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On the other hand, there are several engravings Irom copperplates which pass for the works of Leonardo da Vinci.1
In the British Museum, to begin with, there is a Young Woman in Profile, turning to the left. Rich tresses hang about her neck, and fall on her shoulders; a curl strays across her cheek. She wears a slashed bodice. An attempt has been made to connect this head with that of the Mona Lisa. But it is entirely wanting in the flexibility
so characteristic of La Gioconda, and the features have a curiously bewildered expression.
A second example is also in the British Museum, a Young Woman in Profile turned to the right, crowned with ivy, with the inscription AGHA LE. VI. The type here has more distinction, and the handling more flexibility.
A third, the only known example of
STUDY OF A HEAD. FACSIMILE OF AN ENGRAVING AFTER LEONARDO. which bdOngS tO tllC
same collection, The Four Horsemen, is certainly from a drawing by Leonardo, though it is impossible to say whether the plate was actually engraved by him.2
of the second), the Marchese d'Adda points out that these were borrowed from a work by Piero della Francesca, Pacioli's master and fellow citizen.
1 D'Adda, Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1868, vol. ii., p. 139 et sea.—Passavant, Le PeintreGraveur, vol. v., p. i8r.—Delaborde, La Gravure en Italie avant Marc Antonie, p. 183. —A drawing in the Vallardi Collection (no. 1), a woman in profile to the right, has much in common with the two engravings. There is the same high chin, the same continuity of line in the forehead and nose, the same straight nose, the same astonished gaze.
2 Richter, pi. lxv.—Other engravings ascribed to Leonardo are either spurious or doubtful. Passavant, Le Peintre-Graveur, vol. v., p. 180.
Six engravings are connected with the so-called "Academy of Leonardo." They bear the inscription Academia Leonardi Vinci in the midst of interlaced ornaments, cunningly composed, and forming a sort of labyrinth.1
Several heads of old men, long attributed to Mantegna, seem also to have been executed in the studio of the great head of the Milanese school. 1
The equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza, and the Last Supper represent but a small proportion of Leonardo's almost miraculous activity during sixteen or seventeen years of extraordinary fecundity and strenuous toil. We have still to consider his work as an architect, an engineer, a mechanician, a naturalist, a philosopher, and
finally, his labours as a teacher in the Academy to which he gave his name.
The Sforza monument, unfinished though it was, had immediately given Leonardo a place in the front rank of sculptors, just as the Last Supper had raised him to the highest place among painters. Taking into account the scope and variety of his knowledge in the exact sciences, it was natural that the artist should have burned to try his hand at
1 See M. G. Duplessis' article in the Revue Universelle des Arts, 1862, vol. xv., pp. 157-158.
architecture. And, as a fact, problems of construction occupied him as much as problems of aesthetics; hence we find him searching into the causes that produce fissures in walls and niches, inquiring into the nature of arches, &c. The acoustics of church buildings also occupied him a good deal; he tried to discover an architectural combination which would enable the preacher's voice to reach the most distant corner of the building, and he invented the "teatro da predicare "—a lecture hall in the form of an amphitheatre. Among his designs there is also the plan of a town with a system of streets on two different levels for distinct services (Richter, pi. Ixxvii., Ixxviii).
An opportunity of coming to the front in this new domain soon presented itself. For years, the completion of Milan Cathedral had occupied the attention of all who were interested in Gothic architecture. The master-builders of Strasburg, as also Bramante, Francesco di Giorgio Martini, and many others, had given advice, and worked out plans. In 1487 1 Leonardo, too, entered the lists in this great competition, which stirred the enthusiasm of the last champions of the Middle Ages ; he turned his attention to the cupola which was to crown the transept, the " tiburium." But everything tends to prove that his design in the Gothic manner was rejected,2 and henceforth the master's researches were purely platonic.
Leonardo eagerly accepted other works, apparently still more humble. On February 2, 1494, when at the Sforzesca, he made a design for a staircase of twenty-five steps, each two-thirds of a "braccia" high and eight "braccia" wide. On March 20 following, he went to Vigevano to examine the vines. It was perhaps on this occasion that he made a study of the staircase of a hundred and thirty steps in the mansion.
Although we cannot positively attribute any existing building to Leonardo, it is easy to divine from his sketches what his designs may or would have been in stone. They would first of all have revealed the sense of harmony that characterised this purist "par excellence," by the
1 1487. "Addi 8 agosto Magistro Leonardo Florentino, qui habet onus faciendi modellum unum tuboril ecclesiae majoris, juxta ordinationem factam in Consilio fabricae, super ratione faciendi dictum modellum." L. 56 (Annali della Fabbrica del Duomo di Milano, vol. Hi., p. 38. Cf. Boito, // Duomo di Milano, pp. 227-228.)
2 Richter, vol. ii., pi. C.—Trivulzi MS., pi. xxxvii.
perfect equilibrium of the different parts of the edifice, attached to the central body by an absolutely organic and vital bond. Churches on a concentric plan, that is to say, with the lower aisles and chapels grouped as closely as possible round a central cupola which dominates the whole structure, on the system dear to the Byzantines, seem to have been preferred by the master. He sketched a great number in the sheets published by M. de Geymiiller, grouping four, six, and even eight cupolas round the central dome. The pavilion he designed for the Duchess Beatrice d'Este's garden had also a domed vault. His masterpiece in the domain of circular architecture is a design, no less majestic than simple in conception, for a mausoleum (inspired, perhaps, by that at Halicarnassus, which still existed in part at the beginning of the fifteenth century). According to M. de Geymiiller, this one design would have sufficed to rank Leonardo among the greatest architects of all time.1
As an architect, says the same authority, Leonardo was the direct descendant of Brunellesco. He recognised this himself by drawing the plan of San Spirito at Florence, sketching a lateral view of the church of San Lorenzo in the same city, and composing a plan almost identical with that of the famous Chapel of the Angels, three of Brunellesco's masterpieces. In his plans of churches he was clearly inspired by the dome and lantern of Santa Maria dei Fiori; and finally, it was from Brunellesco he borrowed the principle of double entablatures. 2 It is possible that the influence of another of his Florentine compatriots, the great Leone Battista Alberti, had little effect upon him till after his arrival in Milan, and that it worked upon him through the intermediary of Bramante, who proved himself in so many respects the successor and exponent of Alberti. But above all others, Bramante, in his classic rather than in his Lombard vein, made a deep impression on the master. Leonardo the architect, like Leonardo the sculptor, had dreams of colossal, almost chimeric works. The royal necropolis he planned (Richter, pi. xcviii) was to consist, according to M. de Geymliller's calculations, of an artificial mountain, 600 metres in diameter at the base, and of a circular temple, the pavement of which was
1 M. de Geymiiller's study is incorporated in Dr. Richter's work.
2 Ch. Ravaisson-Mollien, vol. ii., fol. 67 v".
to be on a level with the spires of Cologne Cathedral, while the interior
was to be of the same width as the nave of S. Peter's at Rome. 1
On another occasion, fired by the example of Aristotele di Fiora
vante, the famous Bolognese engineer, who had removed a tower from
one place to another without demolishing it, he proposed to the
Florentine government to raise the Baptistery by means of machinery,
and replace it on a base of steps. Needless to say, the project was not
favourably received. Here again the great artist and scholar showed
himself a visionary.
1 According to Signor Uzielli, it was in 1499 that Leonardo made a report on the causes that threatened the destruction of the church of San Salvatore al Monte. (Riarchc, 1st ed. vol. ii, p. 215-216.) G. Milanesi, however, gives 1506 as the date of this consultation. (Vasari, vol. iv.)