ePub 版

(Vasari says his uncle) who afterwards presented it to Ottavio de' Medici.

No other member of the da Vinci family made his mark in history, with the exception of a nephew of Leonardo, Pierino, an able sculptor, who died in Pisa towards the middle of the sixteenth century at the early age of thirty-three. The sole trait which the Vinci seem to have inherited from their common ancestor is a rare vitality. Ser Piero's stock has survived even to our own times. In 1869 Signor Uzielli, a most lucky investigator, discovered a peasant named Tommaso Vinci, near Montespertoli, at a place called Bottinaccio. After due verification, this peasant who had the family papers in his possession 1 and who, like his ancestor, Ser Piero, was blessed with a numerous progeny, was found to be a descendant of Domenico, one of Leonardo's brothers. A pathetic touch in a family so cruelly fallen from its high estate is the fact that Tommaso da Vinci gave his eldest son the glorious name of Leonardo. On page 15 we give the genealogy of the family of da Vinci as drawn up by Signor Uzielli,

Nothing can equal the vital force of Italian families. That of Michelangelo still exists, like that of Leonardo. But how sadly fallen! When, on the occasion of the centenary festivals in 1875, any possibly remaining members of the Buonarroti family were searched for, it came to light that the head of the family, Count Buonarroti, had been condemned to the galleys for forgery; another Buonarroti was a cabdriver in Siena, and yet another a common soldier. Let us hope that in honour of his glorious ancestor he was advanced to the rank of general! If the latest scions of Leonardo's house do not occupy a brilliant position, at least there is no stain upon the honour of their name.

Having acquainted ourselves with the family of Leonardo da Vinci, it is time to analyse the qualities of this child of genius, this splendidly endowed nature, this accomplished cavalier, this Proteus, Hermes, Prometheus, appellations which recur every moment under the pens of his dazzled contemporaries. “We see how Providence,” exclaims one of these, “rains down the most precious gifts on certain men, often





i These papers now form part of the archives of the Accademia dei Lincei, Rome. ? Lomazzo, Trattato della Pittura.


with regularity, sometimes in profusion; we see it combine unstintingly in the same being beauty, grace, talent, bringing each of these qualities to such perfection that whichever way the privileged one turns, his every action is divine, and, excelling those of all other men, his qualities appear what, in reality, they are : accorded by God, and not acquired by human industry. Thus it was with Leonardo da Vinci, in whom were united physical beauty beyond all

[blocks in formation]



[ocr errors]












GENEALOGY OF THE DA VINCI FAMILY : Ser Michele da Vinci ....

..................Notary. Ser Guido

........... Notary (living in 1339). Ser PIERO

..... ..... Notary (living in 1381). ANTONIO.....

.................. ............ ............(born in 1372). Ser PIERO ........

. . . . . . . . . . . . ... Notary (1427-1504).

WIVES OF SER PIERO: 1. Albiera di Giovanni Amadori, 3. MARGHERITA di Francesco di Jacopo married 1452.

di Guglielmo, married before 2. FRANCESCA di ser Giuliano Lan

fredini, married 1465.

1 4. LUCREZIA di Guglielmo Cortigiani.

.............. Illegitimate.
Children of the Third Marriage : 1 Children of the Fourth Marriage :
Antonio ........................born 1476. Margherita ..................... born 1491.
Ser Giuliano ...................born 1479. Benedetto ...................... born 1492.
Lorenzo ........................born 1484. Pandolfo ......... .............born 1494.
Violante ........................born 1485. Guglielmo ..........................born 1496.
Domenico, born 1486. Descendants Bartolommeo, born 1497, ancestor of
living at the present day.

Pierino da Vinci.

praise, and infinite grace in all his actions ; as for his talent, it was such that, no matter what difficulty presented itself, he solved it without effort. In him dexterity was allied to exceeding great strength ; his spirit and his courage showed something kingly and magnanimous. Finally, his reputation assumed such dimensions that, wide-spread as it was during his life-time, it extended still further after his death.” Vasari, to whom we owe this eloquent appreciation, concludes with a phrase, untranslatable in its power of rendering the majesty of the person described : “Lo splendor dell'aria sua, che bellissimo era,

rissereneva ogni animo mesto.” (“ The splendour of his aspect, which was beautiful beyond measure, rejoiced the most sorrowful souls.").

Leonardo was gifted by nature with most unusual

muscular strength : he could twist the clapper of a bell or a horse shoe as if it were of lead. A species of infirmity, however, was mingled with this extra

ordinary aptitude : the artist was lefthanded—his biographers assert this formally 1

-and in his old age, paralysis finally deprived him of the use of his right hand.

The Renaissance had already produced one of these exceptional organisations, combining the rarest intellectual aptitudes with every physical perfection, beauty, dexterity, strength. At once mathematician, poet, musician, philoso

pher, architect, sculptor, an ardent disciple of STUDY OF YOUTH (POR The adoration the ancients, and a daring innovator, Leone

Battista Alberti, the great Florentine thinker

and artist, excelled in all physical exercises. The most fiery horses trembled before him ; he could leap over the shoulders of a grown man with his feet touching each other ; in the cathedral at Florence he would throw a coin into the air with such force that it was heard to ring against the vaulted roof of the gigantic edifice. The temple of S. Francis at Rimini, the Rucellai palace in Florence, the invention of the camera lucida, the earliest use of free verse in the Italian language, the reorganisation of the Italian



(Collection P. Valton.)


(Windsor Library.)


1 “Quella ineffabile senistra mano a tutte discipline matematiche accomodatissima ”— “Scrivesi ancora allo rovescia e mancina che non si posson leggere se non con lo specchio, ovvero guardando la carta del suo rovescio contro alla luce, como so m’intendi senz'altro dica, e come fa il nostro Leonardo da Vinci, lume ... della pittura, quale mancino, come più volte è detto." (Pacioli, De Divina Proportione.)

[merged small][ocr errors]
« 上一頁繼續 »