網頁圖片
PDF

10

Head of an Old Man.

(british Mi'sei/m.)

[graphic]

drawing was to him merely a form of writing, a means of rendering his thought more clearly. These rough sketches of his show the most admirable penetration and precision; they evoke the very essence of beings and of things. The most complex mechanisms become intelligible under Leonardo's pen or pencil.

Setting aside the innumerable sketches that illustrate the manuscripts, we have two distinct categories of drawings to consider: drawings made in preparation for pictures, and studies of heads.1

The first, I am bound to admit, betray a certain vacillation. The conception is too often confused, the handling hasty, and occasionally incorrect. Leonardo here obeys the precept in the Trattato della Pittura (cap. 64): "When sketching out a composition, work rapidly, and do not elaborate the drawing of the limbs. It will be enough to indicate their position; and you can finish them afterwards at your leisure."

The studies of heads, on the other hand, are marked by an extraordinary sincerity and assurance. Taken as a whole, these types make up a rich human iconography, ranging from the dreamy adolescent to the vigorous old man, robust as the Farnese Hercules. Note the marvellous variety even in such a detail as the arrangement of the hair. Here we have a luxuriant mane, encircling the face like an aureole; there, woolly, curly, waving or braided tresses.

The drawings for the Battle of Anghiari, especially those in the Turin Library, have a fire and vigour which are wanting in the drawings of the Florentine period, and betray an intention on the part of the master to measure himself with Michelangelo.

The so-called Caricatures serve as pendants to these types of ideal beauty, making up a gallery of idiots and cretins, goitred, toothless,

1 In the master's manuscripts we find the embryoes of a series of figures which he afterwards developed and completed in finished drawings. Thus, certain birds in the manuscripts of the Institut de France (E. fol. 42 v") were the forerunners of the standing eagle with outspread wings in the enigmatic drawing at Windsor (Grosvenor Gallery Series, no. 38). Thus, too, the interlaced ornaments of the engraving inscribed "Academia Leonardi Vinci" were preceded by a considerable number of analogous motives, such as the sketch in MS. E. (fol. 41 v"), in the Institut. The same process may be traced in the work of Raphael He, too, loved to ruminate. Some of his figures that seem to us the inspiration of a moment, were carefully elaborated. A boyish sketch in the Accademia at Venice became a figure of radiant beauty and astonishing firmness after a period of fifteen years.

U

[graphic]

A MUSE C.). FROM AN ENGRAYING ASCR1UED TO LEONARDO.

(British Museum.)

hare - lipped abortions, with noses and chins atrophied or developed to exaggeration. The artist who created the most perfect types of humanity also applied himself, long before Grandville and Callot, to the reproduction of the most monstrous deformities, caricatures which show the intermediate degree between the man and the beast, or, rather, man degraded below the level of the beast, by a hideous hybridism. In some examples, the nose is flattened, while the upper lip protrudes like those of the felidae: in others, the nose is hooked and prominent as a parrot's beak.1

1 A thoughtful enquirer, himself an authority on the art of caricature, has left us a definition of what he calls the anatomy of ugliness that . I may offer to the attention of my reader. Leonardo, said Champfleury, " was of the race of those who have sought to demonstrate the gradual transitions which lead from the Apollo to the frog. He concerned himself both with the traits that divide man from brute, and those which connect them. Occupied with such a train of thought, Leonardo must often have pondered the order of primal organisms. He inclined perhaps to the ideas of the

[graphic]

STUDY OF AN OLD MAN.

(Trivulzi Library.)

« 上一頁繼續 »