網頁圖片
PDF

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.

[graphic]

A MUSE (?). FROM AN ENGRAVING ASCRIBED 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 ot 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]
[ocr errors]

STUDY OF AN OLD MAN.

(Trivulzi Library.)

But here again we may ask, was Leonardo a realist, or did he distort nature by dwelling exclusively on exceptions? Realism, as we understand it in our own times, is either platitude or an exclusive preoccupation with what is ugly. From this grovelling point of view, proud, free spirits such as Leonardo can never be realists. Has not the master shown us by his example that art must be either subjective or non-existent? Take any one of his heads of old men: even when he seems to be giving himself up to the work of mechanical reproduction, he eliminates, perhaps unconsciously, everything opposed to the type that rises before his imagination, interposing between his eyes and the model. He ends by giving us, not a photographically faithful image of some individual, but an ideal of his own, which has incorporated itself in some face, seen, perhaps, by chance. Under his pencil this face is unwittingly transformed, and in a moment its personality is exchanged for one the artist has evolved from dreams.

Darwins of his day. Yet Leonardo seems to have studied only the exterior physiognomy of beings; his pencil does not penetrate beyond this. But he wished to create, and even to overstep Nature; in all branches of knowledge, his love of research was very strongly developed, and he inquired into the greater in order to obtain the less. His sheets of sketches must be looked upon as jottings purposely exaggerated, a teratological system carried to an extreme, a jeu d'esprit akin to those of Bacon, when he amused himself by turning rhetorician, and arguing the pros and cons of a question." {Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1879, vol. i., p. 201.)

F F

[graphic]
[table]

HEAD OP A WOMAN. FROM AN ENGRAVING ASCRIBED TO LEONARDO.

(British Museum.)

These grotesque drawings, which were a mere accident in Leonardo's art, an accident I do not hesitate to call regrettable, became the favourite food of vulgar taste among a certain class of amateurs. They were eagerly sought after by collectors, and, what was worse, were laboriously copied and imitated by many artists. Hence the frequency with which they occur in various European collections.

By this creation of the aesthetics of ugliness side by side with a sublime formula of beauty, Leonardo showed the way on a path of extreme danger.

Towards the close of his sojourn in Milan, the master drew up a list of his drawings on one of the sheets of that Codex Atlanticus which is, so to speak, the Palladium of the Ambrosiana Library. I will transcribe this document, for in spite of its curiously laconic nature, it gives evidence of the singular catholicity of Leonardo's studies, and at the same time, it allows us to plunge into some of the mysterious recesses of his mind: "A head full face, of a young man, with fine flowing hair. Many flowers drawn from nature. A head, full face, with curly hair. Certain figures of S. Jerome. The measurements of a figure. Drawings of furnaces. A head of the Duke. Many designs for knots. Four studies for the panel of S. Angelo. A small composition of Girolamo da Fegline. A head of Christ done with the pen. Eight S. Sebastians. Several compositions of angels. A chalcedony [probably an antique cameo]. A head in profile with fine hair. Some pitchers seen in *(?) perspective. Some machines for ships. Some machines for water-works. A head of Atalante [Atalante da Migliorotti ?], looking up. The head of Girolamo da Fegline. The head of Gian Francisco Borso. Several throats of old women. Several heads of old men. Several nude figures, complete. Several arms, eyes, feet, and positions. A Madonna, finished. Another, nearly in profile. Head of Our Lady ascending into Heaven. A head of an old man with a long chin. A head of a gipsy girl. A head with a hat on. A representation of the Passion, a cast. A head of a girl with her hair gathered in a knot. A head with the brown hair dressed." 1

Did Leonardo make any essays in engraving? We may affirm at 1 Richter, vol. i., pp. 355-356.

least that, like Diirer, Holbein, Jean Cousin, and other masters, he never himself engraved on wood. This fact has been definitely established by the Marchese d'Adda.1 In the dedication of the Trattato dclla Divina Proportione, Leonardo's friend Pacioli certainly declares that he asked the latter to engrave the "schemata" for the treatise. "Schemata .... Vincii nostri Leonardo manibus scalpta." But a little farther on he adds, in referring to the base of a column (ch. vi. fol. 28 v°): ". . . . As you may see in the disposition of the regular bodies and others which you will find further on, done by Leonardo da Vinci, the excellent painter, architect, and musician, a man gifted with all the virtues, at the time when we were in the town of Milan, in the service of the very excellent Duke Lodovico Sforza Anglo, between the years 1496 and 1499. At this period we left the city together, in consequence of events, and went to settle in

Florence At Milan, I had with my own hands illuminated

and ornamented these drawings, to the number of sixty, to insert them in the copy destined for the Duke2 and also in two others, one for Galeazzo San Severino of Milan; the other, for the most excellent Piero Soderini, Gonfaloniere of Florence, in whose palace he is at present, etc. ..." It is evident, says the Marchese d'Adda, that Pacioli refers to Leonardo's share in the preparation of the manuscript, and that he had never heard of the woodcuts for the volume, which was not printed at Venice till 1509, long after the two friends had quitted Milan.

Gilberto Govi goes even further. He affirms that Pacioli kept Leonardo's original drawings for himself, and made tracings from them for the three manuscript copies. It is certain, at any rate, that the Codex Atlanticus contains sketches of many geometrical figures for Pacioli's work.3

1 Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1868, vol. ii., p. 130, et sea.

2 This copy is in the Geneva Library. Although much injured by damp, it bears the true Leonardesque impress, says the Marchese d'Adda. In it, adds the learned Milanese iconophile, I saw the most unmistakable evidences of the master's influence, both in the geometrical figures and in the splendid miniature in which the author is represented offering his manuscript to Lodovico il Moro. The latter is evidently by the hand of Fra Antonio da Monza. (Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1868, vol. ii., p. 133.)

3 Saggio, p. 13.—Referring to the Leonardesque character certain critics have discovered in the two profile heads in Pacioli's work (fol. 25 of the first Treatise, and fol. 28

« 上一頁繼續 »