'I think therefore I am.'  Descartes            'I AM THAT I AM.'  Exodus.3.        'I am what I am.'  La Cage aux Folles

17 September 2010

Leonardo Da Vinci

The Great One

In addition to being one of the most intelligent and inventive persons to have existed, Leonardo is said  to have been a strikingly handsome man with great strength and a fine singing voice. The historian Vasari described him as a young man 'whose personal beauty could not be exaggerated, whose every movement was grace itself and whose abilities were so extraordinary that he could readily solve every difficulty.....with his right hand he could bend the clapper of a knocker or a horse-shoe as if it had been of lead...a spirit and courage invariably royal and magnanimous....could sing and improvise divinely...charming conversation won all hearts..'  Unlike his fellow 15th-century Italians, he was a vegetarian and followed strict dietary rules. He loved animals so much that he would buy caged animals at the market just to set them free. He was  also fond of fine clothes and practical jokes.
 Above:- Self portrait in the corner of an unfinished work and a bronze of David by his teacher Verrocchio, the model is said to have been Leonardo, as is the Botticini Saint Michael.. Other theories say that the Mona Lisa (at bottom of page) is actually the face of Leonardo and also that he painted the Shroud of Turin using his own face as that of Christ. Compare the youthful portraits of Leonardo above and also the self portrait in old age. 
Leonardo da Vinci was born on 15 April, 1452 in a farmhouse in Anchiano, in the Tuscan hills near Vinci outside Florence and was christened ‘Lionardo’.. The family had lived in this area since the 13th century. His father Ser Piero, was a 25 years old public notary. His mother Catarina was either a peasant or a barmaid, but that year Ser Piero married another woman, the first of four wives, and moved to Vinci. 

The four wives of Leonardo's father.
Albiera di Giovanni Amadai was born in 1436 and died between 1460 and 1465. At the age of sixteen she married Ser Piero. This happened in the same year as Leonardo was born. Ser Piero and Albiera didn't have any children. Francesca di Ser Giovanni Lanfredini was the second very young wife of Ser Piero. Unfortunately she died early. Margherita daughter of Francesco di Gacopo di Guglielmo was the third very young wife of Ser Piero. She was born in 1458. They had two sons.Antonio in 1476  was the first legitimate son of Ser Piero. The second son was Giulian born in 1479. Margherita died soon after 1480. Lucrezia di Guglielmo Cortigiani was the fourth wife of Ser Piero. This marriage was blessed with a large offspring. Ser Piero and Lucrezia had seven sons and two daughters. The last was born when Ser Piero was 75 the fourth wife of Ser Piero. This marriage was blessed with seven sons and two daughters. The last was born when Ser Piero was 75 Leonardo spent his first years with Catarina in Anchiano. Catarina married some years after the birth of Leonardo a man from Vinci called Acattabriga di Piero di Luca. In all he had 17 half brothers and sisters. When he was five, Leonardo moved to his grandfather in Vinci and was at last a member of his fathers family, but he was never legitimate or close to his father. The inquisitive Leonardo learned to write, to read and to calculate. Also he was taught geometry and Latin, although he never mastered it and wrote in Italian throughout his life. Leonardo lived in Vinci until 1466. At the age of 14 Leonardo moved to Florence where he began an apprenticeship in the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio  who was at this time the most gifted artist in Florence. He was a sculptor, painter, goldsmith, bronze caster and more. Leonardo worked  with other famous artists like Botticelli, Perugino and Lorenzo di Credi. There are no works of Leonardo known between 1466 and 1472, but at this time Leonardo taught himself to paint in oils, which had been developed by Dutch artists. In June 1472 Leonardo was listed in the red book of painters from Florence and with membership in the painters guild of Florence he ended his apprenticeship. Leonardo didn't leave the workshop at the end of his apprenticeship. The first known and dated work of Leonardo da Vinci is a pen-and-ink drawing of the Arno valley. Leonardo drew it on 5. August 1473.  It shows the ingenious mind of Leonardo, because he drew the landscape in a way that it could be real. Nobody else before did it in this way. There is evidence that he had his own workshop between 1476 and 1478 and that he was already involved in mechanical studies.
Leonardo's lovers.
On 8. April 1476 an anonymous person accused Leonardo of having a homosexual affair with 17 year old Jacopo Saltarelli two on left above), who was a model/ prostitute. He was held for two months but acquitted of the charge for lack of witnesses. That year he was twice denounced  for acts of sodomy. His main companion for 30 years was one of his pupils Giacomo Caprotti (centre) who was given the nickname Salai (little devil). Caprotti was 'a graceful and beautiful youth with fine curly hair, in which Leonardo greatly delighted' and was ten years old when he entered da Vinci's household. He was a thief and had no talent but he remained with Leonardo from then on and received a vineyard near Milan in the old man's will. Leonardo also later took an interest in a young aristocrat and painter, Francesco Melzi (right above), whom he adopted and to whom he left the bulk of his estate. It is generally assumed that he had sexual relations with both these devotees.  1482 Leonardo travelled to Milan ostensibly to play the lute at court but he had seen Lodovico Sforza as a better patron then the Medici's of Florence. He was full of ideas but much of his early time in Milan was spent in frivolous entertainment at court. He studied anatomy, dreamed up machines and designed towns. Sforza was captured by the French in 1499.  In the last of his 18 years in Milan he produced the great works we know today. King Francis I. invited Leonardo da Vinci to spend the last span of life in Amboise at the court of France. In autumn 1516 Leonardo arrived in Amboise. In his baggage was the famous painting Mona Lisa. Leonardo lived in Amboise in the small castle Cloux which is now called Le Clos Luce. This castle is situated between the town and the king’s castle. In France Leonardo didn't paint, but he made hydrological studies. At this time Leonardo da Vinci was 67 year old. His state of health was not the best, because Leonardo had a paralysis on the right side of his body since 1517 and historian Vasari told about an illness some weeks before Leonardo died. On 23 April 1519 Leonardo wrote his last will and died on 2 May 1519 in Amboise.  Originally Leonardo was buried in the heart of the king's castle in the cloister of San Fiorentino. After destruction of the church and parts of the castle the mortal remains of Leonardo da Vinci were transferred to the Chapel of St. Hubert  inside the castle area in Amboise and this is the last resting place of Leonardo da Vinci. In his time left-handedness was considered the devil's work and people were often forced to use their right hand. Leonardo was left handed and it has been suggested that this "difference" was an element of his genius, since his detachment allowed him to see beyond the ordinary. He even wrote backwards, and his writings are deciphered only with a mirror.

The Mona Lisa Story (pic can be enlarged)
The portrait full of mystery and secrets was painted on a 77 x 53 cm piece of poplar-wood and is the most famous work of Leonardo da Vinci. Originally the painting was larger than today, because two columns, on the left and right side have been cut, hence it is not easy to recognize that Mona Lisa is sitting on a terrace. Many details are not visible today, because parts have been damaged and painted over. It is supposed, that Francesco di Bartolommeo di Zanobi del Giocondo, one of the noblest citizen of Florence, ordered from Leonardo a portrait of his third wife Lisa di Antonio Maria di Noldo Gherardini. Leonardo started to work at this painting in 1503. At this time Mona Lisa was twenty-four year old. He worked at the portrait for the next four years. When Leonardo left Florence in 1507 he did not sell the painting but he kept it for himself. Several believe, that Leonardo did not hand over the painting, because he did not finish the work, other believe that Leonardo loved the painting to much. As mentioned above some claim it to be actually the face of Leonardo himself. He arrived with the painting in his baggage in France in the year 1516. Leonardo sold the painting to King Francis I., who bought it for the castle in Amboise. It moved to Fontainebleau, Paris, Versailles and then to the collection of Ludwig XIV. After the revolution in France the painting got a new home in the Louvre. Napoleon took it away from there and hung it in his bedroom. When Napoleon was banished Mona Lisa returned to the Louvre.
On 21 August 1911 Mona Lisa was stolen and brought to Italy, where it emerged two years later in Florence. After some exhibitions Mona Lisa returned again to Paris. Thrown acid damaged the lower half of the painting in 1956 and the restoration took several years. In the 60´s and 70´s Mona Lisa was taken to New York, Tokyo and Moscow. Today the painting is behind bullet-proof glass in the Louvre and has been moved to its own wall under special lights for better viewing. 
Have they found the skeleton of the real Mona Lisa - Check this article and the Photos.

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