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Carnation in the Louvre, has insisted on the Flemish character of the composition. I must, however, draw attention to the fact that, compared with the copy in the Louvre, which, though absolutely faithful, is without force or warmth, the Munich picture produces the effect of a diamond beside a piece of glass. More recently, Herr Rieffel too pronounced in favour of its northern origin; he is disposed to look for the author of the Virgin of the Carnation among the painters of the Low Countries or the Lower Rhine, who sought inspiration in Italy and from the Italian masters at the beginning of the fifteenth
century. Morelli, whose appreciations — frequently hyper-subtle — should be received with extreme caution, unhesitatingly attributed the Munich picture to a mediocre Flemish painter, working from some drawings of Verrocchio's. Finally, Herr W. Schmidt puts forward Lorenzo di Credi as its author.1 For my part, I will add that what seems to me the main argument against Leonardo's authorship is the type of
1 See the Bulletin de la Socicte nationale des Anliquaires de France, 1890.—Repertorium jiir Kunstwissenschajt, 1891, p. 217—220.—Morelli, Die Galerien zu Miinchen und Dresden, pp. 349—356.—Zeitschrift fiir bild. Kunst., 1893, p. 139—141.
The Virgin with the Carnation has been connected with a drawing in the Dresden Gallery attributed to Leonardo and containing a study for a Virgin, a half-length figure. But it is by no means clear that this drawing is by the hand of Leonardo. Morelli claims it for Verrocchio, and the head has certainly something very poor about it, notably in the modelling of the nose. It offers as many points of divergence as of contact with the Munich picture, and therefore proves nothing either for or against the authenticity of the latter.
Critics have even gone so far as to attribute to Leonardo the miserable little picture, in the same Gallery, of the Virgin seated and holding out a blackberry to the Child, lying nude upon her knees, while the infant S. John the Baptist adores him with uplifted hands (No. 13). This picture appears to me hardly worthy of Lorenzo di Credi, to whom Herr Woermann ascribes it (/Catalog der K. Gemiildegalerie zu Dresden, 1887). According to Morelli, its author was a Flemish imitator of Lorenzo di Credi.
the Virgin, which is one never met with in his pictures; and also the absence of that contrast between the lights and shadows, so striking in the Adoration of the Magi, the Virgin of the Rocks, the S. Jerome, and the Mona Lisa.
A picture—very much damaged—in the Berlin Museum, the Resurrection of Christ between S. Leonard and S. Lucy,1 is also an early work by Leonardo, according to Dr. Bode.2 Dr. Bode notes, as particularly characteristic of Leonardo's manner, the contrast of the warm golden and red-brown tones with the cool blue-green tints, the chiaroscuro, the "pastoso" of the oil-colours, and the fine net-work which covers the carnations. There are several drawings of absolute authenticity, Dr. Bode adds, which served as preparatory studies for this picture. These are, first, the portrait of a woman at Windsor; the model here is represented with downcast eyes; a large drawing in silver point, a study for the robe of Christ (Malcolm Collection in the British Museum) ; lastly, a pen-and-ink drawing, a sketch, with the head of Saint Leonard, in the Uffizi (p. 48). That the Resurrection of the Berlin Museum had its origin in Leonardo's studio, that its author laid certain studies of the master under contribution for it, no one can doubt; but to accept it as a picture painted by his own hand is to maintain a conclusion against which the great majority of connoisseurs from one end of Europe to the other have protested.
1 The choice of these two saints has been regarded as an allusion to the Christian name of the painter, and that of his father's mother, the aged Lucia.
2 Jahrbuch der Kg. Preuss. Kunstsammlungen, 1884—Gazette des Beaux-Arts, 1889, vol. i. p. 501 — 505.
This first series of pictures should be completed, according to some German critics, by the engaging portrait of a woman in the Liechtenstein Gallery in Vienna, formerly attributed to Boltraffio.1 The widely opened eyes, the slender nose, the rather prim mouth, the short chin and flattened jaw certainly recall the type of the Virgin in the Annunciation in the Uffizi. But this is important only if the Annunciation really is by the hand of the master—" quod est demonstrandum."
If the authenticity of the pictures we have just passed in review arouses many a doubt, "a fortiori" it would be impossible to fix their chronology. Any attempt in that direction would be premature and hazardous.
But though we may seek in vain for guiding data in Leonardo's youthful pictures, we are on firmer ground if we turn our attention to his drawings.
As basis of our operations we should take, as I have already pointed out, the Landscape dated 1473; the three Dancing Girls of the Accademia in Venice, which were most certainly executed in the studio of Verrocchio, and perhaps the study for the head of a youth in the Weimar Gallery, a study in which I am inclined to see the portrait of the model who sat to Verrocchio for his David (p. 33).
To judge by a certain heaviness in the manipulation of the pen, we may add to these first efforts a drawing in the Windsor Library, essentially rough in execution. It contains several combinations for a Saint George striking at the dragon either with a lance or with a club: also sketches of horses turning or lying upon the ground with exaggerated flexibility, as if they had no backbone (the horse in the left-hand corner suggests the horse of the Colleone statue). There is a curious shapelessness in the hoofs of these animals, a strange stiffness in their clumsy necks.
The pendant to this drawing contains a series of studies for cats and leopards; a cat watching a mouse, a cat putting up its back, a sleeping cat, a cat washing itself, a leopard crouching before
1 This opinion was brought forward for the first time by Dr. Bode: Italienische Bildhauer, p. 156.—According to Muller-Walde (Leonardo da Vinci, p. 66) the Vienna portrait dates from about 1472.
it springs. Among these studies from nature, in which the cat shows its affinity to the tiger, there is a fantastic dragon, such as the imaginative artists of the Middle Ages carved on the gargoyles of cathedrals.1
To the years 1472-1473 a biographer assigns a series of drawings —studies of heads in the Borghese Gallery at Rome, the Uffizi Gallery, and the collection at Christ Church, Oxford,—which exhibit a type already very marked, very personal, midway between those of Ghirlandajo and Botticelli, by which I mean that it has all the firmness of the former combined with the distinction of the latter.2 Though making my own reservations as to the dates assigned to these drawings, I note, more especially in the two first, scarcely perceptible traces of archaism: for instance, the rather low square chin. The artist has not yet mastered the gamut of expression; the note of sentiment is as yet unfamiliar to him.
It is well known that Leonardo took great pleasure in designing fantastic helmets; we may note especially that in the superb drawing of the Warrior in the Malcolm collection. Her Mtiller-Walde, one of the latest of the master's biographers, has, however, been surely somewhat hasty in connecting these sketches with the order for the helmet of honour presented to the Duke of Urbino by the Florentine Republic after the taking of Volterra (1472)! Now, Herr MiillerWalde knows as well as I do that this helmet was made by Antonio del Pollajuolo ; consequently, my honourable opponent has been forced to fall back upon the hypothesis of a competition in which Leonardo is supposed to have taken part. Here again, I can only say, that this is an ingenious conjecture without any solid foundation. Indeed, everything justifies the belief that this broad, ample drawing (p. 57), dates from a much later period in the artist's life.
At this time too, according to Herr Miiller-Walde, Leonardo had begun to work for the Medici. Certain studies of costume in the Royal Library at Windsor 3 are supposed by him to be connected with
1 A draped figure, standing, seen from behind (Windsor Library; Richter, vol. i. pi. xxviii, no. 7, p. 391), recalls the traditions of the Quattrocento, the types of Perugino and Pinturicchio. It has none of the freedom and ease proper to Leonardo.
2 Miiller-Walde, Leonardo da Vina, fig. 7.
3 Leonardo da Vinci, fig. 36, 37, 38. Cf. p. 74.
the tournament of 1475, °f which Giuliano de' Medici was the hero. The youthful female figure in a cuirass is, he says, no other than La bella Simonetta, as is proved by her perfect resemblance (!) to Botticelli's Simonetta in the Berlin Museum. But I must confess that I have not been able to find the most distant analogy between the features of these personages and those in Leonardo's sketch, which, from their technique, I should judge to be of much later date.
On the other hand, a sketch in the Windsor Library of a young man in profile, wearing a sort of cap, the upper part of which falls over the back of his neck,1 is not unlike the bust of Lorenzo the Magnificent, formerly in Florence, and now in the Berlin Museum.
Finally, the young woman with the outstretched left hand of one of the Windsor drawings is, according to Herr Miiller-Walde,2 no other than Dante's Beatrice, and of the same period as Botticelli's compositions. The hypothesis has, in itself, nothing very improbable about it, but, if I am not mistaken, this again is a much later work.
Concurrently with painting, if we may believe Vasari, our sole guide for this period of the master's life, Leonardo worked at sculpture. At the same time he was studying architecture, sketching out plans of buildings, more picturesque than practical, and lastly, applying himself with ardour to the problem for which he had a passion all his life, the movement of water. It was at this time that he drew up a project for the canalisation of the Arno between Florence and Pisa.
In his first efforts as a sculptor, the biographer tells us, Leonardo executed busts of smiling women and children, worthy of a finished artist. A bust dating from this period, a Christ, was later in the possession of the Milanese painter-author, Lomazzo, who describes it as marked by a child-like simplicity and candour, combined with an expression of wisdom, intelligence, and majesty truly divine. No trace of these early efforts has come down to us.
But at least we know the models which inspired the young da Vinci; these were, after the productions of Verrocchio, the polychrome terracottas of the della Robbia. In the Trattato della Pittura (chap, xxxvii) he makes special mention of them—he who so seldom mentions 1 Muller-Walde, Leonardo da Vinci, fig. 13. - Ibid. p. 75.