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now enigmatic, now proud, now tender, their eyes misty with languors, or brilliant with indefinable smiles. And yet, like Donatello, he was one of those exceptionally great artists in whose life the love of woman seems to have played no part. While Eros showered his arrows all around the master, in the epicurean world of the Renaissance; while Giorgione and Raphael died, the victims of passions too fervently reciprocated; while Andrea del Sarto sacrificed his honour to his love for his capricious wife, Lucrezia Fedi; while Michelangelo himself, the sombre misanthrope, cherished an affection no less ardent than respectful for Vittoria Colonna, Leonardo, consecrating himself without reserve to art and science, soared above all human weaknesses; the delights of the mind sufficed him. He himself proclaimed it in plain terms: "Fair humanity passes, but art endures. (Cosa bella mortal passa e non arte.)"
No artist was ever so absorbed as he, on the one hand by the search after truth, on the other, by the pursuit of an ideal which should satisfy the exquisite delicacy of his taste. No one ever made fewer sacrifices to perishable emotions. In the five thousand sheets of manuscript he left us, never once does he mention a woman's name, except to note, with the dryness of a professed naturalist, some trait that has struck him in her person: "Giovannina has a fantastic face; she is in the hospital, at Santa Catarina." This is typical of his tantalising brevity.
From the very first, we are struck by the care with which Leonardo chose his models. He was no advocate for the frank acceptance of nature as such, beautiful or ugly, interesting or insignificant. For months together he applied himself to the discovery of some remarkable specimen of humanity. When once he had laid hands on this Phoenix, we know from the portrait of the Gioconda with what tenacity he set to work to reproduce it. It is regrettable that he should not have shown the same ardour in the pursuit of feminine types, 'really beautiful and sympathetic, seductive or radiant, that he showed irftjhat of types of youths and old men, or of types verging on caricature. It would have been so interesting to have had, even in a series of sketches, a whole iconography by his hand, in addition to the three or four masterpieces on which he concentrated his powers; the unknown Princess of the Ambrosiana, Isabella a"Este, the Belle Ferroniere, and the Gioconda. How was it that all the great ladies of the Italian Renaissance did not aspire to be immortalised by that magic brush? Leonardo's subtlety and penetration marked him out as the interpreter par excellence of woman; no other could have fixed her features and analysed her character with a like commingling of delicacy and distinction.
And yet, strange to say, by some curious and violent revulsion, the artist who had celebrated woman in such exquisite transcriptions, took pleasure in noting the extremes of deformity in the sex whose most precious apanage is beauty. In a word, the man of science came into conflict with the artist; to types delicious in their youthful freshness, he opposes the heads of shrews and imbeciles, every variety of repulsive distortion. It would almost seem —to borrow an idea from Champfleury — as if he sought to indemnify himself for having idealised so much in his pictures "The Italian master," adds Champfleury, "has treated womankind more harshly than the professed caricaturists, for most of these, while pursuing man with their sarcasms, seem to protest their love for the beautiful by respecting woman."
As a sculptor, Leonardo distinguished himself by the revival and