Santa Maria, and then to 
take the decoration of the opposite wall in hand. It would be well, added the Prince, to 
refer with him to the articles he signed, by which he engaged to finish it within a term 
specified by himself. {Archivio storico lombardo, 1874, p. 484.)— Cf. Miiller-Walde, 
Jahrbuch der kg. Kufisisammlungen, 1898, p. 11 4-1 15. — Leonardo's friend, Luca Pacioli, 
speaks of the Last Supper as completely finished in his Divina Proportioned concluded in 
December, 1497. 



"THE LAST SUPPER" 179 

finds himself suddenly before the masterpiece ot Leonardo and of 
modern painting, without any of that preparation the mind receives by 
approaching a work of art set in fit surroundings. The composition is 
painted on the end wall ; it fills the entire width, and is thus naturally 
enframed at either end by the return of the wall, and above, by the two 
little vaults. 

Leonardo, as I have already said, disliked working in fresco. It is 
a process demanding a decision and rapidity utterly opposed to his 
methods. He accordingly used oil-colour, which, in addition to its 
other merits, had the charm of novelty to recommend it. 

Before examining his work in the refectory of Santa Maria delle 
Grazie, we must pass in review the Last Suppers by which it had been 
preceded. For terms of comparison I may take those by Giotto, 
Andrea del Castagno, Ghirlandajo, and the unknown painter of the 
monastery of Sant' Onofrio at Florence. 

As Burckhardt has well observed, representations of this sacred 
feast include two distinct motives, the institution of the Eucharist, and 
the solemn declaration made by Christ to his apostles : " Unus 
vestrum . . . ." one of you shall betray me. 

In Giotto's Last Supper, in the Arena Chapel at Padua, the disciples 
are placed all round the table, an arrangement which practically 
suppresses three of the number, their backs being turned to the 
spectator. By an arrangement no less curious — I refrain from applying 
the word comic, even to the oversight of such a master as Giotto — the 
haloes of these three are placed, not behind their heads, but in front of 
their faces, making it impossible for them to see what was happening 
before them. Action — of which Giotto was generally so lavish — there 
is none ; not a gesture, not a movement ; the disciples look inquiringly 
at one another. That is the whole drama, a very negative one, 
as we see. A fresco of the school of Giotto, in the cloister of 
Santa Croce at Florence, shows greater skill in the arrangement, 
and more animation. We note certain reminiscences of the triclinia 
of the ancients, and one very touching motive, the beloved disciple 
leaning his head on Jesus' breast — (" discipulus recumbens in sinu 
Jesu;" S. John xiii, 23). 

A work that comes much nearer to Leonardo's masterpiece, and 

A A 2 



[8o 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



is, in fact, its true prototype in many respects, is the Last Supper 
painted by the harsh and gloomy Andrea del Castagno in the refec- 
tory of the convent of Sant' Apollonia at Florence. The figures are 
placed in a setting ot severe architecture inlaid with marbles ; a 
monumental bench or seat surrounds the table. The personages gain 
greatly in vigour and in dignity by this arrangement of the back- 
ground. In the centre, Christ raises his hand in benediction ; beside 
him is the beloved disciple in the traditional attitude, his head leaning 
on the table ; opposite is Judas, startled and trembling. One of the 



K 




LODOVICO 



ilORO GRANTING A CHARTER TO THE PRIOR OF SANTA MARIA DF.I.LE GRAZIE. 

iNTiiiiature from the collection of the Marquis of Adda at Milan.) 



Other disciples — the prototype of the third apostle from the end on the 
right in Leonardo's painting — opens his hands, as if in amazement, 
while one of his neighbours clenches his ; a third drops his head on 
his hand, as if bowed down by the fatal discovery ; others whisper 
their suspicions to one another, or ponder over the matter in silence. 
The action is of the liveliest ; it abounds in life-like traits, and bears 
witness to rare faculties of observation. The figures themselves are 
grave, austere, almost grandiose. It is the composition which is the 
weak spot in this important work, a work that was undoubtedly known 
to Leonardo, for he imitated it. Andrea has isolated the actors, in- 



i82 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

Stead of welding them together in harmonious groups ; and has thus 
sacrificed both variety of line and richness of combination. In spite 
of this, his fresco, a work too little known, is the one that comes nearest 
to Leonardo's masterpiece. 

With Domenico Ghirlandajo's fresco, in the convent of San Marco 
at Florence, we return to the vagaries of the Primitives. The group- 
ing is faulty to a degree. The apostles at the end of the table are 
huddled together, those near Jesus are too far apart ; the stooping 
figure of S. John leaves an unpleasant void in the composition, which 
Judas, who is placed opposite, on the outside of the table, fills but im- 
perfectly. The general lack of animation and unity aggravates this 
initial fault ; the majority of the apostles know not what to think, still 
less what to say. One clasps his hands and raises his eyes to heaven ; 
another throws back the folds of his toga with an unmeaning gesture ; 
not one among them shows any vigour, not to say eloquence. Ghir- 
landajo, indeed, seems to have depicted the institution of the Eucharist 
(" Dispono vobis sicut ....") rather than the revelation of Judas' 
treachery. 

A Last Slipper contemporary with Leonardo's adorns the refectory 
of the monastery of Sant' Onofrio at Florence. Certain accomplished 
critics, M. Vitet among the number, have attributed it to Raphael, but 
on insufficient grounds. It is a timid work, and but for the youth- 
ful grace of expression in some of the heads, one might describe it as 
childish, so naively does the painter's inexperience betray itself in 
the dramatic conception of the subject. The beloved apostle, his head 
on the table, appears to be sleeping ; thus one actor disappears ; 
another pours himself out some wine ; the rest look calmly in front of 
them. As to Judas, he is placed, as usual, on the near side of the table, 
opposite to Jesus. We look in vain for men who show traces of 
astonishment, indignation, or grief; all we see are personages — and 
even this is almost too emphatic a term for them — without elevation 
and without character. I pass over the other faults of the composi- 
tion, the absence of grouping, the distraction caused by the portrayal 
of the subordinate incident in the background — Christ on the Mount 
of Olives — the introduction of movable discs, detaching themselves 
in the most puerile fashion on the chancel enframing the principal 



VIII • 
" The Last Supper." 

(kKI-KCIOUV ok SANTA MA1;1A DKI.LI' GKAZIF, MII-AN. 



"THE LAST SUPPER" 183 

picture. In short, it is only too evident that we need not seek either 
prototype or pendant for the miracle of Santa Maria delle Grazie in 
this feeble work. 

In his religious compositions, Leonardo, it must be admitted, was 
given to straying a little from his theme. The Virgin of the Rocks, 
the Adoration of the Magi, the John the Baptist, astonish and charm 
us beyond measure ; but they hardly tend to edify us in the same 
degree. In his Last Stipper, on the other hand, the master attacked 
the problem from the front, without circumlocution or subterfuge, 
determined to restrict himself to the gospel story, and to look to the 
subject itself for all it could offer. Hence it is that the painting in 
Santa Maria delle Grazie may be classed with Raphael's cartoons, 
as a work breathing forth the purest evangelic spirit, a work before 
which believers of every creed love to meditate, and in admiration of 
which they find a stimulus to faith. 

No picture was ever lingered over more lovingly. It had matured 
in the artist's mind long before his hand began to translate the image 
engraven on his brain. Leonardo thought of it day and night ; he 
rigorously applied this maxim of the Trattato delta Pittura (cap. 
xvii.) : " It is useful to go over in one's mind at night the things one 
has studied. I have also found it very useful," he adds, " when in 
bed, in the silence of the night, to recall the ideas of things one has 
studied and drawn, to retrace the contours of the figures that demand 
most reflection and application. By this means, the images of objects 
become more vivid, the impression they have made is fortified, and 
rendered more permanent." So great was his power of evocation, 
that when absent from his work, he suddenly saw the features, the 
characteristics required for such and such figures. Eager to fix the 
image that was in his mind, he would run in haste to the refectory to 
make the necessary corrections, and then return to his business or his 
walk. The anecdote told in this connection by Matteo Bandello, the 
skilful bishop-diplomatist, and licentious author of the Novelle, is very 
instructive : " In the time of Lodovico Sforza Visconti, Duke of Milan, 
certain gentlemen, visiting Santa Maria delle Grazie, the monastery of 
the Dominican friars, stood motionless in contemplation before the 
marvellous and celebrated Last Supper, on which the excellent 



1 84 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



Florentine painter, Leonardo da Vinci, was then working. The 
artist took pleasure in hearing each one freely express his opinion of 
the work. It was his habit, as I myself was witness on several 
occasions, to mount the scaffolding before it (for the painting is at 
some considerable height above the ground) and to remain, brush in 
hand, from sunrise to sunset, forgetting to eat and drink, and painting 
without intermission. Sometimes, after this, he would be three or 
four days together without touching it, and yet he would stay before 




^^^^'-^^¥^^W^^^^^^^ ^^^^^^ 




THE LAST SUPPEU, liY ANDREA DEL CASTAGN 

(Convent of S. ApoUonia at Florence ) 



it an hour or two every day, contemplating it, considering and ex- 
amining the figures he had created. I have also seen him, following 
the dictates of fancy or of eccentricity, start off at midday, when the 
sun was in the sign of the Lion, from the Corte Vecchia, where he was 
modelling his marvellous equestrian statue, and go straight to the 
monastery, where, mounting the scaffold, he would seize his brush, 
give a touch or two to one of the figures, and then depart and go 



u 



elsewhere." ^ 

Leonardo seems to draw upon his own experience in a passage of the Trattato della 
Pitiura (cap. Ivi.) in which he says : " Do not act after the manner of some painters, who, 
finding their imagination fatigued, leave their work, and take exercise by walking ; they 
carry away with them a weariness of mind that prevents them from seeing or hearing the 
friends and relatives they meet." ... Is there not a striking analogy between this 
passage and Bandello's anecdote ? 



"THE LAST SUPPER" 



185 



" Cardinal de Giirck was lodged at the Monastery delle Grazie at the 
time ; ^ he entered the refectory at the moment when the gentlemen 
in question were assembled before the painting. As soon as Leonardo 
perceived him, he came down to pay his respects to him, and the 
prelate received him graciously, and loaded him with praise. Many 
subjects were discussed, notably the excellence of the painting ; several 
of those present expressed regret that none of the ancient pictures so 
highly extolled by classic writers had survived, that we might decide 




FIRST IDEA FOR THE LAST SUITER. 

(Accademia, Venice.) 



whether the masters of our time were equal to those of antiquity. 
The cardinal asked the painter what salary the Duke gave him. 
Leonardo replied that his regular pay was 2,000 ducats, apart from the 
gifts and presents the Duke continually lavished on him with the 
greatest munificence. The cardinal said it was a great deal. After he 
had quitted the refectory, Leonardo began to tell the assembled gentle- 
men a pretty story, showing how great painters have been honoured in 
all ages, and I, being present during his discourse, made a note of it in 

^ Cardinal de Gurck visited Milan in January, 1497, and lodged at the monastery. 
Signor Uzielli infers that the Last Supper was finished by then. {Leonardo da Vbici e fre 
Gentildo7i7ie milanesi del Secolo xv., p. 5.) 



i86 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

my memory, and had it present In my mind when I began to write my 
Noveller 

Tradition says the Prior tormented Leonardo unceasingly to get the 
painting finished promptly. " This simple person could in no way 
comprehend," says Vasari, " wherefore the artist should sometimes 
remain half a day together absorbed in thought before his work, 
without making any progress that he could see ; he would have had him 
work away as did the men who were digging in his garden, never 
laying the brush aside. Nay, more ; he went and complained to the 
Duke, and with such importunity, that the latter was at length 
compelled to send for Leonardo. Lodovico very adroitly exhorted 
Leonardo to finish the work, taking care to let it be seen that he had 
only acted on the solicitations of the Prior. Leonardo, knowing the 
prince to be intelligent and judicious, discoursed with him at some 
length on the matter, talking of art, and making him understand that 
men of genius are sometimes producing most when they seem to be 
labouring least, their minds being occupied in invention, and in the 
formation of those perfect conceptions to which they afterwards give 
form and expression with the hand. He added that he still had two 
heads to execute : that of Christ, which he could not hope to find on 
earth, and yet had not attained the power of presenting to himself in 
imagination, with that perfection of beauty and of celestial grace 
proper to the Godhead incarnate ; and that of Judas, which also gave 
him much anxiety, since he could not imagine a form by which to 
render the countenance of a man, who, after so many benefits received, 
had a heart so base as to be capable of betraying his Lord, and the 
Creator of the world. With regard to the second, however, he would 
continue to make search ; and, after all, if he could find no better, he 
might always make use of the head of that indiscreet and importunate 
Prior. This last touch made the Duke laugh heartily ; he declared 
Leonardo to be completely in the right; and the poor Prior, utterly 
confounded, henceforth occupied himself in overlooking the workers in 
his garden, and left Leonardo in peace." We know, however, that 
Lodovico was at last obliged himself to press the over-fastidious artist. 
On June 30, 1497, he ordered one of his agents "to beg Leonardo 
the Florentine to finish his work in the refectory of Santa Maria 



9 
Study for the Head of an Apostle. 

(WINDSOR LIBRARY ) 




Printed by Draeger, Pari; 



STUDIES FOR THE "LAST SUPPER" 187 

delle Grazie." " The master finished the Virgin (this is a sHp of 
Vasari's, for there is no Virgin in the Last Supper) and Judas, a 
perfect type of treachery and cruelty. As to the head of Christ, he 
left it unfinished. 

Another sixteenth century writer, the Milanese Lomazzo, has 
completed Vasari's story by explaining why Leonardo left the head of 
the principal figure unfinished. After endowing the two saints, James 
the Greater and the Less, with the beauty we still admire, even in the 
ruin to which the Cenacolo is reduced, Leonardo, despairing of render- 
ing the head of Christ in accordance with his ideal, took counsel with 
his old friend Zenale, who made this memorable speech to him : 
" Leonardo, the fault thou hast committed is one of which God only 
can absolve thee. It is of a truth impossible to conceive of faces more 
lovely and gentle than those of S. James the Greater and S. James 
the Less. Accept thy misfortune, therefore, and leave thy Christ 
imperfect as he is, for otherwise, when compared with the apostles, 
he would not be their Saviour or their Master." Leonardo took 
his advice, and this is why the head of Christ was left a mere 
sketch. 1 

The drawings for the Last S2tpper are few in number, and 
yet its process of evolution, as everything tends to show, was 
laborious in the extreme. I will mention one study only for the 
general arrangement, a sketch in the Louvre, which shows us four 
persons seated at table ; one seems to be accusing another, with 
outstretched finger ; the accused meets the accuser's gaze steadily ; 
the two others listen unHinchingly ; a fifth mounts on the table as 
if to protest. 

In a drawing in red chalk in the Accademia at Venice, a mediocre, 
yet perfectly genuine work, the composition is more vivacious and less 
rhythmical than in the painting. Judas is seated at the outer side of 
the table ; the beloved disciple rests his head on the cloth, making a 
vacuum in the grouping, the others gesticulate and declaim.. The 
apostle last but one on the right is the only one to undergo little, if any 
modification. As to the Saviour himself, his face and attitude are alike 

^ Does not this incident recall the story of Timanthes, who, despairing of rendering the 
grief of Agamemnon at the sacrifice of Iphigenia, veiled his face ? 

li B 2 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



unremarkable. A little lower down is a study of Christ seated, his 
left hand outstretched, the first finger pointing to a dish, his right 
laid upon his breast with a somewhat theatrical gesture. We may 
mention that both in his studies for the Adoration of the Magi and 
for the Last Sii-pper, Leonardo drew his figures naked, in order to 
observe the play of movements, just as he drew nearly all the 
apostles without beards, the better to note the play of facial expres- 
sion. This sketch 
shows through how 
many stages the com- 
position passed before 
completion. 

These drawings are 
followed by notes, in 
which Leonardo indi- 
cates the attitude he 
intends to give to each 
apostle : " One, in the 
act of drinking, puts 
down his glass, and 
turns his head to the 
speaker ; another, twist- 
ing his fingers together, 
turns to his companion, 
knitting his eyebrows ; 
another, opening his 
hands, and turning the 
palms towards the spectator, shrugs his sholders, his mouth ex- 
pressing the liveliest surprise ; another whispers in the ear of a 
companion, who turns to listen, holding in one hand a knife, and in 
the other the loaf he has cut in two ; another, turning with a knife in 
his hand, upsets a glass upon the table ; another rests his hands upon 
the table, and looks ; another, gasps in amazement ; another leans 
forward to look at the speaker, shading his eyes with his hand ; 
another, drawing back behind the one who leans forward, looks into 
the space between the wall and the stooping disciple." 





T"^. ~, 


; % 


w^^^^^ *^-M^^mKMM 




: '^ » 1 



STUDY FOR THE HEAD OF JUDAS. 

(Windsor Library.) 



STUDIES FOR "THE LAST SUPPER" 



189 



Comparing this project with the painting, we see that, as at first 
conceived, the Last Supper contained a number of reahstic motives, 
perhaps rather over-famiHar for so solemn a theme. As he pro- 
gressed, the artist gradually abandoned them. Thus, he suppressed 
the gesture by which one of the apostles put down the glass from 
which he had begun to drink, and the gesture of the apostle holding 
a loaf he had cut in two. Of the two knives spoken of in the note. 



f Jpj|r ^^H^H 




\ 


'i^wA 




i 






m>. 



STUDY FOR THE ARM OF S. PETER. 

(Windsor Library.) 



only one appears in the painting, in the hand of S. Peter. There 
is no apostle shading his eyes with his hand, either. In short, the 
action, though less lively and dramatic, becomes more imposing, and 
gains in elevation, 

A drawing in the Windsor Library, in which a disciple shades his 
eyes with his hand, is undoubtedly connected with this design. It 
further contains S. John, his head on the tablecloth, and another 
apostle who approaches Jesus with a reverent inclination of the body. 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 

Leonardo, we must conclude, had for a time some thought of 
representing the institution of the Eucharist, a theme often treated 
by the Byzantines, and one which Justus of Ghent had ilkis- 
trated a year or two before in a picture he painted for the Duke of 
Urbino. 

A sketch on the same sheet, the intention of which it is difficult 
to seize, shows a group often persons at table, and Judas placed alone 
on the opposite side, as if he were already excluded from intercourse 
with the other disciples. A little later Leonardo broke away from 
tradition on this point. Instead of following the example of his 
predecessors and isolating Judas on one side of the table, like a 
diseased sheep, he conceived the more dramatic idea of placing him 
side by side with his victim ; from this proximity he evolved a motive of 
the most poignant mimetic expression : the explosion of surprise and 
indignation among the disciples at the Master's revelation of the 
treachery among them. 

We may sum up by saying that the primitive conception of the 
scene was more or less violent ; the master gradually tempered and 
disciplined his action, and it is the expression of condensed and latent 
power in his final rendering to which he owes his most brilliant 
triumph. 

Sketches for single figures follow on those for the composition as a 
whole. The majority are in the royal collection at Windsor. I may 
first call attention to a study in red chalk for the head of the apostle on 
the extreme left ; the beard is as yet short and slight (no. 8) ; another 
drawing in the same medium (no. 9), a head in profile to the right, is a 
study for the beardless apostle on the right, the third from the end, who 
holds out both hands towards the Saviour, (There are also certain 
points of resemblance here to the apostle on the extreme left of the 
composition.) The red chalk drawing (no. 10) is a beardless head in 
profile to the right ; it is for one of the apostles on the left. No. 1 1 is 
apparently the same head, rather older. The attitude is identical with 
that of Judas in the painting, and there can be little doubt that this 
study was the master's first thought for this justly famous type. A 
drawing in black chalk (no. 1 7) is another head, of an energetic 
cast, in profile to the right, with crisp, curling hair, and a short 



IX 
Study for the Head of Christ. 

•{the I'.KIKA, Alii AN.) 




Pnnlcd b^. WiUrnann Pans (Fr, 



"THE LAST SUPPER" 191 

beard. It is for the apostle last, or last but one, on the right. The 
master, as we see by these various examples, ^ experimented as 
freely in his choice of types as in the general arrangement of his 
composition. 

Various critics have attempted to identify the twelve disciples ; 
but save in the cases of three or four, their conjectures seem to 
have been pure hypothesis. Leonardo himself noted the names of 
each person on the red chalk drawing in the Accademia at Venice ; 
but he only introduced one or two of these figures in the painting 
itself.2 

The perfection of grouping achieved in the Last Supper would of 
itself be sufficient to mark an epoch in the annals of painting. Its ease 
and rhythm are indescribable, The figures, placed on two planes in 
perspective, are further arranged in groups of three, with the exception 
of Christ, who, isolated in the centre, dominates the action. Eight of 
the apostles are in profile, three three-quarters to the front ; Jesus and 
S. John face the spectator. The skill and knowledge necessary to 
bring these trios of heads into relation one with another, to animate the 
groups without destroying their balance, to vary the lines without 
detracting from their harmony, and finally to connect the various 
groups, were so tremendous, that neither reasoning nor calculation 
could have solved a problem so intricate ; but for a sort of divine 
inspiration, the most gifted artist would have failed. I may add that 
the most perfect sense of line and mass would have proved insufficient 
without an equally perfect knowledge of chiaroscuro and of aerial 
perspective, for some of the juxtapositions — that, for instance, of the 

^ The drawings in the Grand Ducal collection at Weimar (heads of apostles), I take 
to be, not studies for the Last Supper, but drawings made from it, and, consequently, not 
by Leonardo's hand. They are the subject of an article by B. Stark in the Deutsches 
Kunstblatt oi 1852 and of articles by Messrs. Frizzoni, Dehio, etc., and are said to have 
come from the Arconati collection, whence they passed into that of the Zeni family, of 
Venice. They were bought by the English Consul, Outry, and crossing the Channel, 
successively formed part of the Lawrence and of the Woodburn collections, before they 
were bought by the King of Holland. 

2 The following are the names adopted by Bossi : To the right of Christ, starting 
from the centre : S. John, Judas, SS. Peter, Andrew, James the Less, and Bartholomew ; 
to the left (also from the centre) : S. James the Greater, throwing out his arms as if in 
amazement, SS. Thomas, Philip, Matthew, Thaddeus, and Simon. Note that these 
identifications are the same as those inscribed on the old copy at Ponte Capriasco. 



192 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



head facing three quarters to the front, reHeved against a head in 

profile — are too daring to have been successfully attempted by means 

of mere draughtsmanship or linear perspective. 

The way was opened at last ; Raphael was not slow to follow in 

the footsteps of Leonardo the pioneer, whose worthy rival he proved 

himself, first in the 
Dispute of the Sacra- 
ment, and afterwards in 
the School of Athens. 

The anecdotes re- 
lated by Bandello, 
Vasari, and Lomazzo 
might lead us to sup- 
pose that Leonardo in- 
troduced portraits in the 
Last Stippcr. But this 
was not the case. The 
master, no doubt, relied 
to some extent on living 
models for the general 
lines of his types ; but 
he was too complete an 
idealist to content him- 
self with what he looked 

STUDY FOR Till.; HEAD f)F S. MATTHEW. 

(Windsor Library. upon as the first por- 

tion only of his task, a 
work of preparation. Hence, with the exception of two or three 
types, in which certain popular traits are noticeable, all the heads 
have been subjected to a long and elaborate process of assimilation 
and arrangement, with the result that we see before us, not mere 
representatives of the Milanese race, but citizens of the world. Nor 
did Leonardo lay his predecessors under contribution ; there is only 
one head, perhaps, that of the second apostle from the end on the 
right (S. Thaddeus), with its marked Semitic type and floating hair, 
which recalls some model of the school of Giotto or of Siena. 

The dominant notes in all these faces are virility, breadth, gravity. 




THE LAST SUPPER" 



193 



conviction. They indicate free and upright natures, men who have a 
perfect consciousness of their feehngs, and are ready to accept the 
responsibiHty for their actions. Energy and loyalty are stamped on 
every feature. The master has given a great variety of types. (I am 
speaking less of physical differences, such as the crisp, waving, or 
curly hair of the various heads, than of moral divergencies.) In some, 
plain fishermen trans- 
formed into missionaries, 
he has preserved the 
rudeness proper to their 
former calling. Of this 
class is the apostle to 
the left of Jesus, who 
extends his arms and 
opens his mouth to ex- 
press his stupefaction. 
To others — as, for in- 
stance, the old man with 
a long beard on the left, 
he has given a patri- 
archal majesty; to others 
again — such as the be- 
loved disciple and S. 
Philip — the sweetness of 
the " quattrocento " ado- 
lescent, with the resig- 
nation of the Christian convert. Judas, with his hooked nose, his bold 
forehead, his admirably defined silhouette, is a perfect type of the 
malefactor. It would be impossible to imagine anything more 
dramatic than these contrasts. 

How little affinity was there between such a conception and the 
delicate refinements and elegances of II Moro's Court! What power 
and vigour breathe from these actors in a drama which, overflowing the 
boundaries of its narrow Milanese environment, has thrilled humanity 
for four centuries ! 

If we turn to expression and gesture, we must again do homage to 

c c 




STUDY FOR THE HEAD OF S. 

(Windsor Library.) 



194 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

the master's extraordinary perception of dramatic effect. The Saviour 
has just uttered the fateful words : " One of you shall betray me," with 
sublime resignation. In a moment, as by an electric shock, he has 
excited the most diverse emotions among the disciples, according to 
the character of each. One rises, as if asking his Master to repeat the 
accusation, for as yet he can scarcely believe his ears ; another 
shudders in horror ; those who are placed farther from Jesus com- 
municate their impressions one to another ; S. James the Greater 
stretches out his arms as if in amazement ; S. Thomas, his forefinger 
uplifted, threatens the unknown traitor ; S. Philip, rising, and laying 
both hands on his breast, cries in anguish : " Master, is it I ? " Doubt, 
surprise, distrust, indignation, are manifested by ineffable traits. Souls 
vibrate in unison, from one end of the table to the other. But it was 
necessary to mingle lighter notes in the epic concert, in order to 
emphasise this outburst of generous feeling. Judas, leaning comfort- 
ably on his elbow, the money-bag in his right hand, his left opening as 
if involuntarily when he hears his treachery unmasked, is the personifi- 
cation of the hardened villain, who has justified his crime in his own 
mind, and is bent on carrying it through to the end. S. John, his head 
bowed, his clasped hands on the table, is a perfect type of supreme 
devotion, gentleness, and faith. 

Inspiration, or the most prodigious experimental knowledge, which- 
ever term we may elect to use — and, in Leonardo's case, it is difficult 
to say which would be the more exact — is apparent even in the details 
generally sacrificed by the most famous artists. " Looking at the 
hands alone," says Burckhardt, " we feel as if painting had slumbered 
hitherto, and had suddenly awakened." Since the time of Giotto, the 
great dramatist, no such important attempt to translate the passions of 
the soul by means of gesture had been made. Leonardo, indeed, does 
not make us hear the cries of mothers, whose infants have been torn 
from them by Herod's executioners, or of the damned, tormented by 
demons in hell. His subject demanded treatment less violent than 
these. But with what consummate art he renders all the intricacies of 
feeling! How full of delicate gradation and reticence is his pantomime, 
entirely free though it is from artificiality ! How fully we feel the artist's 
mastery of his subject, nay, more, his perfect participation in the 



X 

Head of S. Johi. An Early Copy fro7n " The Last 
Supper.' 

(WEIMAR MUSKUM.) 




Printed by Wlttmann Par.s (France) 



BLENDING OF IDEALISM AND REALISM i95 

sentiments with which he endows his characters ! For the Last Supper 
is more than a miracle of art. Leonardo's heart and soul had as great 
a part in it as his imagination and his intellect. Without such partici- 
pation, can any work of art live ? ^ 

While affirming the principles of idealism throughout the whole of 
his work, Leonardo has nevertheless endeavoured to give his composi- 
tion all the appearance of reality. Fearing to fall into abstraction, he 
has multiplied the details that give an illusion of life. With what care 
he has painted all the accessories of the frugal banquet ! The table is 
laid with dishes, bowls, bottles, glasses that give an opportunity for the 
play of varied light, rolls of bread, fruit — pears and apples, some with 
a leaf still clinging to the stalk. Making a concession to the conven- 
tions of his day, he has not forgotten the salt-cellar overturned by 
Judas. He has treated the table-cloth itself with the utmost care, 
marking the folds of the damask, the pattern at the ends, the four 
knotted corners. It Is to this minute observation, which a modern 
master of style would despise, and which Leonardo had learnt from 
the Primitives, that the picture owes its convincing quality. It 
was because he had gauged and probed the mass of detail 
Involved In such a problem to its depths, that Leonardo was able 
to simplify and to condense when necessary, without becoming merely 
declamatory. 

The mise-en-scene increases the Illusion, besides adding greatly to 
the effect of the composition. It is a large room, extremely simple 
in line ; the walls to right and left are decorated with four panels of 

^ In the Trattato della Fittura, cap. 368, et seq., Leonardo the theorist has 
formulated the rules applied by Leonardo the painter in the Last Supper : 

" How the arms and hands should reveal the intention of the actor in every movement. 
The arms and hands should manifest the actor's intention as far as possible ; he vs'ho 
feels keenly constantly uses them to enforce what his soul would express. When good 
orators wish to persuade those who listen to them, they always have recourse to their 
arms and hands to emphasise their words. True, there are fools who despise this 
resource. Seeing them in the tribune, we might suppose them to be wooden statues, 
through whose mouths the voice of some speaker hidden behind passes. This is a grave 
defect in real persons, still graver in those represented by art. For if their author does 
not give them lively gestures, corresponding to their parts, they are doubly dead, firstly 
because they have no life in reality, and secondly, because their attitude is lifeless. But 
to return to our subject : I shall treat below of certain motions of the soul, namely, 
of anger, pain, fear, sudden terror, grief, flight or precipitation, authority, sloth, 
diligence, &c." 

C C 2 



196 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



brownish tapestry, of a very simple pattern, enframed in mouldings 
of white stone. The wall at the end is broken by three square- 
headed windows, the central one surmounted by a semi-circular 
pediment ; through these windows we see an undulating landscape, 
with scattered buildings, and distant blue mountains. An open 
timbered ceiling completes the architecture of the room, which 
has a monumental aspect, in spite of its severity. There is not 




THE LAST SUPPER. 



(in its present state.) 



an ornament, not a fragment of sculpture, to divert attention from 
the action. 

Leonardo was undoubtedly the advocate of a rigorous delimitation 
in the various branches of art. It would be difficult otherwise to 
explain why he, familiar as he was with all the laws of architecture, 
should have excluded from his pictures those architectural back- 
grounds and views of buildings so admirably calculated to enhance 
their effect. Perhaps no other artist, with the exception of Brunel- 
lesco, Piero della Francesca, and Mantegna, had worked out the laws 



ARCHITECTURAL BACKGROUNDS IN ART 



197 



of linear perspective with equal ardour. It would, therefore, have 
been easy for him to have brought the various planes of his composi- 
tions into relief by the introduction of buildings. But the only works 
in which we find him making use of this artifice are the Last Supper 
and the cartoon for the Adoration of the Magi ; in the latter, only for 
the background. To this artistic scruple, Leonardo's easel pictures 
no doubt owe much of their freedom; but, on the other hand, it has 




"the last supper." right side, (in its present state.) 



deprived them of many beauties. It is evident that the innumerable 
devices of linear perspective, the art of bringing figures, buildings, and 
ornament into relief by their inter-relation, enabled Mantegna to give 
to decorative painting a vigour, a wealth of combination, unknown 
before his time ; that the progress thus achieved was carried further 
still by the Venetians, notably by Paolo Veronese, the successor of 
Mantegna in this domain ; and that it was finally brought to perfection 
in the seventeenth century by the great Rubens, in his turn the 
artistic offspring of Veronese. Leonardo, however, seems to have 



198 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

had too deep a veneration for the human form to subordinate it to 
the exigencies of any architect, even such an architect as his rival 
Bramante.^ 

The Last Siippei^ has undergone so many sacrilegious mutilations 
that it is, unhappily, no longer possible to judge of its technical quality. 
I must be content to say that the general tone was limpid, sunny, and 
exquisitely delicate. The master made use of simple tones only, but 
these he varied agreeably. Most of the figures wear a red robe and a 
blue mantle, or " vice versa ; " but among these we note yellow tunics, 
green mantles, green tunics, mantles of yellowish brown, a purplish 
tunic and mantle, and here and there, a yellowish band or border, to 
relieve them. The costumes themselves are extremely simple, as we 
may suppose those of Christ and his disciples to have been. They 
consist of a toga, or rather tunic, with closely fitting sleeves, but 
loose at the neck, and leaving the throat bare ; over this is thrown 
a full, flowing cloak ; an uncut precious stone sometimes takes 
the place of a brooch or fibula, and the bare feet are cased in 
sandals. Despite this severity, the draperies are cast with con- 
summate knowledge and perfection. Those of the Saviour are 
especially ample and majestic. The tunic is displayed on the 
right breast and shoulder, and the mantle is draped from the left 
shoulder across the body, enveloping all the rest of the figure in 
its folds. 

In the Last Shipper of the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, 
painting triumphs over the final difficulties, resolves the final problems 
of aesthetics and of technique. Leonardo had realised his ideal, 
whether we judge of his work by its arrangement of line and mass, 
its colour, its movement, its treatment of drapery, or its dramatic ex- 
pression. Alas ! the master's triumph was short-lived. Incalculable 
disasters were soon to burst upon his protector and his fellow-citizens. 
But let us not anticipate events. For a moment, we may linger in 

1 Leonardo protests against exuberance of ornament in the Trattato delta Pittura 
(cap. 182) : " In historical compositions," he says, " do not add to the figures and other 
objects ornaments so numerous that they injure the form and attitude of the figures, and 
the reality (' I'essentia') of the objects." 



IMITATIONS OF "THE LAST SUPPER" 199 

delighted contemplation of Leonardo's masterpiece in all the plenitude 
of its splendour.^ 

Innumerable copies, Italian, French, Flemish, and German, attest 
the admiration excited by the work. One of Leonardo's pupils, Marco 
d'Oggiono, made a sort of speciality of reproductions of the Last 
Supper ; others copied it in tapestry, marble, and metal. Raphael was 
inspired by it in a drawing now in the Albertina : the apostle who 
presses his hands against his breast as if protesting his innocence, was 
obviously suggested by Leonardo's composition, though the figure falls 
far short of its prototype. Indeed, the work throughout is summary; 
the groups are ill distributed, as compared with the rich and varied 
arrangement of Leonardo's masses ; rhythm and vigour are alike 
wanting. The Christ is insignificant, and lacking in majesty. The 
two most satisfactory figures are those of the disciples on either side of 
the Saviour, questioning him, their hands on their hearts. We cannot 
but feel that where Leonardo triumphed, even a Raphael could not 
compete with him. A little later, Andrea del Sarto paid his tribute of 
admiration to Leonardo in his fresco at San Salvi, as did Holbein in 
his picture in the Basle Museum. 

But the superiority of the Last Supper at Milan was incontestable. 

1 The Last Supper underwent innumerable vicissitudes. Louis XII. was so struck 
by its beauty that he determined to remove it to France. He sought everywhere for 
architects who would undertake to construct a framework of wooden or iron battens by 
means of which it might be taken from the wall without accident, and shrank from no 
expense, so great was his desire to possess it. But as the painting adhered obstinately to 
the wall, " His Majesty, according to the testimony of Paolo Giovio and of Vasari, was 
obliged to carry his desires away with him, and to leave the painting to the Milanese." The 
process of which Leonardo had made use was so defective that three parts of the work 
may be said to have been destroyed by the middle of the sixteenth century. Vasari, who 
saw it in 1566, laments the ruin to which it was already reduced, as does also Lomazzo. 
In 1652, the incredible atrocity was perpetrated, by which the legs of the figures were cut 
away to make a door ! In 1726, the work was restored, or'rather re-painted, by Bellotto ; 
in 1770, by Mazzo ; and it was probably subjected to the desecration of some miserable 
dauber of our own century. During the Revolution, the refectory was converted into a 
forage store and stable ! For the various restorations the painting has undergone, see 
Bossi's Del Cenacolo di Leonardo da F/«« (Milan, 1810), and Stendhal's jQ^/^/^/r^ de la 
Peinture en Ltalie, ed. 1868, p. 1 50-1 51. 

Leonardo further painted portraits of Lodovico il Moro, wiih his eldest son Maximilian^ 
and of Beatrice, with her second son, Francesco, in the refectory of Santa Maria delle 
Grazie, on either side of Montorfano's Crucifixion. Vasari, who has been unjustly accused 
of not having appreciated the genius of his illustrious countryman, speaks of these 
portraits as truly sublime. (See p. 95.) 



200 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

No artist might henceforth wholly escape its fascination, though none 
could attain to its perfection. 

On several occasions Leonardo was employed on the decoration of 
the ducal residences. 

He worked principally in the famous " Castello di Porta Giovia " 
(Gate of Jupiter, now the Vercelli Gate), in which the Visconti had 




" THE LAST SUPPER." LEFT SIDE. (iN ITS PHESENT STATE.) 

collected so many treasures. Destroyed in the revolution of 1447, it 
was rebuilt by the Sforzi on a more magnificent scale than before, 
only to be given over again to pillage. In our own times, it was 
converted into a barrack, and was used as such till its restoration 
was determined. The task of transforming this venerable monu- 
ment into a central museum worthy of the city of Milan has 
fortunately been entrusted to the eminent architect, Signor Luca 
Beltrami. 

I may here say a few words concerning this famous building, 



XI 



Study for '* The Madonna Litta. 



(the louvre.) 







^"■■^ 



V 



« 



u 



V.-^ V 



V 



bj V/,un.arn Par 



THE CASTLE OF MILAN 201 

which played so great a part in the history of the Sforzi, and of 
Leonardo.^ 

Somewhat irregular in construction, the main fa9ade, on the Piazza 
d'Armi, is flanked at either end by a massive tower of freestone. Brick 
is the material mainly used throughout the rest of the building. The 
machicolated walls are pierced by windows, some pointed, some square- 
headed. The interior, which is terribly mutilated, consists of gigantic 




THE LAST SUPPER. 



RIGHT SIDE, (in ITS PRESENT STATE.) 



but somewhat gloomy halls, which were converted into stables at 
one time, and small, elegantly proportioned rooms. Semicircular arches, 
springing from massive monolithic columns, their plinths still preserving 
the Romanesque imprint in places, coincide with the architraves, which 
rest on slender pillars. The capitals, many of which are very richly orna- 
mented, are adorned with armorial shields, and devices. Here and there, 
we find windows decorated with terra cottas, vases of flowers, etc ; but in 

1 The history of the Castle has been written by Signor Casati {Vuende edilizie del 
Castello di Milano, Milan, 1876) and by Signor Beltrami (// Castello di Milano, Milan, 
1894. — Resoconto dei Lavori di restauro esequiti al Castello di Milano, Milan, 1898.) 

D D 



202 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

general, beauty seems to have been sacrificed to the exigencies of defence. 
The employment of a variety of artists — Filarete, Benedetto Ferrini, 
Bramante, etc. — explains the irregularities of the plan. 

Several sketches and notes of Leonardo's show that he occupied 
himself with schemes for the modification of the defences, the moats, 
bastions, etc. Among his projects was one for replacing Filarete's 
tower by a kind of lighthouse, 150 metres high. We have also 
his plans for a pavilion and baths, to be built for the Duchess in 
the park.^ Not content with doing the work of architect and de- 
corator, he himself made the models for the eels' heads, from which 
hot and cold water was to fiow, and even gave minute instructions 
as to the proportions of each : three parts of hot water to one of 
cold. The date, 1492, written at some little distance from the 
plan of the baths, probably refers to the year of their construction. 

The discovery of some fragments of frescoes in several rooms 
of the Castle by Herr M tiller- Walde, has given rise to a good deal of 
discussion within the last two or three years. Leonardo has been 
suggested as the author of these decorations ; and indeed, in one of 
his letters to Lodovico, the master himself mentions his paintings 
in the " Camerini." ^ Here again his dilatoriness seems to have 
annoyed his protector. At any rate, in June, 1496, there was a question 
of some scandal caused by the painter engaged on the decoration of the 
" Camerini," in consequence of which the said painter was forced to 
withdraw. The Duke's secretary accordingly proposed to ask Perugino, 
then at Venice, to finish the work. In 1497 the Duke returned 
to the charge, and tried to persuade the authorities of Perugia to 

^ Beltrami, // Castello di Milano, p. 465-477. 

2 An autograph note records the details of some of the works in the Castello di Porta 
Giovia. They belong to tht; domain of the decorator rather than to that of the historical 
painter. This is the document in question : " The narrow gutter over the rooms, 30 lire ; 
the gutter below, each square compartment, 7 lire ; cost of blue, gold, ceruse, plaster, size, 
and glue, 3 lire ; time, three days ; histories (subjects) under these gutters, with their 
pilasters, 12 hre each; I reckon the outlay for enamel, blue, and other colours at \\ lire ; 
I reckon the days spent over the design, the little pilaster, etc., as five. Item for each 
little vault, 7 lire. . . . The cornice under the window, 6 soldi the ' braccia.' Item for 
24 Roman histories (i.e. classic subjects, perhaps grotesques), 10 lire," etc. . . . The 
modest sum claimed for this last item authorises the supposition that the painting consisted 
of small decorative motives, perhaps in camdieu (MS. H. of the Library of the Institut, 
fol. 129^°). 



FRESCOES IN THE CASTLE OF MILAN 203 

send him their famous fellow-citizen. In April, 1498, Leonardo 
was at work again in the "saletta negra," in accordance with the 
programme he had elaborated in concert with the chief engineer, 
Ambrogio Ferrario, and in the " camera grande delle asse, cioe, 
della torre." 

But to return to the recently-discovered frescoes. 

The " Sala del Tesoro," which occupies the ground-floor of the 
tower at the western angle of the Castle, contains a Mercury or Argus, 
the head of which has unfortunately disappeared.^ Around this figure 
is painted architecture in perspective, richly decorated with consoles, 
medallions, etc., and inscriptions : 

Quod deus abstulerat tot lumina reddidit Argo, 
Pervigil anguigerae servet ut arcis opes. 
Adulterinae abite claves. 

In one of the medallions is a thief, crouching down, his right hand 
in a chest ; near him, four judges, seated, one of them a bishop ; 
further off, the Duke of Milan, enthroned between two pages. Then 
two men, standing, one holding scales, the other, an executioner, 
preparing to carry out the sentence. The three lay judges, according 
to Herr Muller-Walde, recall the three figures on the left in Leonardo's 
cartoon for the Adoration of the Magi, in the UfBzi. A second 
medallion shows Mercury looking at the corpse of Argus. The figure 
of the god, says Herr M tiller- Walde, was the prototype of the Apollo 
in the little picture from the Moore collection, now in the Louvre ; 
it is of a pronounced Umbrian type. ^ 

But is it the work of Leonardo or of Bramante .'* The latter 
name was the one suggested to me the moment I looked at a 
photograph of the fresco. The precision of the contours, and an 
indescribable want of liberty, imagination, and fire, an indefinable 
archaism, certainly incline me to pronounce for the great architect, 

1 Beltrami, // Castello di Milano, p. 214-215. Cf. p. 197-198. — Miiller-WaJde : 
Jahrbuch der kg Kunstsammlungen, i897;p. 111-117. 

2 A very useless discussion, if the fresco is not by Leonardo, has been raised as to 
whether the central figure represented Mercury or Argus. {Jahrbuch der kg. Ktmstsamm- 
/ungen, 1897, p. 146 et setj. — Novato : La Perseveranza, 24 January, 1898. — Salomon; 
Reinach, La Chronique des Arts, 1898, p. 47. — D. Sant' Ambrogio : Lega lombarda, 4-5 ; 
February, 1898.) 



204 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



rather than for the great painter. This is also the opinion of Signor 
Beltrami, the distinguished Milanese architect and archaeologist, who 
has directed the restoration of the Castle with so much taste, and to 
whom I am indebted for the photograph here reproduced. My friend 
the Baron de Geymiiller, the devout and acute historian of Bramante, 
fully confirms it, and the author of the catalogue of the exhibition 
of Lombard Masters, held at the Burlington Fine Arts Club, London, 
in 1898, is no less emphatic in his support. We must not forget 

the inconsequences of 
which Herr Miiller- 
Walde is guilty. He 
attributes the sur- 
rounding medallions 
to Bramante, though 
he makes Leonardo 
the author of the 
Mercury. Is it likely 
that two masters, 
each so distinguished 
in his own line, would 
have collaborated on 
a purely decorative 
piece of work ? ^ 
Another room in 




THE CASTLE OF MILA> 



SIXTEENTH CENTURY DRAWIN 



the castle, the " Sab- 
etta Negra," is adorned with four couples of winged genii, finely 
developed in form, and distinguished by great freedom of movement, 
who are flying or running amidst a decoration of rich festoons. 
Here again, Herr Muller-Walde sees the hand of Leonardo, or at 
least, of one of his pupils. Signor Beltrami is more cautious. ^ For 

^ It is true that a microscopic drawing in the Codex Atlafiticus (fol. 94) — we give 
Herr M tiller- Walde all credit for having noted the fact — represents a man standing in 
the attitude of Praxiteles' Apollo Sauroctonos, a possible link between the antique 
marble and the fresco in the Castle at Milan. But can we infer from this that the fresco 
was painted by Leonardo ? We might as well affirm that Leonardo was the sculptor of 
the David, and not Michelangelo, because there is a sketch of the statue in a drawing by 
Leonardo in the British Museum. 

- // Castello di Milam, p. 700-703. 



XII 
The Madonna Litta: 

(the HERMH ACK. S, I'KTKR'ilU i«;.) 




by Geny-Gros Paris (F 



PORTRAITS BY LEONARDO 



205 




DESIGN FOR A LIGHTHOUSE, NETKODUCEU FKOM DR. RICHTEl 

(Vallardi Collection, the Louvre.) 



my own part, I am inclined to pronounce the painting a work of 
the second quarter of the sixteenth century, by some one belonging to 
the circle of the Campi, who was haunted by reminiscences of Luini. 

The decoration of the " Sala della Torre," or " delle Asse," which we 
know to have been undertaken by Leonardo, consists of a vast 
interlacement (one of the master's favourite motives), forming a kind 
of bower of branches of trees, and knots or bows. 

In addition to these mural decorations, Leonardo painted a certain 
number of easel pictures : a Nativity (which has disappeared), presented 
by II Moro to the Emperor of Germany, and several portraits.^ 

We have already men- 
tioned the portraits of 
Lodovico il Moro and 
Beatrice d'Este, painted 

opposite the Last Supper, [ ^|i[ij^^£-:^y"^y 

and long since destroyed. 
Let us now consider the 
portraits of nobles and 
ladies of II Moro's Court. 

Leonardo, as we know, 

made his ddbut at that Court as a singer and lute-player. We shall 

not, therefore, be surprised to find him humouring the caprices of 

his patron in his artistic capacity. He readily consented to paint 

' W\dXi.Q.%\, Documenti inediti riguardanti Leonardo da Vinci, ^. 11. 




kP^ 



PLAN OF A FAVILION FOR THE DUCHESS OF MILAN. 

(Library of the Institut de France.) 



2o6 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

portraits of the ducal family, legitimate and illegitimate. Two of the 
prince's mistresses, Cecilia Gallerani and Lucrezia Crivelli, sat to him 
in succession. 

Despite II Moro's passion for her, and the dithyrambs of contem- 
porary poets, Cecilia Gallerani's name would have been forgotten long 
since, but for the immortality conferred on her by Leonardo's brush. 

It is not known when the master painted this portrait. It was, 
however, before 1492 ; for the Florentine poet, Bellincioni, who died 
that year, extolled it in a sonnet rather more rugged than usual ; ^ and, 
in a letter written in 1498, Cecilia speaks of it as having been painted 
when she was still very young.^ 

What becan^e of La Gallerani's portrait ? De Pagave says it was in 
the Palazzo Bonesana at Milan in the seventeenth century, and that 
Cecilia was painted ,with a cithar in her hand. Amoretti adds that in 
his time there was a copy in the Milan Gallery. This copy has been 
identified with an absolutely insignificant portrait now in the Am- 
brosiana, known as the Lute-Player. Among other old copies, we 
hear of one belonging to Signer Frisiani of Milan, and another in 
the Minutoli collection, near Greifenberg in Silesia, ^ 

1 Another sonnet by Bellincioni, in which the name Cecilia occurs, is said by Signor 
UzielU to refer, not to Cecilia Gallerani, but to some unknown namesake of hers. 

2 " We saw some fine portraits by Giambellino to-day," writes Isabella d'Este to Cecilia, 
"and this led us to discuss Leonardo's works, and to wish we could see some, in order 
to compare them with other pictures in our possession. We know he painted a portrait 
of you from life, and we beg you to send us your portrait by the bearer, whom we 
despatch for this special purpose. Besides desiring to make the comparison in question, 
we have also a great wish to see your features. As soon as we have examined and com- 
pared it, the picture shall be returned to you," etc. 

To which Cecilia replies : " Most excellent and illustrious lady .... I have read 
what your Highness says as to your desire to see my portrait. I send it to you, and 
should send it even more willingly, if it were like me. Let not your Highness suppose me 
to impute any fault to the master, for I do not think his equal is to be found ; but the 
picture was painted when I was extremely young (' in una eta si imperfetta '), and my 
face has changed so much that, seeing the portrait, and seeing me, no one would suppose 
it to be meant for me. I beg your Highness, however, to receive this proof of my good- 
will favourably, and not the portrait alone. For I am ready to do much more to give 
pleasure to your Highness, whose very devoted servant I am, and I commend myself a 
thousand times to your Grace. From Milan, April 29, 1498. From your Excellency's 
servant, Scicilia Visconta Bergamina." (Luzio, Archivio storico delV Arte, 1888, p. 181.) 

3 Uzielli, Leonardo da Vinci e tre Gentiidonne 7nilanesi.—A\-noxeii\ mentions another 
supposed portrait of Cecilia, which belonged to the Pallavicini family of San Calocero in 
his time. It represented a woman between thirty and forty years old. There was no 



"LA BELLE FERRONlfeRE" 207 

But all this is mere hypothesis, and what we really know of 
Leonardo's portrait is summed up in Bellincione's sonnet. 

The portrait of Cecilia's successor, Lucrezia Crivelli, is, according to 
some critics, to be identified with the famous picture in the Louvre 
known as La Belle Ferroniere. This delicate work, admirably frank 
and firm in handling and in colour, rich and luscious as a fine 
Ghirlandajo, is unfortunately disfigured by numerous cracks, and by 
clumsy repaints, which have blurred it and made it heavy. Its essen- 
tial distinction, however, has survived all ill-treatment. The costume 
of the sitter is at once dignified and simple : she wears a bodice of a fine 
red, slashed sleeves tied with bows of yellowish ribbon, and an em- 
broidery of gold on a black ground as a finish to the square-cut opening 
which displays her throat. Her jewels are a diamond or ruby, hanging 
from a bandeau in the centre of her forehead, and a necklace ol 
alternate black and white beads in four rows. In front of her is a 
stone balustrade. The work has all the freshness and simplicity of the 
Primitives, with an added grace and liberty. The eyes are large and 
well-opened ; the carefully painted lids are somewhat heavy and 
languid ; the mouth is sweet and noble ; the general outline full of 
grace ; the hair is drawn down in flat bands on the temples, and the 
whole expression is serious, chaste, and timid. If this was a prince's 
mistress, she was certainly not one of those proclamatory favourites, 
such as the fair Catelina; who demand an endless profusion of fetes 
and jewels. Rather was she a Marie Touchet, or a Clara (the beloved 
of Egmont), happy in the love of a great prince, and asking neither for 
riches nor splendour, but only for his affection.^ 

Two other pictures in the Ambrosiana, one of a man, the other of 
a woman, seem to belong to the category of official portraits. 

The first, a bust three-quarters to the front, represents a beardless 

lute, and the hand was occupied in arranging the folds of the dress. According to 
Amoretti, Leonardo painted La Gallerani a third time, as Saint Cecilia, in a picture 
which, in his time, belonged to Professor Franchi. Here again we have to deal with 
conjectures devoid of all scientific basis. 

^ The Codex Atlariticus contains three Latin epigrams of a somewhat trivial order, 
addressed to Leonardo in praise of Lucrezia's portrait. M. Valton, one of the most 
learned and discriminating of amateurs, calls my attention to the analogy between the 
Louvre portrait and the medal of Elisabetta Gonzaga, Duchess of Urbino. The head- 
dress, among other details, is almost identical. Unfortunately, it is difficult to solve the 
problem, the portrait being full face, and the medal a profile. 



208 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



man of about thirty, in a red cap and a black doublet, relieved by two 
bands of brown. In spite of a vigour of modelling worthy of Rem- 
brandt, the work lacks freedom and individuality. The expression 

is sullen. The painter 
seems to have taken little 
pleasure in his task. The 
excessive brownness of 
the colour also injures the 
general effect. The pic- 
ture, too, is hardly more 
than a sketch.^ 

The second portrait in 
the Ambrosiana is a half- 
length of a young woman 
in profile. The face is 
rather long and thin, but 
exquisitely pure in out- 
line. It is painted in 
brownish tones, and re- 
lieved against a dark 
background. There is a 
slight smile on the lips, 
the corners of which are 




MERCURY 



ARGUS. A FRESCU UV 1 
(The Castle of Milan.) 



strongly marked ; the eye, 
dark, deep, and limpid, is put in with a rich, generous brush. The 
painting is firm rather than fused, but the firmness is fat and 
luscious. Leonardo has worked a miracle, and painted a portrait 
while creating a type. The admirably modelled head combines certain 
defects — a turned-up nose, slightly atrophied — with beauties that 
disarm criticism ; a tender, almost voluptuous mouth, a long veiled 

1 According to the Ctcet'Ofie (Burckhardt), this is a portrait of the young Gian Galeazzo 
Sforza, II Moro's nephew, the lawful ruler of Milan. But besides the fact that the 
apparent age of the sitter does not agree with that of the young Duke, the face shows no 
trace of resemblance to the refined and fragile Gian Galeazzo, as known to us by 
Caradosso's exquisite little medal. Signor MoreUi attributes the male portrait in the 
Ambrosiana to the anonymous painter of the Virgin of the .Rocks in the National Gallery 
of London. {Die Galerie Borghese, p. 235.) I confess that my connoisseurship does 
not go so far. 



XIII 
Portrait of a Vomii^ Princess. 

(thk \mbro';iana, mii.an.) 




ird by Odny-Gros Pans (I r^i.c 



FEMALE PORTRAIT IN THE AMBROSIANA 209 

glance. The costume, a red dress, simple yet elegant, makes an 
exquisite harmony with the chestnut hair, which is drawn down in 
bandeaux along the cheek, and fastened under a pearl-embroidered 
net. The arm-hole of the slashed sleeve is embroidered with an 
interlaced pattern, finished off on the shoulder by a jewelled ornament 
of two large cut gems, and a hanging pear-shaped pearl. From a row 
of large pearls round the throat hangs a similar pendant, attached to a 
short gold chain. The whole work breathes an air of youth, of grace, 
and of freshness that only Leonardo could have suggested. Signor 
Morelli ascribes this picture to Ambrogio de Predis,^ whereas Dr. 
Bode, while insisting on Leonardo's authorship, proves that the young 
woman represented was not, as has been asserted, Bianca Maria 
Sforza, wife of the Em- 
peror Maximilian. For- 
tunately, Dr. Bode's argu- 
ments in favour of the 
authenticity of the work 
are irrefutable. The 
learned Director of the 
Berlin Gallery shows that 
Ambrogio de Predis cer- 
tainly painted a portrait 
of Bianca Maria, which 
now forms part of the 
Arconati - Visconti collec- 
tion in Paris, but that this 
has nothing in common, 
either in feature or tech- 
nique, with the master- 
piece in the Ambrosiana.^ 

^ Die Galerie Borghese, p. 

o r^C A/r ii yl 7 • - , • PORTRAIT OF AN UNKNOWN MAN. 

238. — Cf. Motta, Archivio storico 

7 J J o o (The Ambrosiana, Milan.) 

lofubardo, 1893, p. 987. 

2 Jahrbuch der kg. Kimst- 
sanimlungen, 1889, no. 2. — A bronze statue in the cathedral at Innspriick represents 
Maximilian's consort standing, one hand on her hip, the other slightly extended. Her 
costume is gorgeous in the extreme. Strings of pearls are arranged upon her 

E E 




210 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

From Leonardo's own admissions, as well as from the evidence of 
his contemporaries, it is evident that, unable to satisfy his own fasti- 
dious taste, he painted extremely slowly, correcting incessantly. Did 
he not himself declare that the painter who has no doubts makes no 
progress ? "Quel pittore, che no' dubita, poco acquiesta " {Trattato 
della Pittura, cap. 62). If he left many works unfinished it was, as 
Vasari has well said, because he was always striving after a higher 
excellence. The biographer quotes Petrarch's verse in this connection : 

E I'amor di saper che m'ha si acceso, 
Che I'opera e retardate dal desio. 

" My love of knowledge so enflamed me, 
That my work was retarded by my desire." 

Fortunately, he has left innumerable drawings to make up for the 
rarity of his pictures, and these reveal the incomparable mastery, the 
incredible variety of the draughtsman in the most varied aspects. It is 
to this manifestation of his genius that I now propose to call attention. 

Although the painter too often left his creations mere sketches, the 
draughtsman tried his hand at every process, and excelled in all. We 
find him alternately making use of pen and ink, charcoal and silver- 
point, with equal mastery, the latter method being perhaps especially 
to his taste, because of the mysterious quality inherent in it. After 
his establishment at Milan, he used red chalk, a more expeditious 
medium, which first appears in his studies for the Last SiLpper. It is 
not improbable that his first essay, in fact, was the sketch in the 

bodice ; from her necklace hangs a diamond or ruby cut to a point, at the end of 
which is a pearl, as in the drawing in the Accademia at Venice here reproduced 
(p. lofi), and the Arconati-Visconti picture. As in these again, the hair is brought 
down on either side of the face in bandeaux, hiding the ears, and is gathered into a net 
at the back of the head. The face, round and full, indeed, a little heavy, resembles the 
two portraits in question, but has nothing in common with that of the Ambrosiana 
picture. 

Signor Coceva has attempted to show, in the Archivio storico delV Arte (1889, p. 264), 
that the latter represents Beatrice d'Este. It has, in fact, certain analogies with her bust 
in the Louvre, especially in profile. But we have only to examine the various portraits of 
Beatrice to see that the unknown in the Ambrosiana is of a very different type. The 
lines of the mouth are totally dissimilar ; the chin especially is of quite a different shape. 
In the Ambrosiana picture it is attached to the throat by a straight line of supreme 
distinction. In all Beatrice's authentic portraits, it is round and heavy. 



LEONARDO'S DRAWINCxS 211 

Accademia at Venice, which is certainly one of the earliest studies for 
the composition. 1 He also used wash, water-colour, and body-colour. 
The variety of paper used by the master was equally great. The 
majority of the studies for the Virgin of the Rocks are on green paper. 
I may instance the head of the Infant Saviour (in the Louvre) and the 
little S. John, in the same collection, and in the Duke of Devonshire's 
collection at Chatsworth. 

According to several critics (Emile Galichon, Morelli, and Richter), 
one distinguishing characteristic of Leonardo's manner was his method 
of shading by means of parallel hatchings from left to right, a pecu- 
liarity to be explained by the fact that he was left-handed. ^ But M. de 
Geymiiller has shown this theory to have been an exaggerated one. 
In one single drawing (a study in the Louvre for the little S. John of 
the Virgin of the Rocks), the hatchings are laid in seven different 
directions ; in the corner of the eye, they are laid one above the other 
in three directions.^ 

A painter even more pre-eminently than a draughtsman, Leonardo 
avoided over-definite contours in painting. He modelled with colour 
and with light, rather than v/ith lines and hatchings. I cannot do 
better than let him speak for himself here : " On the beauty of faces. 
Do not make the lines of the muscles too insistent ('con aspra defini- 
zione'), but allow soft lights to melt gradually into pleasant and 
agreeable shades. This gives grace and beauty."^ 

^ Red chalk drawings in Richter's work : vol. i., plates xxi., xxix., xl., xliv., xlvi. 
xlvii., 1., li., etc. — For the methods of draughtsmanship recommended by Leonardo, see 
Richter, vol. i., p. 315 et seq. 

2 " Looking over these sketches, made with the left hand, as we see by the direction 
of the hatchings (from left to right)," says Emile Galichon, " we are amazed at the facility 
with which Leonardo handled the pen. A careful examination of his drawings would almost 
lead us to the conclusion that his left hand was the more obedient to the pulsations of his 
soul, his right to the directions of his reason. When he wished to translate the feelings 
that stirred his heart, when he came home, perhaps, after having followed a man about all 
day whose bizarre or expressive features had struck him, his left hand fixed his emotion 
or his recollection rapidly on the paper. But when he wanted to model or work out a 
figure clearly present to his mind, the final study of the Infant Jesus for the Virgin of the 
Rocks, or the head of the S. Atine in the Louvre, his right hand undertook the task." 
{Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1867, vol. ii., p. 536.) 

^ Les derniers Travaux sur Leonard de Vinci, p. 55. 

* Trattato, cap. 291. 

E E 2 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 




He recommends the 
use of the same colour 
for the contours as that 
used for the background 
— in other words, he de- 
precates the practice of 
separating the figures 
from the background by 
means of a dark outHne 
(cap. 1 1 6). 

To him, the chiei 
triumph of painting lay 
in chiaroscuro and fore- 
shortening : " II chiaro e 
lo scuro insieme co li 
scorti e la eccelenzia della 
scienza della pittura" 
(cap. 671). He at- 



A SHEET OF SKETCHES. 

(Bonnat Collection, Paris.) 



tached the utmost importance to relief, to the 
tactile quality of painting. Here he is at one 
with Michelangelo, who, in his letter to 
Varchi, pronounced painting to be excellent 
in proportion to the effect of relief it pro- 
duces.^ 

On the other hand, as if divining the 
abuses that were to spring from Michel- 
angelo's example, the author of the Trattato 
condemns the anatomist-painters, who, anx- 
ious to show their knowledge of bones, 
nerves, and muscles, paint figures that might 
be of wood (cap. 125. Cf. cap. 340). 

It was, indeed, the human body in its 

1 Lettere, Milanesi's ed., p. 522. 




STUDY FOR A STANDING FIGURE. 

(Library of the Iiistitut de France.), 



LEONARDO'S TREATMENT OF FORM 



213 




STUDY OF 



(The Louvre.) 



His independent genius rebelled 



most flexible aspect, and 

still more the human 

soul in its most sensitive 

moods, that he took as 

the basis and inspiration 

of his art. But it was 

the human body as a 

softly moulded mass, 

rather than as a bony, 

anatomical structure. In 

spite of his interest in 

anatomy, or rather my- 
ology, he had a horror 

of all things connected 

with death. No art was 

ever more radiant than 

his. Hence his distaste 

for architectural backgrounds 

against rigid statical laws. 

I may add, to complete the antithesis between Leonardo and 

Michelangelo, that Leonardo was a respectful disciple of Nature, 

approaching her without foregone conclusions, whereas the great 

Florentine sculptor made his researches under the influence of a 

preconceived idea, a 
dominant ideal, and 
interpreted anatomy by 
artistic canons. 

Is it possible to fix 
the dates of Leonardo's 
drawings ? The German 
writer, M tiller - Walde, 
has attempted it. For 
my own part, I think 
we may place a rung in 

STUDY FOR THE EQUESTRIAN STATUE OF FR. SFORZA. I'll 

,..,. ^ ... , the chronological adder 

(Windsor Library.) O 




Head of an Old Man. 

(BRITISH MUSEUM.) 




■intcd by Drnogcr, Pa 



LEONARDO'S DRAWINGS 215 

drawing was to him merely a form of writing, a means of rendering 
his thought more clearly. These rough sketches of his show the most 
admirable penetration and precision ; they evoke the very essence 
of beings and of things. The most complex mechanisms become 
intelligible under Leonardo's pen or pencil. 

Setting aside the innumerable sketches that illustrate the manu- 
scripts, we have two distinct categories of drawings to consider : 
drawings made in preparation for pictures, and studies of heads.^ 

The first, I am bound to admit, betray a certain vacillation. The 
conception is too often confused, the handling hasty, and occasionally 
incorrect. Leonardo here obeys the precept in the Trattato delta 
Pittura (cap. 64) : " When sketching out a composition, work rapidly, 
and do not elaborate the drawing of the limbs. It will be enough to 
indicate their position ; and you can finish them afterwards at your 
leisure." 

The studies of heads, on the other hand, are marked by an extra- 
ordinary sincerity and assurance. Taken as a whole, these types make 
up a rich human iconography, ranging from the dreamy adolescent to 
the vigorous old man, robust as the Farnese Hercules. Note the 
marvellous variety even in such a detail as the arrangement of the 
hair. Here we have a luxuriant mane, encircling the face like an 
aureole ; there, woolly, curly, waving or braided tresses. 

The drawings for the Battle of Anghiari, especially those in the 
Turin Library, have a fire and vigour which are wanting in the 
drawings of the Florentine period, and betray an intention on the part 
of the master to measure himself with Michelangelo. 

The so-called Caricatures serve as pendants to these types of ideal 
beauty, making up a gallery of idiots and cretins, goitred, toothless, 

^ In the master's manuscripts we find the embryoes of a series of figures which he after- 
wards developed and completed in finished drawings. Thus, certain birds in the manuscripts 
of the Institut de France (E. fol. 42 v") were the forerunners of the standing eagle with 
outspread wings in the enigmatic drawing at Windsor (Grosvenor Gallery Series, no. 38). 
Thus, too, the interlaced ornaments of the engraving inscribed " Academia Leonardi Vinci " 
were preceded by a considerable number of analogous motives, such as the sketch in 
MS. E. (fol. 41 v°), in the Institut. The same process may be traced in the work of 
Raphael He, too, loved to ruminate. Some of his figures that seem to us the 
inspiration of a moment, were carefully elaborated. A boyish sketch in the Accademia 
at Venice became a figure of radiant beauty and astonishing firmness after a period of 
fifteen years. 



2l6 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



o 




K^ 



USE (?). FROM AN ENGRAVING ASCHIBED TO LEONARl 

(British Museum.) 



hare - lipped abortions, 
with noses and chins 
atrophied or developed to 
exaggeration. The artist 
who created the most 
perfect types of humanity 
also applied himself, long 
before Grandville and 
Callot, to the reproduction 
ot the most monstrous 
deformities, caricatures 
which show the interme- 
diate degree between the 
man and the beast, or, 
rather, man degraded be- 
low the level of the 
beast, by a hideous hy- 
bridism. In some examples, the nose is flattened, while the upper lip 
protrudes like those of the felidae : in others, the nose is hooked and 
prominent as a parrot's 
beak.^ 



1 A thoughtful enquirer, 
himself an authority on the 
art of caricature, has left us a 
definition of what he calls the 
anatomy of ugliness that I 
may offer to the attention of 
my reader. Leonardo, said 
Champfleury, " was of the race 
of those who have sought to 
demonstrate the gradual tran- 
sitions which lead from the 
Apollo to the frog. He con- 
cerned himself both with the 
traits that divide man from 
brute, and those which con- 
nect them. Occupied with 
such a train of thought, 
Leonardo must often have 
pondered the order of primal 
organisms. He incHned per- 
haps to the ideas of the 




STUDY OF AN OLD MAN. 

(Trivulzi Library.) 



DRAWINGS AND CARICATURES 



217 



But here again we may ask, was Leonardo a realist, or did he 
distort nature by dwelhng exclusively on exceptions ? Realism, as we 
understand it in our own times, is either platitude or an exclusive pre- 
occupation with what is ugly. From this grovelling point of view, 
proud, free spirits such as Leonardo can never be realists. Has not 
the master shown us by his example that art must be either subjective 
or non-existent ? Take any one of his heads of old men : even when 
he seems to be giving 
himself up to the work 
of mechanical reproduc- 
tion, he eliminates, per- 
haps unconsciously, 
everything opposed to 
the type that rises be- 
fore his imagination, in- 
terposing between his 
eyes and the model. 
He ends by giving us, 
not a photographically 
faithful image of some 
individual, but an ideal 
of his own, which has 
incorporated itself in 
some face, seen, per- 
haps, by chance. Under 
his pencil this face is 
unwittingly transform- 
ed, and in a moment 

its personality is exchanged for one the artist has evolved from 
dreams. 

Darwins of his day. Yet Leonardo seems to have studied only the exterior physiognomy 
of beings ; his pencil does not penetrate beyond this. But he wished to create, and even 
to overstep Nature ; in all branches of knowledge, his love of research was very strongly 
developed, and he inquired into the greater in order to obtain the less. His sheets 
of sketches must be looked upon as jottings purposely exaggerated, a teratological 
system carried to an extreme, a jeu d'esprit akin to those of Bacon, when he amused 
himself by turning rhetorician, and arguing the pros and mis of a question." {Gazette 
des Beaux-Arts, 1879, vol. i., p. 201.) 

F F 




HEAD OF A WOMAN. FROM AN ENGRAVING ASCRIBED TO LEONARDO. 

(British Museum.) 



2i8 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

These grotesque drawings, which were a mere accident in 
Leonardo's art, an accident I do not hesitate to call regrettable, 
became the favourite food of vulgar taste among a certain class of 
amateurs. They were eagerly sought after by collectors, and, what was 
worse, were laboriously copied and imitated by many artists. Hence 
the frequency with which they occur in various European collections. 

By this creation of the aesthetics of ugliness side by side with a 
sublime formula of beauty, Leonardo showed the way on a path of 
extreme danger. 

Towards the close of his sojourn in Milan, the master drew up a 
list of his drawings on one of the sheets of that Codex Atlanticus 
which is, so to speak, the Palladium of the Ambrosiana Library. I 
will transcribe this document, for in spite of its curiously laconic nature, 
it gives evidence of the singular catholicity of Leonardo's studies, and 
at the same time, it allows us to plunge into some of the mysterious 
recesses of his mind : "A head full face, of a young man, with fine 
flowing hair. Many flowers drawn from nature. A head, full face, 
with curly hair. Certain figures of S. Jerome. The measurements of 
a figure. Drawings of furnaces. A head of the Duke. Many designs 
for knots. Four studies for the panel of S. Angelo. A small com- 
position of Girolamo da Fegline, A head of Christ done with the pen. 
Eight S. Sebastians. Several compositions of angels. A chalcedony 
[probably an antique cameo]. A head in profile with fine hair. 
Some pitchers seen in (?) perspective. Some machines for ships. 
Some machines for water-works. A head of Atalante [Atalante da 
Migliorotti ?], looking up. The head of Girolamo da Fegline. 
The head of Gian Francisco Borso. Several throats of old women. 
Several heads of old men. Several nude figures, complete. Several 
arms, eyes, feet, and positions. A Madonna, finished. Another, 
nearly in profile. Head of Our Lady ascending into Heaven. A 
head of an old man with a long chin. A head of a gipsy girl. 
A head with a hat on. A representation of the Passion, a cast. 
A head of a girl with her hair gathered in a knot. A head with the 
brown hair dressed." ^ 

Did Leonardo make any essays in engraving ? We may affirm at 
1 Richter, vol. i., pp. 355-356. 



ENGRAVINGS ASCRIBED TO LEONARDO 219 

least that, like Diirer, Holbein, Jean Cousin, and other masters, he never 
himself engraved on wood. This fact has been definitely established 
by the Marchese d'Adda.^ In the dedication of the Trattato della 
Divina Proportione , Leonardo's friend Pacioli certainly declares that 
he asked the latter to engrave the "schemata" for the treatise. 
" Schemata .... Vincii nostri Leonardo manibus scalpta." But a 
little farther on he adds, in referring to the base of a column (ch. vi. 
fol. 28 v°) : " . . . . As you may see in the disposition of the 
regular bodies and others which you will find further on, done by 
Leonardo da Vinci, the excellent painter, architect, and musician, a 
man gifted with all the virtues, at the time when we were in the town 
of Milan, in the service of the very excellent Duke Lodovico Sforza 
Anglo, between the years 1496 and 1499. At this period we left the 
city together, in consequence of events, and went to settle in 

Florence At Milan, I had with my own hands illuminated 

and ornamented these drawings, to the number of sixty, to insert 
them in the copy destined for the Duke ^ and also in two others, 
one for Galeazzo San Severino of Milan ; the other, for the most 
excellent Piero Soderini, Gonfaloniere of Florence, in whose palace 

he is at present, etc " It is evident, says the Marchese d'Adda, 

that Pacioli refers to Leonardo's share in the preparation of the 
manuscript, and that he had never heard of the woodcuts for the 
volume, which was not printed at Venice till 1509, long after the two 
friends had quitted Milan. 

Gilberto Govi goes even further. He affirms that Pacioli kept 
Leonardo's original drawings for himself, and made tracings from 
them for the three manuscript copies. It is certain, at any rate, that 
the Codex Atlanticus contains sketches of many geometrical figures for 
Pacioli's work.^ 

1 Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1868, vol. ii., p. 130, et seq. 

^ This copy is in the Geneva Library. Although much injured by damp, it bears the 
true Leonardesque impress, says the Marchese d'Adda. In it, adds the learned Milanese 
iconophile, I saw the most unmistakable evidences of the master's influence, both in the 
geometrical figures and in the splendid miniature in which the author is represented 
offering his manuscript to Lodovico il Moro. The latter is evidently by the hand of Fra 
Antonio da Monza. {Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1868, vol. ii., p. 133.) 

^ Saggio, p. 13. — Referring to the Leonardesque character certain critics have dis- 
covered in the two profile heads in Pacioli's work (fol. 25 of the first Treatise, and fol. 28 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



On the other hand, there are several engravings trom copperplates 
which pass for the works of Leonardo da Vinci J 

In the British Museum, to begin with, there is a Yo2ing Woman in 
Profile, turning to the left. Rich tresses hang about her neck, and fall 
on her shoulders ; a curl strays across her cheek. She wears a 
slashed bodice. An attempt has been made to connect this head with 
that of the Mona Lisa. But it is entirely wanting in the flexibility 

so characteristic of La 
Gioconda, and the fea- 
tures have a curiously 
bewildered expression. 

A second example 
is also in the British 
Museum, a Voting 
Woman in Profile 
turned to the right, 
crowned with ivy, with 
the inscription AG HA 
LE. VI. The type 
here has more distinc- 
tion, and the handling- 
more flexibility. 

A third, the only 

known example of 

which belongs to the 

same collection, The 

Four Horsemen, is certainly from a drawing by Leonardo, though 

it is impossible to say whether the plate was actually engraved 

by him. 2 

of the second), the Marchese d'Adda points out that these were borrowed from a work by 
Piero della Francesca, Pacioh's master and fellow citizen. 

^ D'Adda, Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1868, vol. ii., p. 139 et seq. — Passavant, Le Peiiitre- 
Graveur, vol. v., p. 181.— Delaborde, La Gravure en Italie avant Marc Antonie, p. 183. 
—A drawing in the Vallardi Collection (no. i), a woman in profile to the right, has much 
m common with the two engravings. There is the same high chin, the same continuity 
of line m the forehead and nose, the same straight nose, the same astonished gaze. 

^ Richter, pi. Ixv. — Other engravings ascribed to Leonardo are either spurious or 
doubtful. Passavant, Le Pehitre-Graveur, vol. v., p. 180. 




ENGRAVING AFTER LEONARL 



ENGRAVINGS ASCRIBED TO LEONARDO "i 

Six engravings are connected with the so-called "Academy of 
Leonardo." They bear the inscription Academia Leonardi Vinci in 
the midst of interlaced ornaments, cunningly composed, and forming 
a sort of labyrinth."^ 

Several heads of old men, long attributed to Mantegna, seem 

also to have been ex- 
ecuted in the studio 
of the great head 
of the Milanese 
school. 1 

The equestrian 
statue of Francesco 
Sforza, and the Last 
Supper represent but 
a small proportion 
of Leonardo's almost 
miraculous activity 
during sixteen or 
seventeen years of ex- 
traordinary fecundity 
and strenuous toil. 
We have still to con- 
sider his work as an 
architect, an engineer, 
a mechanician, a natur- 
ahst, a philosopher, and 
finally, his labours as a 
his name. 

The Sforza monument, unfinished though it was, had immediately 
given Leonardo a place in the front rank of sculptors, just as the Last 
Supper had raised him to the highest place among painters. Taking 
into account the scope and variety of his knowledge in the exact sciences, 
it was natural that the artist should have burned to try his hand at 

1 See M. G. Duplessis' article in the Revue Universelle des Arts, 1862, vol. xv., 
pp. 157-158- 




FOR THE STATUE OF FRANXESCO SFORZA 
ASCRIBED TO LEONARDO. 



(British Museum.) 



ENGRAVING 



teacher in the Academy to which he gave 



222 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

architecture. And, as a fact, problems of construction occupied him as 
much as problems of aesthetics ; hence we find him searching into the 
causes that produce fissures in walls and niches, inquiring into the 
nature of arches, &c. The acoustics of church buildings also occupied 
him a good deal ; he tried to discover an architectural combination 
which would enable the preacher's voice to reach the most distant corner 
of the building, and he invented the " teatro da predicare " — a lecture 
hall in the form of an amphitheatre. Among his designs there is also 
the plan of a town with a system of streets on two different levels for 
distinct services (Richter, pi. Ixxvii., Ixxviii). 

An opportunity of coming to the front in this new domain soon 
presented itself. For years, the completion of Milan Cathedral had 
occupied the attention of all who were interested in Gothic architecture. 
The master-builders of Strasburg, as also Bramante, Francesco di 
Giorgio Martini, and many others, had given advice, and worked out 
plans. In 1487^ Leonardo, too, entered the lists in this great com- 
petition, which stirred the enthusiasm of the last champions of the 
Middle Ages ; he turned his attention to the cupola which was to crown 
the transept, the " tiburlum." But everything tends to prove that his 
design in the Gothic manner was rejected, ^ and henceforth the master's 
researches were purely platonic. 

Leonardo eagerly accepted other works, apparently still more humble. 
On February 2, 1494, when at the Sforzesca, he made a design for a 
staircase of twenty-five steps, each two-thirds of a " braccia " high and 
eight "braccia" wide. On March 20 following, he went to Vigevano 
to examine the vines. It was perhaps on this occasion that he 
made a study of the staircase of a hundred and thirty steps in the 
mansion. 

Although we cannot positively attribute any existing building to 
Leonardo, it is easy to divine from his sketches what his designs may 
or would have been in stone. They would first of all have revealed the 
sense of harmony that characterised this purist "par excellence," by the 

^ 1487. "Addi 8 agosto Magistro Leonardo Florentino, qui habet onus faciendi 
modellum unum tuboril ecclesise majoris, juxta ordinationem factam in Consilio fabricae, 
super ratione faciendi dictum modellum." L. 56 {Annali della Fabbrica del Duomo di 
Milano, vol. iii., p. 38. Cf. Boito, // Duomo di Milano, pp. 227-228.) 

2 Richter, vol. ii., pi. C. — Trivulzi MS., pi. xxxvii. 



ARCHITECTURAL DESIGNS 223 

perfect equilibrium of the different parts of the edifice, attached to the 
central body by an absolutely organic and vital bond. Churches on a 
concentric plan, that is to say, with the lower aisles and chapels grouped 
as closely as possible round a central cupola which dominates the whole 
structure, on the system dear to the Byzantines, seem to have been 
preferred by the master. He sketched a great number in the sheets 
published by M. de Geymuller, grouping four, six, and even eight 
cupolas round the central dome. The pavilion he designed for the 
Duchess Beatrice d'Este's garden had also a domed vault. His 
masterpiece in the domain of circular architecture is a design, no 
less majestic than simple in conception, for a mausoleum (inspired, 
perhaps, by that at Halicarnassus, which still existed in part at the 
beginning of the fifteenth century). According to M. de Geymiiller, 
this one design would have sufficed to rank Leonardo among the 
greatest architects of all time.^ 

As an architect, says the same authority, Leonardo was the direct 
descendant of Brunellesco. He recognised this himself by drawing the 
plan of San Spirito at Florence, sketching a lateral view of the church 
of San Lorenzo in the same city, and composing a plan almost identical 
with that of the famous Chapel of the Angels, three of Brunellesco's 
masterpieces. In his plans of churches he was clearly inspired by the 
dome and lantern of Santa Maria dei Fiori ; and finally, it was from 
Brunellesco he borrowed the principle of double entablatures. '^ It is 
possible that the influence of another of his Florentine compatriots, the 
great Leone Battista Alberti, had little effect upon him till after his 
arrival in Milan, and that it worked upon him through the intermediary 
of Bramante, who proved himself in so many respects the successor and 
exponent of Alberti. But above all others, Bramante, in his classic 
rather than in his Lombard vein, made a deep impression on the 
master. Leonardo the architect, like Leonardo the sculptor, had 
dreams of colossal, almost chimeric works. The royal necropolis he 
planned (Richter, pi. xcviii) was to consist, according to M. de 
Geymliller's calculations, of an artificial mountain, 600 metres in dia- 
meter at the base, and of a circular temple, the pavement of which was 

^ M. de Geymiiller's study is incorporated in Dr. Richter's work. 
2 Ch. Ravaisson-MoUien, vol. ii., fol. 67 v". 



224 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



to be on a level with the spires of Cologne Cathedral, while the interior 
was to be of the same width as the nave of S. Peter's at Rome. ^ 

On another occasion, fired by the example of Aristotele di Fiora- 
vante, the famous Bolognese engineer, who had removed a tower from 
one place to another without demolishing it, he proposed to the 
Florentine government to raise the Baptistery by means of machinery, 
and replace it on a base of steps. Needless to say, the project was not 
favourably received. Here again the great artist and scholar showed 
himself a visionary. 

1 According to Signor Uzielli, it was in 1499 that Leonardo made a report on the 
causes that threatened the destruction of the church of San Salvatore al Monte. 
{Riarche, ist ed. vol. ii , p. 215-216.) G. Milanesi, however, gives 1506 as the date of 
this consultation. (Vasari, vol. iv.) 





1' 








1 mP ^'11 








r#^jK||^^ 


^^Q 






Wi' jImL'i- ^ 'iiij-lin 


^^S 


\ 




^^Jt^-U 


-'^m 


Hi 


m 


ffli 


^--^ 






if^ 


^ \ 




-^ 





DESIGN FOR A CHURCH WITH A CENTRAL CUI'OLA. 
(Library of the Institut de France.) 




IMOUELS OF WEAPONS, OFFENSIVE AND DEFENSIVE. 

(Valton Collection, Paris.) 



CHAPTER VIII 



LEONARDOS ACADEMY — HIS WRITINGS ON ART THE "TREATISE ON PAINTING — FRA 

LUCA PACIOLI AND HIS TREATISE ON PROPORTION — LEONARDO'S " ATELIER " AND 
HIS TEACHING. 




L 



STUDY FOR 'the ADORATION OF THE M/ 



(British Museum.) 



EONARDO was not 
content to create, he 
burned with the de- 
sire to teach also. In order 
to act more strongly on 
those by whom he was 
surrounded, he founded 
the academy which bore his 
name. This was not, as 
we might be tempted to 
think, merely an academic 
body, devoted to the glori- 
fication of ability, nor even an institution for public teaching. In 
all probability, it was a free society, through which its members could 
obtain a more fruitful influence on each other and their neighbours, 
by discussion, by working together, and by general community of tastes 
and studies. All the documents we possess to throw light on this 
mysterious institution are half a dozen engravings with the words 
" Academia Leonardi Vinci " ^ in an interlaced ornament, and the 

1 Various hypotheses have been put forward to explain these "tondi,'' as they have 
been called from their circular shape. Leonardo, says Vasari, wasted a good deal of time 
in drawing festoons of cords — "gruppi di cordi'" — in a pattern : one of these, a very 
beautiful and intricate example, was engraved. Modern writers have suggested that these 

G G 



226 LEONARDO DA VINCi 

engraving of a woman's head, bearing the same inscription. And yet 
there can be no doubt about the influence this institution had upon 
the formation of the Milanese school, and even, I may add, upon 
the genesis of modern science.^ 

Leonardo's academy is usually pictured as one of those essentially 
solemn and formal societies which rose into vogue in the sixteenth 
century, and reached their full expansion in the seventeenth. Such an 
idea is anachronistic. The epoch with which we are now concerned 

prints were intended to serve as entrance tickets to the sessions or courses of the Milanese 
Accademia, or that they were destined for "ex Hbris," to be pasted into the books 
belonging to the Academy library. The Marchese d'Adda explains them as models of 
linear ornament, for the use of the pupils of every kind who frequented the Academy, 
painters, miniaturists, goldsmiths, and even handicraftsmen. More recently, M. Charles 
Henry has suggested that they were demonstrations of the master's scientific aesthetics. 
{Introduction a f Esthetiqiie scientifique, Paris, 1885, p. 5.) 

It is evident that this interlaced ornament is not of German origin, as Passavant 
declared it to be, though Diirer indeed copied it, for it recurs in Leonardo's manuscripts 
{Codex Atlatiticus, fol. 548 — Ravaisson-Mollien, vol. vi. MS., no. 2038 of the 
Bibliotheque Nationale, fol. 34 v°.), in the paintings of one of the small rooms in the 
castle at Milan (see p. 205), on the spandril of the vault in the sacristy of Santa Maria 
delle Grazie, also at Milan (Mongeri, L Arte a Mllano, p. 213), on the sleeves of the 
woman in the female portrait of the Ambrosiana, and on those of one of the horsemen in 
the Battle of Anghiari. M. Errera, Professor of the University of Brussels, suggests that 
the interlacements may have been an armorial rebus ; the word " Vinci " means 
" enchained," and is the root of " vincoU " (bonds). Pacioli, however, plays on the 
word " Vinci," i.e.^ who has vanquished, who can vanquish. Winterberg's ed., 

P- 32-33- 

1 In Uzielli's last edition (vol. i., p. 505), the very existence of Leonardo's academy, 
whether as a scientific or as an artistic body, is contested. According to Signor Uzielli, 
it was nothing more than a pious but unfulfilled aspiration. I cannot share his opinion. 
Do we not know, thanks to Luca Pacioli, that on February 9, 1498, at least, 
Lodovico organised a grand scientific tournament (" laudabile e scientifico duello ") at 
the Castle of Milan in which prelates, generals, doctors, astrologers, and men of law, 
besides Leonardo himself, took part as combatants and spectators. It was there declared 
— " ces paroles douces comme le miel " — that nothing could be more meritorious in a 
man of talent than to communicate his gift to others {Divma Proportione. Cf. Miiller- 
Walde ; Jahrbuch, 1897, p. 11 5-1 18). — Another contemporary, the chronicler Corio, 
speaks of the elegant academy of Lodovico il Moro. 

In one of his Novelle, Bandello describes the " salon " of Cecilia Gallerani, the favourite 
of II Moro and the original of one of Leonardo's most famous portraits, and shows us 
soldiers, musicians, architects, philosophers, and poets grouped about her. Such " re'unions " 
were in fact academies, and have been compared, reasonably enough, with that of which 
Leonardo was the instigator. 

The organisation of the Milanese Academy would be of great interest for us, were it 
only to let us know how far the discoveries of Leonardo had a chance of propagation, and 
whether some among them may not have come to the knowledge of his immediate 
successors by direct oral tradition. 



LEONARDO'S MANUSCRIPTS 227 

had still too much vitality and independence to be shut up in narrow 
formulae. Putting aside the kingdom of Naples, where external 
distractions very early became a factor in the encouragement of 
art, science and literature, the Italy of the early Renaissance had only 
a few friendly, unofficial, and essentially informal societies to show. 
At the court of the Sforzi, especially, artists, poets and savants 
might look for glory and fortune, but not for official honours. Those 
titles of knighthood, which they were already beginning to earn at 
Rome and Naples, were not awarded elsewhere. The most that II 
Moro did was to crown his favourite, Bellincioni, in public with the 
poet's bays, and to turn his physician, Gabriele Pirovano, who had 
cured him, into the Conte da Rosata. 

It is generally agreed that the manuscripts left by Leonardo are 
fragments from the teaching he gave in his Milanese academy. We 
must therefore discuss, in some detail, a system of education nearly as 
vast as that of Pico della Mirandola, embracing as it did every branch 
of human knowledge, not excepting the occult sciences. 

Before entering upon any discussion of those theoretical works in 
which Leonardo treats of painting, of proportion, and of other branches 
of art, it will be convenient to give a brief history of the manuscripts 
in which his observations have been preserved. 

From about his thirty-seventh year, according to Dr. Richter, Leon- 
ardo made it a habit to write down the results of his observations, and 
continued that work till his death, thus fulfilling to the end that duty 
of activity which is incumbent on every human creature. Even now, 
after great and irreparable losses, his manuscripts and fragments of 
manuscripts reach a total of more than fifty, and form more than five 
thousand pages of text. Dr. Richter has attempted to classify them 
chronologically, an attempt in which we shall not follow him, for in 
most cases it rests on pure conjecture. More than once, indeed, he 
has been compelled to confess his inability to suggest even an 
approximate date. 

As for Leonardo's peculiar habit of writing in Oriental fashion, from 
right to left, it may be well to say now what has to be said about it. 
We know from the Uffizi drawing reproduced on p. 29, that he 
began the practice as early as 1473. ^^ was faithful to it to the end 

Q Q Z 



228 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



of his life, and that on no capricious impulse. Various pieces of evi- 
dence combine to show that it was only one among several precautions 
taken against the pilfering of his secrets. He was in the habit, for 
instance, of writing certain words in the form of anagrams, "Amor" 
for " Roma," " Ilopan " for " Napoli." ^ 

From the palceographic standpoint, the writing of Leonardo is still 
fifteenth century in its character, and in its smallness, its rigidity, and 
the shortness of its strokes above and below the line, differs essentially 

from the large and ex- 
pressive writing of 
Michelangelo! and 
Raphael. 

During the thirty- 
five years which sepa- 
rate the first manuscript 
from the last the writing 
undergoes no change 
whatever. The most we 
can do is to point to 
some slight difference 
between the characters 
used on the two early 
drawings of 1473 ^^^ 
1478, and those which 
belong to his maturity 




JRAVING OF INTERLACED ORNAMENT INSCRIBED ACADEMIA LEONARDI 



or old age. M. Charles 
(The Ambrosiana, Milan.) Ravalssou has remarked 

that in his first attempts^ 
Leonardo takes pleasure in forming letters of some elaboration, which 
later on, he abandons for characters more suitable to a thinker and 
observer, who wishes to lose no time in recording his experiences. 
In 1478 — adds M. Ravaisson — Leonardo is found experimenting with 

1 Here and there, at long intervals, we come upon a line written in the ordinary way 
{^Manuscrit B at the Institut de France ; Ravaisson-Mollien, les Ecrits de Leonard da Vinci^ 
p. 23). Some of Leonardo's contemporaries wrote from right to left, Sabba da Castiglione, 
for instance (Ravaisson, Les Manuscrits, vol. i., p. 2), and the sculptor, Raf da Montelupo, 
who wrote "all' ebraica " (Gaye, Carteggio, vol. iii., p. 582-3). 



LEONARDO'S MANUSCRIPTS 



229 



a sign resembling the beginning of a loop to take the place of n ; 
later on, he nearly always reduces it to the simple stroke in common 
Lise.^ 

It is difficult to imagine a spontaneous genius, a genius like Dona- 
tello, for instance, sitting down to write about art, to dissect and 
account for his impressions, and to formulate receipts for his pupils. 
Reasoning is supposed to be inconsistent with spontaneity of inspira- 
tion ! But without going very far for instances, can we not point, 
even in the Florence 
of the fifteenth century, 
to more than one emi- 
nent creator who took 
up the pen for didactic 
purposes, to Leone Bat- 
tista Alberti, to GhibertI, 
to Ghirlandajo, to Ver- 
rocchio? At Milan, 
Bramante, the rival and 
colleague of Leonardo, 
composed several 
treatises, now unhappily 
lost ; so, too, did Zenale. 
Leonardo, then, had the 
authority of many illus- 
trious examples for his 
attempt to combine the 
honours of the theorist 
with the glory of the 

creative artist. And yet what a singular contradiction he presents ! 
This man, whose work is one long, consistent protest against formulae, 
against teaching, against tradition, pretends to instruct others in the 
treating of a subject according to set and determined rules ! Did 
the anomaly even strike him ? If you, my artist reader, have not in 
your own imagination the force necessary to show you the attitudes 
and gestures of a man desperate, or transported by rage, do you think 
1 Ch. Ravaisson-Mollien, Les Manuscrits, vol. v., p. i. 




EXCRAVING INTERLACED OKNAMENT INSCRIBED ACADEMIA 
LEONARDI VINCI." 



(The Ambrosiana, Milan.) 



230 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

your brush will ever succeed in depicting such a person by the help of 
a book ? How thoroughly the precept of the old Latin author, " si vis 
me flere," applies in such a case ! You may say that Leonardo wrote 
for second-rate artists; to which I answer that, from the artistic stand- 
point, such people do not exist, and that it was unworthy of Leonardo's 
genius to trouble itself about them. 

Like the other works of Leonardo, the Trattato della Pitttira 
awaits the editor. It has not yet undergone the remodelling and 
co-ordination required to make it a real didactic treatise. The want 
of sequence in the arrangement of its chapters, and the innumerable 

repetitions show that it 



Llatl JACLtA 



\L\ (7 | £p 



SKETCH IN THE " TRATTATO DELLA FITTU 

(Vatican Library.) 



never received the 
master's last touches. 
Let us add that, im- 
perfect as it is, it has 
never ceased, since it 
was first made public, to 
excite the keen interest 
of the artist and the amateur. Between 1651, when it was first sent 
to the press, and 1898, nearly thirty editions and translations have 
been published. 

The treatise has come down to us in two different forms. In the 
first place, we have the autographic fragments, illustrated by numerous 
drawings of the master, which Dr. Richter was the first to publish ; 
secondly, we have several old copies, more complete in some respects 
than the fragments ; in these we can recognise an effort at re-arrange- 
ment due, no doubt, to one or another of his disciples, if not to 
Leonardo himself. 

Of these the two most important copies are in the Barberini Palace 
and the Vatican. Upon the former were based the early printed 
editions, especially that of 1651, which contained illustrations by 
Nicholas Poussin.^ The Vatican manuscript was published by Manzi 

^ It is now asserted that some of the figures hitherto ascribed to Poussin are copies by 
the French master of drawings by Leonardo himself. As to this, a comparison between 
them and the copies made by Rubens, or one of his pupils, from the same originals ought 
to be decisive. (Pawlowski, in Pierre-Paul Rubens, p. 227-233, Librairie de I'Art ; 
De Geymiiller, Les derniers Travaux sur Leonard de Vinci, p. 34, 36). But—" pace " these 



THE "TREATISE ON PAINTING" 



231 




in 18 1 7. It is much more complete than the Barberini codex, for it 
contains books i., v., vi., vii. and viii,, all wanting in the latter. As the 
name of Melzi occurs in three separate passages, it has been supposed 
that he had something to do with the production or arrangement of 
the Vatican codex. But that of course is only a more 
or less probable hypothesis. 

We must add that beyond the diagrams of per- 
spective and the drawings of trees, the Vatican MS. 
contains but a small number of sketches : the series 
of noses, a few anatomical sketches and studies of 
movement, a horse walking, &c. The nude figure, 
front and back (plate ix., no. 16, in the Manzi edition) 
is a reproduction from two of the Windsor drawings. 

Manzi allowed himself various libertie swith Leo- 
nardo. Not content with much arbitrary modification 
of his author's orthography, he left out paragraphs 
and even whole chapters, and so it became necessary 
to prepare a definitive edition, a task brought to a 
happy conclusion by the late Heinrich Ludwig (died 
1898), a German painter, settled in Rome. The 
German translation facing the text in Ludwig's edition shows a 
scrupulous fidelity, also evident in the commentaries, of which the 
third volume is made up. Ludwig followed up his edition of the 
Trattato with a special volume (1885), in which the differences and 
analogies between the original manuscripts of Leonardo, and the 

respectable authorities — could there be anything more out of harmony with Leonardo's 
manner than heavy, common figures like these ? 

After taking, by his drawings, an active part in the publication of the Trattato, 
Poussin renounced his convictions, and finally wrote the following letter to Abraham 
Bosse : " As for Leonardo's book, it is true that I drew the human figures in the copy 
which belongs to M. le Chevalier du Puis (del Pozzo) ; but the rest of the drawings, 
geometrical or otherwise, are by a certain degli Alberti, the same who did the " plantes " 
(plates or plans?) in the book of subterranean Rome. As for the landscapes ("gaufes 
paisages ") which are behind the figures in the copy printed by M. de Chambray, they were 
added by one Errard [Charles Errard, first director of the French Academy in Rome], 
without my knowledge. All that is good in this book might be written on a single sheet 
of paper, and that in large letters, and those who think I approve of all that is in it do 
not know me, me who profess never to give free course to things relating to my calling 
which are ill-said or ill-done." (De Chennevieres-Pointel, Recherches sur la Vie et les 
Ouvrages de quelques Peititres provinciaux, vol. iii., p. 166.) 



SKETCH IN THE 

" TRATTATO DELLA 

PITTURA." 

(Vatican Library.) 



232 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



Vatican codex, are carefully set out. Unfortunately this volume is 
disfigured by a great deal of coarse and unfair abuse of Dr. 
Richter. 

As a result of Ludwig's researches we find that the fragments of 
the Trattato printed by Dr. Richter form 662 paragraphs, while the 
Vatican MS. runs to 944. The text of 225 paragraphs is identical 
both in the collected manuscripts and the Vatican copy. 

This great encylopsedia of painting contains eight books : i., On 

Poetry and Painting ; ii., 
On Precepts for the 
Painter ; iii., On Ana- 
tomy, Proportions, &c. ; 
iv., On Drapery; v., On 
Light and Shadow; vi., 
On Trees and Verdure ; 
vii., On Clouds ; viii.. 
On the Horizon. 

The major part of 
Book i is devoted to a 
comparison of painting 
with poetry ..." Sicut 
pictura poesis " . . . 
" Painting is poetry 
which one can see, but 
cannot hear ; poetry is 
painting which one can 
hear, but cannot see." 
" A picture is a mute 
poem, and a poem a blind 
picture" (c. 20, 2i).2 But Leonardo pushes his comparison too far 

1 There is, unhappily, no French translation in which artists and amateurs might note 
the numerous and important additions to the Trattato contained in the autographs and 
in the Vatican codex. In France we have still perforce to content ourselves with Gault 
de Saint-Germain's very incomplete version. This reproach, is, I am glad to hear, m the 
way of being shortly removed by M. Rouveyre, who has done so much for students of 
Leonardo. 

- In Lodovico Dolce's Aretino, Pietro Aretino reminds us that certain men of talent 
have called the painter a mute poet, and the poet a talking painter. 




ENGRAVING OF INTERLACED ORNAMENT, INSCRIBED ACADEMIA 
LETNAKDl VINCI." 



(The Arabrosiana, Milan.) 



THE "TREATISE ON PAINTING" 



233 



when he declares that poetry is supremely suitable for the deaf! 
(cap. 28). 

The arguments used by Leonardo in favour of painting offer a 
certain analogy with those set forth about the same time by Baldassare 
Castiglione, in the Cortegiano. I mean that occasionally they have a 
somewhat prosaic quality, rather than one of high philosophical specu- 
lation. Hear what he 
says on the question of 
visual illusion. " I have 
seen a portrait so like 
that the favourite dog 
of the original took 
it for his master and 
displayed every sign 
of delight ; I have 
also seen dogs bark 
at painted dogs and try 
to bite them ; and a 
monkey make all sorts 
of faces at portraits of 
his own kind ; I have 
seen swallows on the 
wing attempt to settle 
on iron bars painted 
across the painted win- 
dows of painted houses " 
(cap. 14). 

In another section 
(13) Leonardo brings out the omnipotence of the painter. When 
he wants to see such beauties as excite his love, he can 
create them for himself; if he should wish to see monstrous 
and terrific things, or absurd and laughable things, or things 
which excite compassion, again he is sovereign and divine (" n' 
e signore e dio ") ; he can create countries teeming with population, 
or deserts, places dark and shady with trees, or blazing with the 
sun, &c. 




HEAD OF AN OLD MAN CROWNED WITH LAUREL. 

(Windsor Library.) 



234 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 




SKETCH IN THE TRATTATO DELLA 
PITTURA." 



(Vatican Library.) 



These transcendental considerations are followed up by com- 
parisons between painting and music, painting and sculpture. 

The more or less idle question, whether painting was superior to 
sculpture, or " vice versa," was passionately 
discussed all through the Renaissance. Half 
f -^y/^y^ .1.^^^^ a century, at least, before Leonardo, Leone 

— yf^^ i V\Lt>w-^ Battista Alberti had pronounced in favour of 
painting.^ 

Leonardo accords the palm to the same art. 
" Sculpture," he says, " is not a science, but a 
mechanical art, if there is one, for it makes 
the sculptor sweat, and gives him bodily 
fatigue. The only difference I find between 
painting and sculpture is this : the sculptor 
carries out his works with more bodily fatigue than the painter, the 
painter with more mental fatigue than the sculptor " (cap. 35, 36). 

About the same time, perhaps, as Leonardo, Baldassare Castiglione 
arrived at a similar conclusion in his Cortegiano. 

A decade or two later, in 1549, a distinguished 
Florentine man of letters, Benedetto Varchi, published 
a Lezione, in which the question Qziale sia piu nob- 
ile artey la Scultura la Pittura, was discussed. 
Michelangelo wrote him a letter in which he makes 
a determined stand for his favourite art : " I say 
that the nearer painting approaches to the round, 
the better it seems to me, and the nearer the round 
approaches to painting the worse it seems. To 
me, sculpture appears the lamp of painting ; between the one and the 

1 " And truly," he cries, " is she not the queen and chief ornament of the arts. If I 
am not in error, it was from the painter that the architect took his architraves, his 
capitals, his bases, his columns, his pinnacles, and other adornments of his buildings. It 
is evidently on the principles of the painter's art that the lapidary, the sculptor, the 
jeweller, and other manual artists regulate their practice ; in short, there is no art, however 
humble, which has not some connection with painting." {Delia Pittura.) — Other points 
of sympathy between the treatises of Leonardo and Alberti have been established by 
Seibt., Hell-Dunkel (pp. 37, 38, 53). Both Alberti and Leonardo declare that black and 
white are not colours, that vigour of relief is preferable to beauty of colour, etc. See also 
C. Brun's paper in the Repertoriiivi fiir Kimsiwissenscha/t, 1892, p. 267. 




SKETCH IN THE " TRAT- 
TATO DELLA PITTURA." 



(Vatican Library). 



THE " TREATISE ON PAINTING ' 



235 



Other there is the same difference as between the sun and the 



It was long before the dispute ceased to set artists and critics by 
the ears. Vasari, Bronzino, Pontormo, Tribolo, and a crowd of others, 
Aretino^ included, took part in the fight. 
After the death of Michelangelo, who had 
ended by condemning the whole sterile 
discussion, the question of precedence was 
setded in favour of the painters, which 
brought Cellini into the lists to break a lance 
for sculpture.^ In the time of Voltaire the 

discussion was renewed by the sculptor Fal- '^ 

conet; ^ " adkuc sub judice lis est!' 




SKETCH IN THE •■TRATTATO DELLA 



PITTURA. 

(Vatican Library.) 



Leonardo distrusted inspiration. He 
thought it necessary to control and cor- 
roborate it by a criticism which never slept, a criticism exercised 
both by the artist himself and by strangers. So he begins with a 
series of precepts calculated to give the painter the greatest possible 
independence, and to make him an impartial and, as it were, out- 
side judge of his own productions. "We know, as a fact, that one 
sees the faults of others more quickly than one's own ; we even go so 
far as to blame small errors in our neighbours when 
we ourselves possess them in a still greater degree. 
To escape this ignorance, master perspective first of 
all, and then learn thoroughly the measurements of 
men and animals; become also a good architect, at least 
so far as the general forms of buildings, and of other 
things which stand upon the earth are concerned. 
These forms are, in fact, infinite. The more various 
your knowledge is, the more will your work be praised. 
Do not disdain to copy slavishly from nature those details with which 
you are not familiar." 

"To come back," he adds, "to the point from which we started, I 

^ Letfere, Milanesi's edition, p. 522. ^ ggg p_ Gauthiez, L'Aretin, p. 261. 

^ / Trattati deir Oreficeria, Milanesi's edition, p. xx.-xxxiv., 229, 233, 321, 331. 
^ See Frangois Benoit : Quas opi?iiones et qiias controversias Falconet de arte habuerif, 
Paris, 1897, p. 11-12. 




SKETCH IN THE 

" TRATTATO DELLA 

riTTURA." 

(Vatican Library.) 



236 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



tell you that you should always have beside you a flat mirror, and 
should look continually at the reflection in it of your work. Being 
reversed, the image will appeal to you as if it were done by some one 
else. By this means you will discover your faults much more readily. 
It will also be useful to leave off work pretty often and amuse yourself 
with something else. When you go back you will judge what you 
have done more fairly, for too much application lays you open to 
mistakes. Again, it is good to look at your work from a distance, for 

it then appears smaller 
and can be miore easily 
embraced as a whole by 
the eye, which will re- 
cognise discords, faults 
of proportion in limbs, 
and bad quantities in the 
colours more easily than 
when close at hand " 
(cap. 407). 

In his discussion of 
the weight to be given 
to remarks made by 
others, Leonardo, I 
should think, does some 
little violence to his own 
convictions. Seeing how 
he worked himself, it is 
pretty safe to assert that he laid very little store indeed by the advice 
of his colleagues, whether they were professional artists or amateurs. 
Did he not know more of the secrets of art than the whole of them 
put together ? The most he did was to ask, now and then, for some 
little technical guidance, as, for instance, when he took the advice 
of Giuliano da San Gallo on the process of casting in metal. 

However this may be, this is what he actually says on the function 
of criticism : " As a painter should be desirous of hearing what others 
think of his work, he should not repulse an external opinion while he 
is painting. For we can see clearly that even a man who is not 



1 




"X 




^ 


Ijr-^, 


J 


^M 


m . ^ 


Ib^ 


^ », 

#— ' 




^^^n^ 







EAU OF AN OLD MAN. 

(Windsor Library.) 



A Study of Draperies. 

(the louvre.) 




ri'i.Tted by Dr;cg 



THE "TREATISE ON PAINTING" 



237 



a painter knows how another man is shaped, and can see whether the 
latter has a humped back, or one shoulder higher than the other, or 
a nose and mouth too large, or any other natural defect. If we admit 

that men are able to discern the mistakes of nature, still more must we 

allow that they can see our faults. We know how a man may deceive 

himself about his own works. If you cannot convince yourself of this 

by examining your own productions, look at those of your neighbours, 

and you will be convinced and 

profit by their mistakes " (cap. 

75). " If you wish to escape the 

fault-finding with which painters 

visit any one who, in this or that 

branch of art, does not agree 

with their own way ot seeing 

things, you must familiarise your- 
self with the different parts of art, 

so as to conform in each to the 

judgments provoked by works of 

painting. These different parts 

will be treated of below " (cap. 
114). 

Farther on Leonardo points 
out, apparently with regret, the 
essentially subjective nature of the 
painter's " role." Two centuries 
and a half before Buffon, he shows 

the close relation between a man's character and his artistic style. 
"On the great defect of painters. — It is a great defect with artists 
to repeat the same movements, faces, and draperies in one and 
the same composition, and to give to most countenances the 
features of the author himself. I have often felt surprise at this, 
for I have known many artists who, in their figures, seem to have 
portrayed themselves, so that their own attitudes and gestures have 
been reproduced in the population of their pictures. If a painter 
is quick and vivacious in gesture and language, his figures have 
an equal vivacity. If he is pious, his figures, with their drooped 




HEAD OF AN OLD MAN. 

(The Louvre.) 




238 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

heads, seem pious too. If he is indolent, his figures are laziness 
personified. If he lacks proportion, his figures are also badly built. 
Finally, if he is mad, the state of his mind is reflected in his work, 
which lacks cohesion and reality ; his person- 
ages look about, like people in a dream. And 
so all the distinctive features of the pictures are 
regulated by its author's character. ..." (cap. 
1 08 ; cf. cap. 186). 

Elsewhere again he denies and condemns 
realism : " Among those whose profession it is 
to paint portraits, the men who make the best 
SKETCH IN THE "TRATTATo Hkenesses are the least effectual when the com- 

DELLA PITTURA." 

(Vatican Library.) positlott of 3. historical picturc is in question" 

(cap. 58). 

The painter of the Lasl Stipper allows his spiritual tendencies to 
break out in the following paragraph, with its original conclusion : 
" A good painter should paint two things, man and the thoughts of 
man's soul. The first is an easy, the second a difficult, task, because 
the movements of the soul have to be expressed through movements 
and gestures of the limbs. To this end one should study deaf mutes, 
for their gestures are more expressive and important than those of 
other men" (cap, i8o). 

Eclectic principles are clearly formulated in the following precepts : 
" On the choice of beautiful faces. — The painter who gives beauty 
to his countenances seems to me to betray the possession of an 
uncommon gift of grace. He who does not possess it naturally may 
acquire it by a series of accidental observations, thus : watch carefully 
and choose what is good from a crowd of handsome faces, of faces, 
I mean, which seem handsome to the generality of men rather than 
those which please yourself, for you might in the latter case deceive 
yourself by selecting faces which offered analogies with your own. 
We are, as a fact, often seduced into error by these analogies, and, 
being ugly ourselves, choose faces which are not handsome, and so 
reproduce ugliness instead of beauty. Many painters do this. Faces, 
in fact, are apt to resemble those who make them. Select beauties, 
then, as I tell you, and engrave them on your minds" (cap. 137). 



THE "TREATISE ON PAINTING 



239 



An echo from the teachings of the old Florentine school — I had 
nearly said the School of Salerno— and among other things of the 
Treatise on Painting of Cennino Cennini, may be perceived in the 
advice given by Leonardo to his pupils on matters of morality and 
hygiene — just as strongly as he recommends a gregarious study of 
drawing (cap. 71), so does he preach solitude when it is a question 
of thinking out and composing a work of art (cap. 50, 58). Contempt 
of money is another of his principles (cap. 64). In short, no artist 
has ever conceived a higher idea of the dignity of art than he. 

He is often preoccupied with laws of contrast. He shows that 
the juxtaposition of beauty and ugliness heightens the effect of each 
(cap. 130, 187). He discourages, nevertheless, the mingling of melan- 
choly people with cheerful ones ; for, he adds, the law of nature is that 
we shall weep with those who weep and laugh with those who laugh, 
so laughter must be separated from tears (cap. 185). It seems to him 
equally tasteless to mix up children with old people (cap. 378, 379). 

Long before Charles Le Brun, Leonardo busied himself with the 
expression of the pa§si<5ns. Several chapters of the Treatise are 
devoted to this interesting problem. One (cap. 255) tells us how to 
represent anger, another (cap. 257) treats of the movements made when 
laughing and weeping, and describes their difference. Elsewhere 
(cap. 256) he asks himself how 
despair is to be painted, and arrives 
at the following conclusions: "A 
desperate man may be repre- 
sented holding a knife with which 
he stabs himself, after having torn 
his clothes and pulled out his hair. 
He should stand up, with the feet 
apart, the legs slightly bent, the 
body bowed and about to fall, and 
with his other hand he should tear 
open and enlarge his wound." 

As a theoretical painter, he also insists on the necessity for 
studying human expression and gesture from actual life, and not from 
models more or less trained to its display. " After mastering the 




SKETCH IN 



IE "TRATTATO DELLA PITTURA. 

(Vatican Library.) 



240 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 




HIEASUKEIMENTS OF THE HUMAN HEAI 
(Library of the Institut de France.) 



movements of the limbs, the joints, and the trunk, the movements 
of men and women require to be studied as a whole, and then we 

should, with the help of 
short notes consisting of 
a few symbols only, 
observe (and record) the 
attitudes men take in 
their excitement, and 
that without allowing 
them to see they are 
watched, for if they 
once suspect this, their 
minds will be occupied 
with the watcher, and 
they will abandon their 
previous violence and 
frankness of movement. Examples : two angry men disputing, each 
believing himself in the right ; they move their eyebrows, their arms 
and other limbs with great vigour, in gestures suitable to their 
intentions and their words. You could not force them to such a 
display if you wished to do so, nor make them simulate either this 
violent anger or any other emotion — laughter, tears, agony, admiration, 
terror, and other sentiments of the kind. To observe all this, form 
the habit of carrying a small sketch-book, the 
pages prepared with bone powder, so that by the 
help of the silver-point you may set down rapid 
notes of movements, attitudes, and even the 
grouping of spectators. You will thus learn how 
to compose scenes. And when your book is 
full, lay it on one side and preserve it for future 
use. Then take another and employ it in the 

same way " (cap. 179). 

An enemy — if there ever was one — of 
formulae, the author of the Trattato yielded 

occasionally to the temptation to impose over-narrow rules on his 
disciples. This we may see from the advice he gives on the 




(Vatican Library.) 



Portrait of an Old Man. 

(BRITISH ML'Sl-.UM.) 




Printed by Draeger, Pa 



THE "TREATISE ON PAINTING" 



241 




question of how to represent the various ages. " Children of tender 

years should be represented in brusque and awkward movement when 

they are sitting down, 

but when standing their 

attitudes should be 

timid and anxious " 

(cap. 142). — •' Old 

people should be slow 

and lethargic in move- 
ment ; when they stand, 

their knees should be 

slightly bent, and their 

feet, set parallel to each 

other and at the same 

line across the toes, 

should be placed slightly 

apart ; their bodies 

should be inclined for- 
ward, their heads 

bowed, and their arms 

not too far from their sides" (cap. 143). — "Women should be 

represented in modest attitudes, the legs together, the arms crossed, 

the head bowed. — Old women should be made to look bold and lively, 
with vehement gestures, like infernal furies. The 
movements of their heads and arms should be more 
vivacious than those of the legs" (cap. 144, 145). 

He goes on to examine the changes brought 
about by age in the proportions of the different 
members (cap. 264, etc.). 

It is surprising to find those iconographical 
formulae which occupy so large a space in the Mount 
Athos Treatise on Paintmg, and in the Rationale of 
Guillaume Durand, entirely absent from the Trat- 
tato. Leonardo followed his fancy of the moment ; 

he did not elaborate a programme, like Michelangelo or Raphael. He 

lacked the gravity, the conviction, the dramatic power, of his two 



MEASUREMENTS OF THE HUMAN 

(Accademia, Venice.) 




SKETCH IN THE ''TRAT- 
TATO DELLA TITTURA." 

(Vatican Library.) 



242 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 




great rivals. We could not imagine him painting a Crucifixion or a 
Last Judgment. For him the history of Mary and of Jesus is no 
more than a pretext for exquisite idylls, in which he elaborates the 
joys of maternity and the innocence of childhood. The Old Testa- 
ment is a closed book for him, with -the single exception of the 
Deluge incident. This he treated in a fashion which betrayed the 
naturalist behind the artist. Once, and once only, did he treat a 
fundamental event in the history of Christianity, the institution of 
the Eucharist. It is unnecessary to add that he represented the Last 

Stipper of our Lord with a dignity, 
breadth, and eloquence, which have 
made the great work in Santa Maria 
delle Grazie the highest and most 
perfect rendering of this cardinal 
event. 

Although iconography, and literary 
elements generally, hold so low a 
place in the Trattato del/a Pitlura, 
its author aspired to instil new life 
into allegory. While accepting certain traditional attributes, he set 
himself to create a new symbolism, and that a symbolism of so deep a 
subtlety that his own contemporaries could scarcely have understood it.^ 
On one occasion he gives a receipt for the concoction of monsters ("un 
animal finto"). "No animal exists," he says, "whose limbs, taken 
separately, offer no resemblance to those of any other animal. If you 
wish to give a look of probability to an imaginary animal (say a ser- 
pent) give it the head of a mastiff or a setter, the eyes of a cat, the ears 
of a porcupine, the nose of a greyhound, the eyebrows of a lion, the 
temples of an old cock, and the neck of a tortoise" (cap. 421).^ 

Following close upon what we may call pictorial aesthetics, we find 
practical advice, technical recipes, and those secrets of practice which 
are discovered with so much labour and so easily lost. Here Leonardo 



SKETCH IN THE 'TRATTATO DELLA PITTURA. 

(Vatican Library.) 



^ See below, the chapters on Leonardo and the aniique, and on Leonardo and 
the occult sciences. Also cf. my Histoire de V Art pendant la Renaissance, vol. ii , p. 124. 

2 A drawing in the Uffizi (Braun, no. 451) represents a dragon springing on a lion; 
in the background, two pen sketches of the Virgin holding the Child. The authenticity 
of this drawing seems to me doubtful. 



THE "TREATISE ON PAINTING" 



243 




SKETCH IN THE TRATTATO DELLA PITTURA. 

(Vatican Library.) 



gives proof of great experience and of an admirable fertility of re- 
source. Whether it is a question of perspective, of colour, or of 
chiaroscuro, he generously pours out 
the discoveries of a long career of 
ardent investigation. As if is clearly 
impossible to summarise here many 
hundreds of paragraphs, rich both in 
facts and ideas, it must suffice to select 
a few passages which throw light on 
our hero's ingenuity and the extreme 
interest of his work. 

In a most interesting paper, for 
which one of my own publications sup- 
plied the "apropos," M. Felix Ravaisson 

describes the methods of teaching recommended by Leonardo.^ He 
advises that the hand should first be exercised in copying drawings 
by good masters ; and then, after receiving the teacher's advice (it is 
Leonardo who speaks, and he clearly means " after the teacher has 
pronounced the pupil ready to take a further step ") in drawing 
from good works in the round (cap. 63, 82). " In the fiirst of these 
two passages," says M. Ravaisson, " Leonardo confines himself to 
recommending the pupil to draw, not from nature, but from good 
works of art, which will prepare him for the observation and compre- 
hension of what nature has to give." In the 
second passage, he divides this first stage into 
two, and adds that the works to be copied at 
first should not be objects in relief, such as 
pieces of sculpture, but drawings, in which 

everything is translated into the flat 

So, too, he recommends that the parts should 
be drawn separately before attempting the 
whole. " If you wish to mount to the top of 
a building, you must go up step by step, 
and so it is, I tell you frankly, with the art of drawing. If you wish 
really to understand the forms of things, you must begin with their 

^ Revue politique et litteraire, 1887, p. 628. 

I I 2 




(Vatican Library,) 



244 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



parts, and must not go on to the second until you are master, both in 
mind and hand, of the first. If you do otherwise you lose your 
time, or at least, you prolong your period of study. Accuracy must 
be learnt before rapidity." 

As Leonardo, in the Tratlato, never wearies of asserting that 
the painter should be universal (cap. 52, 60, 61, y^)^ 7^. 79)> ^^^ 

have every right to be- 
lieve that the teach- 
ing he gave was ency- 
clopaedic. 

No artist's eye has 
seen more profoundly 
than his into the mys- 
teries of light ; no artist's 
brain has more clearly 
formulated its rules. In 
him painter and op- 
tician were combined, 
as the result of innu- 
merable experiments. 
Nothing escaped him — 
sunlight effects, rain 
effects, effects of mist 
and dust, variations of 
the atmosphere (book 
iii). He investigated 
the changes undergone 
by the tones of nature, by watching them through coloured glasses 
(cap. 254). 

The book devoted to light and shadow is of peculiar subtlety. 
Only the eye of Leonardo could distinguish so many shades of differ- 
ence. This we may see from the following paragraph. " There are 
three kinds of shadows. One kind is produced b) a single point of 
light, such as the sun, the moon, or a flame. The st ond is produced 
by a door, a window, or other opening through which a large part of 
the sky can be seen. The third is produced by such a universal light 




A SHEET OF SKETCHES. 

(Bonnat Collection, Paris.) 



THE "TREATISE ON PAINTING" 



245 



as the illumination of our hemisphere when the sun Is not shining " 
(cap. 569).! 

The teaching of perspective occupies a large section of the 
Trattato. Leonardo 
divides it into three 
kinds : " linear perspec- 
tive (prospettiva liniale), 
the perspective of colours, 
and aerial perspective ; 
otherwise called the 
diminution in the dis- 
tinctness of bodies, the 
diminution of their size, 
and the diminution of 
their colour. The first 
has its origin in the eye, 
the two others in the veil 
of air interposed between 
the eye and the object." ^ 
Long before Albert 
Diirer, to whom the in- 
vention of the camera 
lucida is usually ascribed, 
the Florentine master 
contrived an easy way 
of drawing figures in 
perspective with the help 
of a sheet of glass. He 
describes the process in 
the Codex Atlanticus, 
and in the Trattato.'^ 




GROTESQUE FIGURE. 

(Windsor Library.) 



^ Richter, vol. i., p. 16. — The laws of aerial perspective are very clearly laid down in 
cap. cclxii. 

2 Govi, Saggio, p. 13. — On Leonardo's studies in perspective, see Brockhaus, De 
Sculpturd, von Pomponius Gauricics^ p. 46-48. 

^ Leonardo's researches in chiaroscuro have been analysed by Seibt : Hell-Dunkel \ 
Frankfort A.M., 1885, p. 33-53. 



246 . LEONARDO DA VINCI 

The author of the Trattato devoted much study to the preparation 
of pigments. Unfortunately, the results of his investigations in that 
direction have only reached us in a very fragmentary condition. 

We have seen that fresco did not appeal to him. On the other 
hand, unlike Michelangelo, he was passionately attached to the oil 
medium. He was the first to win a full harmony and transparency of 
tone, and to obtain effects of chiaroscuro which even now, after four 
centuries have passed, still transport us with admiration. But these 
" tours de force " were dearly bought. The master demanded more 
from oil painting than it could give. He applied it Indifferently to easel 
pictures and to monumental wall paintings. The Last Supper, the 
Vierge aux Rockers, the Belle Ferroniere, and the Mona Lisa are all 
in a sad state ; such as are not blackened are covered with cracks. 

In this respect Leonardo's Influence worked nothing but harm. 
His 'Imitator Raphael, who followed the excellent and far-seeing 
practice of the Umbrians In his early work, relaxed such wise pre- 
cautions more and more towards the end of his career. Lamp-black, 
which he used so recklessly, especially In the Louvre St. Michael, did 
as much damage as bitumen has had to answer for In our own day. 
Among the Venetians — who, by the way, contrary to usual belief, 
practised tempera concurrently with oil-painting, there are many 
canvases, especially those of Tintoretto, which look like vast slabs of 
Ink, And how many victims the same deplorable practice has 
made even In our own century ! 

In the researches carried on by Leonardo In his "role" as an artist 
and chemist In combination, the archaeologist also finds an opportunity. 
We shall see. In the chapter devoted to the Battle of Anghiari, that 
the master, making use of a passage In Pliny, endeavours to recover the 
secret of painting in encaustic. Nothing came of it. His attempts 
failed, and greatly discouraged, he never carried his work beyond 
the sketch. 

As precursor of Corregglo and the Dutchmen, Leonardo pointed 
out how night effects should be managed. " Do you want to paint a 
night scene ? Represent a great fire, and give to the objects nearest 
to It the same colour as the fire ; the nearer one thing Is to another, 
the more It participates in Its colour" (cap. 146). 



HIS STUDIES OF PROPORTIONS 247 

Landscape filled a large place in the thoughts of Leonardo. His 
oldest-dated drawing — an Alpine view — bears witness to the efforts he 
made in that direction, even in his youth ! In the Trattato he often 
reverts to the subject. According to him, landscapes should be so 
represented that the trees are half in light, half in shadow, but the best 
way is to paint them when the sun is hidden by clouds, so that the 
trees may be illuminated by the general light of the sky, and shadowed 
by the universal shadow of the earth. " And these," he adds, " will be 
most obscure in the parts nearest to the centre of the tree, and to the 
earth." 1 

His studies of the proportions and movements of the human figure 
were intended to complete the Trattato. For the most part these 
researches were carried out between the years 1489 and 1498. At 
this latter date, Pacioli notes the completion of Leonardo's work in 
the dedication to his own De divina Proportione (" Leonardo da 
Vinci .... havenda gia con tutta diligentia al degno libro de pictura 
e movimento humani posto fine ^ "). 

Naturally enough, Leonardo made use of the labours of his Greek 
and Roman predecessors. But on one occasion of his taking count of 
antique opinions he was ill-inspired. Basing himself on Vitruvius, he 
adopted eight heads, or ten faces, as the normal height of the human 
figure (cap. 264, etc.). Now this calculation is false. Modern 
science has proved that the normal height equals seven and a half 
heads, or, at most, seven and three quarters. As for the head itself, 
he divided it into 248,832 (?) parts, 12 grades, subdivided into 12 
" punti," 12 "aminuti," 12 "minimi," and 12 "semi-minimi."^ 

All these studies of proportion have come down to us, partly in the 
manuscripts of Leonardo himself, partly in the echoes of his ideas to 
be found in Pacioli's treatise, De divina Proportione. 

^ Manuscript G, folio 19. 

2 Leonardo commenced the book entitled De Figura umana on April 2, 1489 
(Richter, vol. ii., p. 415). — Zeising gives a very short resume of Leonardo's theory of 
proportions in his Neue Lehre von den Proporliotien des menschliche7i Korpers (Leipzig, 
1854, p. 5°)- 

^ One might be tempted to believe that the engravings of FraGiocondo {M. Vitruvius 
per Jomndum, 151 1), and of Cesare Cesariano {Di Lucio Vitruvio Pollione de Architectura 
Libri decent; Como, 1521, fol. L), were taken from Leonardo's drawing of a man 
standing in a circle with outstretched arms and legs. It was not so. The engravings in 
question proceed naturally and inevitably from the text of Vitruvius. 



248 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 



A few words, before going farther, on this very common-place 
satellite of the great Leonardo. 

Luca Pacioli was born at Borgo San Sepolcro in 1450 ; he was 
therefore two years older than da Vinci. A compatriot of Piero della 
Francesca, he began, like him, with the study of mathematics, and 
pushed his admiration of his teacher and fellow townsman so far as to 
appropriate Piero's Tradatus de qiiinque Corporibus} Entering the 

Franciscan order, he 
lived sometimes in 
Rome, where he enjoyed 
the hospitality of L. B. 
Albert!, sometimes at 
Perugia, where from 
1477 to 1480, and from 
1487 to 1 48 1, he filled 
the chair of mathema- 
tics in the University. 
He also appeared now 
and then at Naples, at 
Florence, at Padua, at 
Assisi, and at Urbino.^ 
His Sujnma de Arith- 
metica appeared at 
Venice in 1494, with a dedication to Guidobaldo of Urbino.^ Here 
Pacioli betrays himself as the most insipid of bookmakers, as well 
as a gossip and general blunderer.* His Latin is barbarous and his 

1 The fact of these borrowings has been estabUshed by Hubert Janitschek in the 
Kunstchronik of 1878 (no. 42), and by Jordan in the Jahrhich for 1880, vol. i., 
p. 1 1 2-1 18. See also Winterberg and Uzielli (second edition, vol. i., p. 45')- ^e must 
not forget, however, that Pacioli, far from concealing his indebtedness to Piero, proclaims 
it with enthusiasm : " E anco con quelle prometto darve piena notitia de prospectiva 
medianti li documenti del nostro conterraneo et contemporale di tal facolta ali tempi 
nostri Monarca Maestro Petro de Franceschi, di la qual gia feci dignissimo compendio 
e per noi ben apreso. E del suo caro quanto fratello Maestro Lorenzo Canozo da 
Lendenara." (Winterberg's edition, p. 123.) 

2 Uzielli, 2nd edition, vol. i., pp. 388 et seq. 

3 See Narducci, Intorno a due Ediziorii della Sianma de Arithmetka di Fra Luca 
Pacioli, Rome, 1863. 

4 His last biographer, M. Uzielli, nevertheless credits him with having popularised 
the highest branches of mathematics. 




MODEL OF LETTER COMPOSED BY LEONARDO FOR THE TREATISE DE 
DIVINA I'ROPORTIONE." 



FRA LUCA PACIOLI 



249 



Italian unworthy of a Milanese, to say nothing of a Tuscan. In 
spite of his mediocrity he was, however, superior to Leonardo in 
one point — he gave the results of his labours to the world, while the 
greater master jealously guarded his from the knowledge of his 
contemporaries. 

The fact that Pacioli never refers to Leonardo in his preface, while 
he mentions a crowd of other living artists, ^ justifies us in supposing 
that his acquaintance with the great painter did not begin till 
later. It was not, in 
fact, until 1496 that he 
entered the service of 
the Sforzi. Lodovico 
appointed him professor 
of arithmetic and geo- 
metry in the University 
of Pavia. His pay was 
modest enough, for while 
a professor of civil law 
enjoyed an annual salary 
of 3,600 lire, he received 
no more than 310. From 
1496 to 1499 Pacioli 
worked side by side with 
Leonardo, to whom he 
devotes a generous eulo- 
gium in his De Divina 
Proportioned' After the 
fall of Lodovico, Pacioli 
quitted Milan at the same time as Leonardo. In 1500 we find him 

^ I reprinted this preface in Les Archives des Arts, p. 34 ef seq. In one of those 
now incomprehensible memoranda with which he filled his notebooks, Leonardo writes, 
"Learn the multiplication of roots from Maestro Luca." Richter, vol. ii., p. 433. 

2 Finished in December, 1497. The dedication is dated February, 1498. The work 
was not published until 1509. The Divina Proportione itself is followed by " Libellus in 
tres partiales tractatus divisus quinque corporum regularium et dependentium, activse 
perscrutationis, D. Petro Soderino principi perpetuo populi florentini, a M. Luca Paciolo 
Burgense Minoritano particularitur dicatus. Feliciter incipit." (27 folios.) Next come 

K K 




GROTESQUE HEADS. 

(Windsor Library.) 



250 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

living once more at Perugia, and afterwards with da Vinci at 
Florence.^ Here, in 1509, he dedicated to the Gonfaloniere Soderini 
his Divina Proportione, which had previously borne a dedication to 
II Moro, In the meantime, between 1500 and 1505,^ he had been 
teaching at Pisa, and had, in 1508, put in an appearance at Venice. 
In 1510 we find him again in Perugia, after which all trace of him 
is lost. 

The following headings will give some idea of the contents of this 
strange compilation. Perspective, like music, and for the same reason, 
forms a branch of mathematics (book i, chapter iii). How to divide 
a dimension, according to the rules of proportion, into a medium part 
and two extreme parts (chapter viii). How the hexagon and decagon 
form between them a dimension susceptible of division according 
to the rules of proportion (chapter xvi).^ 

I must make some reference to the figures inserted in the text of 
the Divina Proportione. Setting aside the separate plates, they are all 
geometrical diagrams, except those of fol. 25, v°-, a man's head In 
profile, turned to the left, and geometrically divided. We have already 
said something about Leonardo's share in the production of these 
engravings. 

We know from the evidence of Geoffroy Tory, brought to light by 
the Marchese d'Adda and M. Dehio,^ that the initials in Pacioli's 

the plates, printed only on one side of the leaf. The first, inscribed " Divina Proportio," 
is the male head described below ; next come twenty-three plates numbered from A to Y ; 
and finally three plates, the first columns, the second entablatures, the third " Porta 
templi domini dicta speciosa. Hierosolomis." There are besides some geometrical 
diagrams. Note that the majority of the initials contain those interlaced ornaments so 
dear to Leonardo. 

^ De Architectural ed. Winterberg, p. 144. — Mariotti, Lettere pittoriche perugifie, 
p. 127. 

2 Fabroni, Historia Academice. Fisancp., vol. i., p. 392. 

^ A German savant, Herr Winterberg, has had the courage to translate this chaotic 
work, and to expound its fundamental law, the Golden Section, a magic formula, which, 
it is asserted, enables the student to establish the value of any work of art by means of 
three propositions ! This was an honour certainly undreamt of by the humble Pacioli ! 

* Repertorium fiir KunstwisseJischaft, 1881, p. 269-279. — " Frere Lucas PacioU de 
Bourg sainct Sepulchre, de I'ordre des freres mineurs et ihe'ologien, qui a faict en vulgar 
italien un libre intitule Divina Proportione, et qui a volu figurer lesdictes lettres 
Attiques, n'en a point aussi parle ne bailie raison : et je ne m'en ebahis point, car j'ay 
entendu par aulcuns Italiens qu'il a desrobe sesdictes lettres, et prinses de feu messire 



Head of a Young IVoJuaii. 




Printed by Draeg^ 



HIS STUDIES IN PHYSIOGNOMY 251 

treatise were designed by, nay, that their type was the invention of 
Leonardo. Inspired, no doubt, by a passage in Vitruvius, which 
advises that buildings should be given proportions analogous to those 
of the human body, he chose to divide his letters into ten parts, just as 
he had done with the human figure. 

As early as 15 14 Sigismondo Fanti, of Ferrara, made no scruple of 
appropriating the new system of proportion of Leonardo's letters in 
his Theorica et Pratica perspicassimi Sigismimdi de Fantis Ferrariensis 
in artein mathematice professoris de modo scribendi fabricandiqiie omnes 
litterarum species (Venice, 15 14, book iv.). The alphabet he publishes 
offers some variations upon that of Leonardo — the letter E, for 
instance, is without the circle traced in the inner angle of the base, and 
the other circles are sensibly different in proportion — but in spite of 
that, it is based on the master's system. 

But to return to the master. 

Studies of physiognomy follow those on proportion and anatomy. 
Here again Leonardo gives himself up to the most miscellaneous 
investigations. His countless caricatures are simply illustrations of a 
theory, unhappily never worked out. The system which governed the 
conception of the Last Supper inspired these researches also. Lomazzo, 
whose authorities were the intimates {domestici) of Leonardo, tells us 
that " one day the artist, wishing to introduce some laughing peasants 
into a picture, made choice of certain individuals whose features 
appeared suitable for his purpose. Having made their acquaintance, 
he then invited them and other friends of his to a banquet, where, 
sitting near them, he related a number of the maddest and most laugh- 
able stories he could think of, making them scream with laughter, 

Leonard Vinci, qui est trespasse' a Amboise et estoit tres excellent philosophe et admirable 
painctre et quasi ung autre Archimede. Cedict frere Lucas a faict imprimer ses lettres 
attiques comme siennes . . . . De vray, elles peuvent bien estre a luy, car il ne les a pas 
faictes en leur deue proportion. A veult avoir sa jambe droite grosse de la dixiesme 
partie de sa hauteur . . . . et non pas de la neuvieusme partie, comme diet frere Lucas 
Paciolus . . .• . I'ay entendu que tout ce qii'il en a faict il a prins secretement de feu 
Messire Leonard Vinci, qui estoit grant mathe'maticien, painctre et imageur." (Champ- 
fleury, edition of 1529, fols. 13, 35, 41 v°.) The Marchese d'Adda has skilfully defended 
Pacioli against the accusation of plagiarism, {Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1868, vol. ii. 
P- 134. 

K K 2 



252 



LEONARDO DA VINCI 




SKETCH FROM THE ' TRATTATO DEI. LA riTTURA 
(Valican Library.) 



although they could scarcely have told what they were laughuig 
at. Upon him, none of the looks and gestures provoked by his tales 
were lost ; afterwards, when these guests had departed, he retired 
to his own house, and drew them in such a skilful manner that his 

drawings made those who saw them 
laugh as heartily as the stories had 
made the guests laugh at the ban- 
quet. Unfortunately this composi- 
tion never proceeded farther than the 
sketch." 

This fantastic experiment recalls 
a picture by one of the primitive 
Milanese, Michelino da Besozzo, who 
painted a group of two peasant men 
and two peasant women convulsed 
with laughter. About the same period, Bramante ventured on a similar 
subject: he represented Democritus laughing and Heraclitus weeping. 
Lomazzo also tells us that Leonardo used to be fond of watching 
the looks and gestures of prisoners going to execution. He made 
careful notes of their eye-movements, of the contractions of their 
brows, and of the involuntary quivering of 
their muscles. 

These studies have been quite erroneously 
called caricatures. They are fragments — 
great fragments — of a treatise on physiognomy. 
Leonardo had too lofty an intelligence to be 
content with making mere frivolous combina- 
tions, good for nothing but to provoke a laugh 
— an impulse, moreover, quite foreign to the 
Italians of the Renaissance — but he felt a 
deep and passionate interest in the laws which 
govern the physical eccentricity as well as the 
perfection of the human race. 

Hence we find that, long before Grandville, he had a glimpse 
of the true relation between certain human deformities and animal 




THE PROPORTIONS OF THE HUMAN 
HEAD, DRAWN BY LEONARDO FOR 
PACIOLI'S TREATISE. 



THE SO-CALLED CARICATURES 



253 




SKETCH FROM THE"tRATTATO PELLA 
PITTUKA." 



(Vatican Library.) 



types. The old man with a bull-dog's face, the old woman with a 
bird's head, are in his view reflections from an inferior species ; he 
goes so far as to seek in the human countenance for analogies 
with web-footed animals and even crustaceans. A step farther, and 
we should have been tempted to talk of 
evolution, and to compare him with Darwin.^ 
Modern writers have judged this part 
of Leonardo's work with great severity. 
" We can hardly say that he has even 
skimmed the surface of the subject," says 
one.^ Another formally condemns one of 
the laws laid down in the Trattato. " The 
following passage," he declares, " shows 
how empty and false were the ideas of 

Leonardo on the difference which exists between the laughing 
and the weeping countenance: he who sheds tears unites the eyebrows 
at their junction, knits them closely, forms wrinkles above them, 
and drops the corners of the mouth ; on the other hand, he who 
laughs lifts them [the corners of the mouth] and expands them, 
while he raises the eyebrows and draws them apart." ^ 

We see, then, that the Trattato della PitttLra forms a perpetual 
commentary on the artistic activity of Leonardo. It is a collection of 
subtle ideas and practical counsels, of scientific observa- 
tions in which the spirit of analysis is pushed to its 
extreme limits, and of those concrete guesses or in- 
tuitions which reveal the artist of genius. In spite 
of the occasional minuteness of its instructions, it is 
better fitted to stimulate the mind than to act as a 
practical guide and formulary. In its great suggestive- 
ness it is addressed rather to those artists who love 
to think for themselves, than to those who are content to accept ready- 




SKETCH FROM THE 

" TRATTATO DELLA 

PITTURA." 

(Vatican Library.) 



1 In 1586, the Neapolitan G. B. Porta published his De Humana Physiognomonia 
Libri iv., in which he establishes relations between the features of certain men and 
animals. He quotes Aristotle, Pliny, e tiitti quanti. 

2 A. Lemoine, De la Physmiomie et de la Parole, Paris, 1865, p. 29. 

3 Piderit, La Mvniqiie et la Physionoiiiie, pp. 26, 99, 152. [French tr.] 



254 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

made formulae. It must be confessed that no school has felt its in- 
spiration less than that formed by Leonardo himself, whose immediate 
pupils — Boltraffio, Marco d'Oggiono, Salai, Melzi — never allowed any 
hard thinking to disturb their equanimity. 

We must not forget, however, that in Leonardo's atelier, theoretical 
teaching was always supplemented by practical and direct oral instruc- 
tion. The master took pupils, or rather apprentices, to live in his 
house. His " terms" were 5 lire a month, a very modest sum when 
we remember all the discomforts and responsibilities which then at- 
tended the taking of apprentices.^ Hear what Leonardo says himself 
of the troubles this system brought upon him ; It confirms what we 
already know of his placidity. " Glacomo came to live with me on 
the feast of S. Mary Magdalen, 1490. He was ten years old. The 
second day, I ordered two shirts, a pair of hose, and a doublet 
for him. When I put aside the money to pay for these things, he 
took it out of my purse ; I was never able to make him confess the 
robbery, although I was certain of it. A thieving, lying, pig-headed 
glutton. Next day I supped with Glacomo Andrea and the said Glacomo; 
he ate for two and did mischief for four, for he broke three flasks and 
upset the wine, and then came and supped where I was. Item : on 
the 7th of September he stole a stylus worth 22 soldi from IMarco's 
studio, while he (Marco) was with me ; afterwards, the said Marco, 
after a long search, found it hidden in the said Giacomo's box. 
Lira I, soldi 2. Item: on the 26th of January following, while I 
was with Messer Galeazzo da San Severino arranging his joust, and 
while certain footmen were undressing in order to try on some cos- 
tumes of savages. In which they had to appear, Glacomo crept near 
the wallet of one of them, which was lying on the bed with other 
effects, and stole a few coppers which he found In it. Lire 2, 
soldi 4. Ite7n : IV^sser Agostino da Pavia having given me, in the 
said house, a Tur^sh skin to make a pair of shoes, this Glacomo stole 
it before the rrionth was out, and sold it to a cobbler for 20 soldi, 

1 "On March 14, 1494, Galeazzo came to live with me, agreeing to pay 5 lire a 
month for his cost, paying on the 14th day of each month. His father gave me two 
Rhenish florins." (Richter, vol. ii., p. 440.) 



Portrait of Leonardo da Unci, by Himself. 



(kOVAI. LIBIJAKV. TIRIN.) 



RUH^KPH^H^S^ 



14 

Studies in P7^op07'tion. 

(WI.N'DSOK LIBRARY.) 




Printed by Draeger, Paris. 



LEONARDO'S PUPILS 255 

and, as he himself confessed to me, bought sweetmeats with the 
money. Lire, 2. Item : on the 2nd of April, Gian-Antonio left a 
silver stylus lying on one of his drawings, and Jacopo stole it ; it 
was worth 24 soldi. Lira i, soldi 4." ^ 

Certain other pupils of Leonardo's, besides Salai, Melzi, Marco 
d'Oggiono and Boltraffio, to whom I shall return later, are known to us 
by the master's autograph notes, or by other ^documentary evidence. 
Among them were one Galeazzo (1494), mentioned only by name ; two 
Germans : "Julio Tedesco," who entered the studio March 16, 1493,^ 
and "Gorgio Tedesco" (1504-1515) f finally one Lorenzo (1505), aged 
seventeen.^ The Florentine Riccio della Porta della Croce and the 
Spaniard Ferrando were the master's assistants when he was working 
on the Battle of Anghiari. 

Leonardo was not fortunate enough to have a pleiad of engravers 
around him, like the band who worked for Raphael under the direction 
of Marc Antonio.^ But indeed his compositions, so much less literary 
than those of Raphael, could not have failed to lose enormously in 
reproduction. Their beauty lay mainly in suavity of expression, 
delicacy of modelling, and charm of colour. If the rude and 
monotonous processes of early Italian engraving sufficed, as Emile 
Galichon has happily said, for the rendering of Mantegna's austerity, 
and Botticelli's somewhat acrid beauty, " it was powerless as yet to 
translate the indescribable grace of Leonardo's women. Hence it 
was that Leonardo and his pupils used the burine merely by way of 
experiment." 

Only five or six early engravings of the Last Supper have survived, 

^ Charles Ravaisson-MoUien, Les Manuscrits de Leonard de Vinci, vol. iii., fol. 15. — 
Cf. Richter, vol. ii., p. 438-439. 

2 Richter, Leonardo, p. 50; and The Literary Works, vol. ii. p. 438-439. 

2 Raphael, p. 415. 

* Amoretti, p. 91. 

^ On the engravings attributed to Leonardo see above, vol. i. p. 219-221, and on the 
engravings of the Milanese School, Renouvier : Des Types et des Manieres des Maitres 
Graveurs au xv' Siecle, p. 51-54. Montpellier, 1853. — Duplessis : De quelques Estampes 
de Vancienne Ecole milanaise, in the Revue Universelle des Arts, vol. xv. p. 145-164. — 
Galichon : Gazette des Beaux- Arts, 1865, vol. i. — D'Adda : Gazette des Beaux Arts, 
Oct. 1863; November, 1864; August, 1868. — Comte Delaborde : La Gravure en Ltalie 
avanf Marc Antoi7ie, p. 184-188. 



256 LEONARDO DA VINCI 

and they are by anonymous hands. The Madonnas, the 5". John, the 
Battle of Angkiari, and the portraits, first engaged the attention of 
engravers at a comparatively late period. 

The Trattato (cap. 36) contains a passage which affords an 
instructive glimpse into the studio of Leonardo. The painter, we are 
there told, sits comfortably before his work and drives his brush, with 
its load of beautiful colour, at his ease. He dresses to please himself. 
His dwelling is clean and neat, and full of fine pictures. He often 
has musicians to keep him company, ^ or readers who, ignoring the 
sound of the hammers, recite works of literature to the delight of those 
present. 

1 It would seem, therefore, that Vasari told the truth when he said that Ivconardo 
surrounded Mona Lisa with musicians as he worked upon her portrait. 




STUDY OF FLOWERS. 

(Windsor Library.^ 



END OF VOL. I. 



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