Leonardo da Vinci
From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
His lesser-known works include several caricatures and grotesques.
Within Leonardo's lifetime, his extraordinary powers of invention, his "outstanding physical beauty", "infinite grace", "great strength and generosity", "regal spirit and tremendous breadth of mind" as described by Vasari, as well as all other aspects of his life, attracted the curiosity of others. One such aspect is his respect for life evidenced by his vegetarianism and his habit, described by Vasari, of purchasing caged birds and releasing them.
Leonardo had many friends who are now renowned either in their fields or for their historical significance. They included the mathematician Luca Pacioli, with whom he collaborated on a book in the 1490s, as well as Franchinus Gaffurius and Isabella d'Este. Leonardo appears to have had no close relationships with women except for his friendship with Isabella d'Este. He drew a portrait of her while on a journey which took him through Mantua, and which appears to have been used to create a painted portrait now lost.
Beyond friendship, Leonardo kept his private life secret. His sexuality has been the subject of satire, analysis, and speculation. This trend began in the mid-16th century and was revived in the 19th and 20th centuries, most notably by Sigmund Freud.
Leonardo's most intimate relationships were perhaps with his pupils Salai and Melzi, Melzi describing Leonardo's feelings for him as both loving and intensely passionate. It has been claimed since the 16th century that these relationships were of a sexual or erotic nature. Court records of 1476, when he was aged twenty-four, show that Leonardo and three other young men were charged with sodomy, and acquitted. Since that date much has been written about his presumed homosexuality and its role in his art, particularly in the androgyny and eroticism manifested in John the Baptist and Bacchus and more explicitly in a number of erotic drawings.
- Leonardo's notebooks
- Treatise on Painting
- Se la cosa amata e vile
- Leonardo da Vinci's anatomical drawings