Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Leonardo Da Vinci: He Painted the Mona Lisa, He was a Genius, and He was Gay.

Okay, it didn't come up in the Da Vinci Code, but the great scientist/artist Leonardo Da Vinci was gay.

And he had this amazing comment about art and poetry, that I thought was pretty wonderful for this month's celebration of poetry:

“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen”

Here's a great website that goes into Leonardo Da Vinci's sexuality in more detail, from which I'm sharing this:

In 1476, just as Leonardo was becoming a master in his own right, probably functioning as a partner toNotebook sketch Verrocchio, he was suddenly plagued by scandal. Along with three other young men, he was anonymously accused of sodomy, which in Florence was a criminal offense, even though in most cases the authorities looked the other way and the general culture attached little social stigma to homosexuality.

Leonardo was 24 years old at the time. The accusation specifically charged him with a homosexual interaction with one Jacopo Saltarelli, a notorious prostitute. The charges were brought in April, and for a time Leonardo and the other defendants were under the watchful eye of Florence's "Officers of the Night"--a kind of renaissance vice squad.

However, the charges were dismissed in June, due to a lack of witnesses and evidence. It is probable that the Medici family brought had something to do with this outcome, as another of the defendants was Lionardo de Tornabuoni, and Lorenzo de Medici's mother had been a Tornabuoni.

More on Leonardo:
Little is known about his private life, except that he was devoted to an array of beautiful young men whom he made his assistants: Cesare de Sesto, Boltraffio, Andrea Salaino, and a young aristrocrat named Francesco Melzi, whom Leonardo adopted and made his heir




The last quote is from the Leonardo da Vinci essay in "The Gay 100: A Ranking of the most influential gay men and lesbians, past and present" by Paul Russell.

1 comment:

Ada [The Duchess] said...

I did not know any of this. This is incredibly insightful (coming from a heterosexual female). Thank you so much for this information. You can bet that many homophobics are those who rever in his work. Little do they know they are shooting the messenger.