Leonardo da vinci ( Part 3)

Karishma Mishra
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Location of remains

Tomb of Leonardo da Vinci in the Chapel of Saint Hubert at the Château d'Amboise, where a plaque explains that the remains are only presumed to be those of the Renaissance artist.[177]

Much of the Collegiate Church of Saint Florentin at the Château d'Amboise, where Leonardo was buried, was damaged during the French Revolution, leading to the church's demolition in 1802.[177] Some of the graves were destroyed in the process, scattering the bones interred there and thereby leaving the whereabouts of Leonardo's remains subject to dispute. While excavating the site in 1863, fine-arts inspector general Arsène Houssaye found a partially complete skeleton with a bronze ring on one finger, some white hair, and stone fragments bearing the inscriptions "EO," "AR," "DUS," and "VINC"—interpreted as forming "Leonardus Vinci".[177][89][178][179] A silver shield found near the bones depicts a beardless Francis I, corresponding to the king's appearance during Leonardo's lifetime, and the skull's inclusion of eight teeth corresponds to someone of approximately the appropriate age.[178] The unusually large skull led Houssaye to believe that he had located Leonardo's remains,[179] but he thought the skeleton seemed too short.[178] Other art historians say that the 1.73 metres (5.7 ft) tall skeleton may well be Leonardo's.[180]

The remains, except for the ring and a lock of hair which Houssaye kept,[89] were brought to Paris in a lead box, where the skull was allegedly presented to Napoleon III,[178] before being returned to the Château d'Amboise and re-interred in the Chapel of Saint Hubert in 1874.[177] A new memorial tombstone was added by sculptor Francesco La Monaca in the 1930s.[181] Reflecting doubts about the attribution, a plaque above the tomb states that the remains are only presumed to be those of Leonardo.[177] It has since been theorized that the folding of the skeleton's right arm over the head may correspond to the paralysis of Leonardo's right hand.[178][77][83] In 2016, it was announced that DNA tests would be conducted to determine whether the attribution is correct.[177] The DNA of the remains will be compared to that of samples collected from Leonardo's work and his half-brother Domenico's descendants;[177] it may also be sequenced.[182] The lock of hair and ring, now in a private US collection,[ac] were displayed in Vinci beginning on 2 May 2019, the 500th anniversary of the artist's death.

 

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Fame and reputation

Francis I of France receiving the last breath of Leonardo da Vinci, by Ingres, 1818[t]

Leonardo's fame within his own lifetime was such that the King of France carried him away like a trophy, and was claimed to have supported him in his old age and held him in his arms as he died. Interest in Leonardo and his work has never diminished. Crowds still queue to see his best-known artworks, T-shirts still bear his most famous drawing, and writers continue to hail him as a genius while speculating about his private life, as well as about what one so intelligent actually believed in.[38]

The continued admiration that Leonardo commanded from painters, critics and historians is reflected in many other written tributes. Baldassare Castiglione, author of Il Cortegiano (The Courtier), wrote in 1528: "...Another of the greatest painters in this world looks down on this art in which he is unequalled..."[166] while the biographer known as "Anonimo Gaddiano" wrote, c. 1540: "His genius was so rare and universal that it can be said that nature worked a miracle on his behalf..."[167]

Statue outside the Uffizi, Florence, created by Luigi Pampaloni (1791–1847)

Giorgio Vasari, in the enlarged edition of Lives of the Artists (1568)[168] introduced his chapter on Leonardo with the following words:

In the normal course of events many men and women are born with remarkable talents; but occasionally, in a way that transcends nature, a single person is marvellously endowed by Heaven with beauty, grace and talent in such abundance that he leaves other men far behind, all his actions seem inspired and indeed everything he does clearly comes from God rather than from human skill. Everyone acknowledged that this was true of Leonardo da Vinci, an artist of outstanding physical beauty, who displayed infinite grace in everything that he did and who cultivated his genius so brilliantly that all problems he studied he solved with ease.

The 19th century brought a particular admiration for Leonardo's genius, causing Henry Fuseli to write in 1801: "Such was the dawn of modern art, when Leonardo da Vinci broke forth with a splendour that distanced former excellence: made up of all the elements that constitute the essence of genius..."[169] This is echoed by A.E. Rio who wrote in 1861: "He towered above all other artists through the strength and the nobility of his talents."[170]

Leonardo Museum in Vinci, Italy, which houses a large collection of Leonardo's models reconstructed on the basis of his drawings.

By the 19th century, the scope of Leonardo's notebooks was known, as well as his paintings. Hippolyte Taine wrote in 1866: "There may not be in the world an example of another genius so universal, so incapable of fulfilment, so full of yearning for the infinite, so naturally refined, so far ahead of his own century and the following centuries."[171] Art historian Bernard Berenson wrote in 1896: "Leonardo is the one artist of whom it may be said with perfect literalness: Nothing that he touched but turned into a thing of eternal beauty. Whether it be the cross section of a skull, the structure of a weed, or a study of muscles, he, with his feeling for line and for light and shade, forever transmuted it into life-communicating values."[172]

The interest in Leonardo's genius has continued unabated; experts study and translate his writings, analyse his paintings using scientific techniques, argue over attributions and search for works which have been recorded but never found.[173] Liana Bortolon, writing in 1967, said: "Because of the multiplicity of interests that spurred him to pursue every field of knowledge...Leonardo can be considered, quite rightly, to have been the universal genius par excellence, and with all the disquieting overtones inherent in that term. Man is as uncomfortable today, faced with a genius, as he was in the 16th century. Five centuries have passed, yet we still view Leonardo with awe."[27]

Twenty-first-century author Walter Isaacson based much of his biography of Leonardo[104] on thousands of notebook entries, studying the personal notes, sketches, budget notations, and musings of the man whom he considers the greatest of innovators. Isaacson was surprised to discover a "fun, joyous" side of Leonardo in addition to his limitless curiosity and creative genius.[174]

On the 500th anniversary of Leonardo's death, the Louvre in Paris arranged for the largest ever single exhibit of his work, called Leonardo, between November 2019 and February 2020. The exhibit includes over 100 paintings, drawings and notebooks. Eleven of the paintings that Leonardo completed in his lifetime were included. Five of these are owned by the Louvre, but the Mona Lisa was not included because it is in such great demand among general visitors to the Louvre; it remains on display in its gallery. Vitruvian Man, however, is on display following a legal battle with its owner, the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice. Salvator Mundi was also not included because its Saudi owner did not agree to lease the work.

Karishma Mishra
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