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Thread: A New self-portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci Found

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    A New self-portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci Found

    PS: If you are convinced by the arguments displayed by the author kindly send a support-message to the author; the painting is in a very bad state and curators from washington art-gallery do not seem to care

    The main page dispalys the article in german (as the author is german aswel) but at the bottom of the page you can click for an english, french and spanish versions

    New Self-Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci found!

    In the course of my research for the book “Who is Mona Lisa? In search of her identity” I investigated not only the coat of arms, specific symbols or emblems and colours used by the different Italian dynasties of the 15th and 16th century, but also the hundreds of books of plates in which one can find the wonderful portraits from this epoch. Because over 95% of these portraits are unsigned, undated and give no information about the person depicted, art historians will make mistakes (and have made mistakes) when attributing a portrait to a painter, year or subject.

    The new portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, which was painted between 1475 and 1480 and can be found in Washington, The National Gallery of Art, was wrongly attributed to the Italian painter Cariani († 1547), because Cariani used the same kind of background for his portraits. Cariani probably knew this particular painting and was inspired by the great master, although his skill was not comparable to that of Leonardo da Vinci. The latter is in his self-portrait not only dressed like the people of that time (those who could afford it), we also know that he was very interested in the study of drapery in the 70s of the 15th century. So, in this portrait you see in the background not only a look out of the window, you also see a wall upon which a cloth is showing his great interest in the study of drapery. By the way, it probably was customary for the pupils of Andrea del Verrocchio to paint a self-portrait. We also have self-portraits of Pietro Perugino († 1523) and Lorenzo di Credi († 1537).

    In the „Web Gallery of Art“ − one of the best Art Galleries on the internet − , operated by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx, I discovered another painting of the great master, titled „TheVirgin and the Child“, which exhibits the same painting style as that of the self-portrait above. It was also created in the years 1475 - 1480. Compare the landscapes in the portrait and the painting of the Virgin with Child (Fig.1)! But not only Emil Krén and Daniel Marx have attributed this painting of the Virgin to Leonardo da Vinci. Many influential art historians have done the same like: W.E. Suida (in: Leonardo und sein Kreis, 1929, pages 15ff), B. Degenhart (in: Rivista d'Arte, Vol. XIV, 1932, pages 237ff and pages 403ff), R. L. Douglas (in: Burlington Magazine, Vol LXXXI, 1942, pages 242ff), C. L. Ragghianti (in: Critica d'Arte, Mai 1954, page 312), G. Coor (1960 verbally), L. H. Heydenreich (in: Encyclopedia of World of Art, Vol IX, page 212), G. Dalli Regoli (in: Lorenzo dei Credi, 1966, page 113 and page 197), B.B. Fredericksen and F. Zeri (in: Italian Painting in North American Collections, 1972, page 647).

    It seems only the art historians of the National Gallery of Art in Washington are attributing this painting to another painter. They have attributed it to Lorenzo di Credi. Even Fern Rusk Shapley, who compiled the Catalogue of the Italian Paintings for the National Gallery of Art in Washington in 1979, couldn't be convinced by the assumption of his colleagues at the National Gallery of Art: „... yet suggestions of his (Leonardo da Vinci's) sensitivity of expression and delicacy of execution are generally recognized in the painting − such sensitivity and delicacy as cannot matched in any of Credi's documented work.“ (in: Fern Rusk Shapley: Catalogue of the Italian Paintings, Volume 1, Washington, National Gallery of Art 1979, S. 532).

    In the paintings of Figure 2 you can see what Leonardo da Vinci looks like. These portraits were painted by Leonardo da Vinci himself, his master Andrea del Verrocchio († 1488), and co-workers of his master like Botticelli († 1510) and Francesco Botticini († 1498).

    The drawing (Figure 3), which is regarded to be a self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, is certainly not a portrait of the great master. It depicts a man at the age of 70 to 75 years. Leonardo da Vinci didn’t have the fortune to reach this age. The drawing in fact depicts either Leonardo’s father Ser Piero da Vinci or his beloved uncle Francesco da Vinci, both of whom died at the age of around 80. Some art historians instead made the ridiculous assumption that Leonardo da Vinci must have aged very quickly. The contemporaries of the great master described his looks very precisely, but they didn’t mention this phenomenon. In the following book „Leonardo - des Meisters Gemälde und Zeichnungen in 360 Abbildungen. Reihe: Klassiker der Kunst in Gesamtausgaben. 37. Bd. Stuttgart und Berlin 1931“ you find the remark (on page 398) that this portrait was definitely made at the beginning of the 90s of the 15th century. Leonardo was at that time not even 40 years old. The great painter made some further drawings of his father and/or his uncle Francesco (Figure 3a, Figure 3b, Figure 3c, Figure 3d and Figure 3e)

    However, not only is the similarity of the person in Figure 1 with the other portraits of Leonardo striking, there is further indication that this person is the great master himself: The little white dog, which was either Leonardo’s dog or the dog of his master Andrea del Verrocchio († 1488). A little white dog can also be seen in the painting “Tobias and the angel” (Figure 4, left picture, and middle picture detail), which was made in the school of Andrea del Verrocchio. The dog in this painting was depicted by Leonardo da Vinci according to the art historian David Alan Brown (see his book: Leonardo da Vinci – Origin of a genius. New Haven and London 1998). This little dog can also be seen in the painting “Tobias and the three angels” of a co-worker of Andrea del Verrocchio, Francesco Botticini. The dog can be found on the left side of the Archangel Raphael, who is nobody else than Leonardo da Vinci himself.

    Leonardo was said to have had a big heart for animals. His contemporaries described how he liked to go to the markets and buy little birds in tiny little cages. He then went outside of the cities to open their cages and give them back their freedom. In his household there were always a lot of dogs and cats to be found. There are numerous drawings made by the great master that show them jumping and rolling. Leonardo also avoided to eat meat, at least as an elderly man.

    When viewing the countryside through the window of this portrait painting, you can see the township of Fiesole in the distance. That is where the rich Florentine citizens, including Leonardo da Vinci's family, had their summer houses, and where they spent the unbearably hot summer months. Leonardo's relatives on the father's side owned property near Fiesole which was administrated by his uncle Francesco. When Leonardo visited Florence, he predominantly lived with his uncle. Nearby, on Monte Ceceri, he carried out his famous flight experiments.

    Could it be that this new portrait of Leonardo da Vinci is the same portrait mentioned by Giorgio Vasari in his famous book “Lives of seventy of the most eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects”, published in 1550, when he speaks about Francesco Melzi, the beloved pupil and heir of Leonardo da Vinci: “… (Francesco Melzi) a Milanese gentleman, who, in the time of Leonardo, was a child of remarkable beauty, much beloved by him, and is now a handsome and amiable old man, who sets great store by these drawings, and treasures them as relics, together with the portrait of Leonardo of blessed memory.” (in: Giorgio Vasari: Lives of seventy of the most eminent Painters, Sculptors and Architects, edited and annotated by E.H. and E.W. Blashfield and A.A. Hopkins. Vol. II. London 1897, S. 392)

    P.S.1: All historical sources are telling us that Leonardo da Vinci painted his portraits, paintings and beautiful portrait drawings with the right hand. There is no indication that he was left-handed. However he was better with his left hand than the normal right-handed person. For example, Leonardo sometimes wrote his documents in mirror-writing with his left hand. But he never painted with his left hand! The main historical source for this fact is Antonio de' Beatis who was the secretary of the Cardinal Luigi d' Aragona and who paid with his master a visit to Leonardo da Vinci on 10th October 1517. Luckily for us historians he used to write down everything − really everything − in his diary: „On the 10th of October 1517, Monsignor (the Cardinal Luigi d'Aragona) and the rest of us went to see, in one of the outlying parts of Amboise, Messer Leonardo da Vinci the Florentine... the most eminent painter of our time, who showed to his Eminence the Cardinal three pictures; one of a certain Florentine lady (Pacificia Brandano or Isabella Gualanda), painted from life, at the instance of the late Giuliano de' Medici; the other of the youthful St. John the Baptist; and the third of the Madonna and the Child in the lap of St. Anne, the most perfect of them all. One cannot indeed expect any more good work from him, as a certain paralysis has crippled his right hand. But he has a pupil, a Milanese, who works well enough. And although Messer Leonardo can no longer paint with the sweetness which was peculiar to him, he can still design and instruct others....“ (in: Ludwig Goldscheider: Leonardo da Vinci. London and New York 1944 (second edition), page 20).

    P.S.2: Do you want to see Leonardo da Vinci as an old man, then have a look at the following fig.: fig. 5. Albrecht Dürer jun., who was a great admirer of Leonardo da Vinci and who saw him the last time in 1506, made him immortal as apostle Paul in his famous painting „The four apostles“: fig.6. Another self-portrait of the great painter depicting him as an elderly man can be seen in fig. 7.

    Request for Support

    If you agree, that this painting is a self portraint of the great painter and genius Leonardo da Vinci, please send me an email. According to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the painting is in a very bad condition. Let's make an effort to have it recognised as what it really is: the most faithful image of this unique man Leonardo da Vinci: Email to the author

    Liste der Unterstützer (= List of Supporters)
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