Literary Category: history, literary theory and criticism
Synopsis: “Many of the manuscripts on human anatomy are in the possession of Francesco Melzi, a Milanese gentleman, who was a handsome man during Leonardo’s lifetime and to whom the latter professed a great love. Francesco appreciates and keeps these works as relics of Leonardo, along with the portrait of this artist in his happy memory.”
With these words, Giorgio Vasari, one of the first art historians and author of the biographies of the Italian artists during the Renaissance, claims that there exists a portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci that Francesco Melzi, pupil, secretary and executor of the Florentine artist, kept upon the Master’s death. Therefore, we have a historical reference of said image.
What portrait was Vasari referring to? To the purported self-portrait that is kept in Turin’s Royal Library and that is universally recognized as such? Or instead, to the portrait that Francesco Melzi painted while his master was still alive? Are these portraits compatible? Do these faces coincide with the rest of Leonardo’s imagery, such as the Vitruvian Man in Venice or The Last Supper in Milan? Who is the man represented in the Tavola Lucana?
Throughout these pages, prefaced by the prestigious historian, Ross King, we will analyze all the theories that scholars, historian and art experts have elaborated around the image of the Florentine Master, with one sole objective in mind: to find the real face of the best well-known polymath in the history of humanity: Leonardo Da Vinci.