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In one of his notes the master lets us know that he left Milan for Rome on the 24th of September, 1513, accompanied by Giovanni, Francesco Melzi, Salai, Lorenzo, and Fanfoja. 2
On the 27th of September, the procession halted at Sant' Angelo, on the Po.3
At Florence—if I do not misunderstand a passage in VasariLeonardo attached himself and his following to Giuliano de' Medici, who was about to leave for Rome, to join his brother, the Pope. It is not impossible that Giuliano, who, if we may believe Vasari, busied himself a good deal with philosophy, and especially with alchemy, was attracted by the air of mystery by which the painter was surrounded. However this may have been, he hastened to attach Leonardo to his own person, assigning him a monthly sum of thirty-three gold ducats (about £66), a magnificent salary when compared with the usual amounts then paid to artists. He assigned, moreover, seven gold ducats a month to Giorgio Tedesco (George the German), Leonardo's pupil. These relations between artist and patron continued until 1515.4
During the journey Leonardo amused himself by bewildering his companions with tricks which had more to do with conjuring than with science. He fashioned animals out of light sheets of wax, which floated for a time when inflated with air, etc. (See above, p. 66.)
This, no doubt, was not Leonardo's first visit to Rome. The close relations between Florence and Rome and the ease with which the journey could be accomplished, make it pretty certain that he had travelled between the two cities more than once. A document published by Gaye 5 tends to prove that he made an excursion to Rome about 1505. We there learn that the Florentine government paid eighteen lire, nine soldi, and eight decimi to the Customs as duty upon a “fardello di sue veste fatto venire da Roma.”
* This Lorenzo is referred to in a letter from Leonardo to Giuliano de' Medici (Richter, vol. ii., p. 407-409).
2 The Marchese d'Adda proposes to read Zamboja (Bambaja, the famous sculptor) for Fanfoja in the passage which enumerates the pupils who accompanied da Vinci to Rome (Gazette des Beaux Arts, 1876, vol. ii., p. 488).
3 Richter, vol. ii., p. 441.
When we remember his age and the tendencies to which he had remained faithful for the whole of his life, in spite of the instability of his temper, we may fairly assert that Leonardo saw the wonders of the great pagan and Christian capital with indifference, or at least without enthusiasm. Works of art moved him less than those of nature. So far as the classic master-pieces were concerned, he rather loved them instinctively than studied them with any sort of method.
He found, of course, a certain number of friends and acquaintances on the banks of the Tiber. In the first place there was Atalante del Migliarotti, who had studied with him in the studio of Verrocchio, who had accompanied him to Milan, and who now, fallen somewhat in the world, filled the comparatively humble office of pontifical clerk of the works. Another Florentine, now settled in Rome, was Giuliano da San Gallo, the famous architect. He had lived for a time in Milan, and there, doubtless, had become acquainted with Leonardo. The splendours of Lodovico's court were also, no doubt, recalled to his mind by the presence of Bramante, the great architect, and Caradosso, the medallist, both of whom had earned, by dint of genius and papal favour, the standing of Roman citizens. It also seems to me certain that Leonardo made the acquaintance of Giovannantonio Bazzi, called Il Sodoma, who, without being his pupil, adopted his principles and had an enthusiastic admiration for his work. This Lombardo-Sienese had been attracted to Rome, like so many others, by the election of a Medici to the papal throne. I shall hazard the same conjecture with regard to Raphael. The two princes of painting must have known each other in Florence; and working daily in the Vatican, they must there have resumed their friendship. Unhappily, no allusion to any connection between them is to be found in the letters or sketches of either. The presence in Rome of Michelangelo, Leonardo's ancient enemy, may have struck a discordant note in the general harmony, but he could not hurt da Vinci's interests, for his own star was for the moment in eclipse.
The Ambrosiana at Milan, so rich in false Leonardo drawings, possesses on the other hand an old man's portrait in red chalk, with energetic features and an expression at once sarcastic and morose. This drawing I ascribe with some confidence to Leonardo, in spite of an ear with which the critic might reasonably find fault. The thing I wish to point out about it is not so much the subtle vigour of the execution, as a certain family likeness, as it were, to a figure in one of the frescoes in the Hall of Constantine, in the Vatican. Long ago, when studying the fresco which represents Leo X. approving the plans of the new S. Peter's, I was struck with the presence of a bald and bearded individual in the middle of the composition, standing, and unrolling, with an air of remarkable assurance, Bramante's plans for the great undertaking. The fresco, no doubt, has been more than half repainted, but an old engraving by Sante Bartoli is sufficient evidence that the heads have not been altered in their essential features.
In spite of his energetic features and air of authority, this old man would not have made any special impression upon me, but for the fact that he re-appears in the Dispute of the Sacrament. There he is, standing behind the group on the extreme left, and, significantly enough, again close to Bramante. It is clear that we have not here to do with some casual model, chosen by Raphael for his expressive features alone. The man who lays the plan of the basilica before Pope Leo X. is obviously one of the chief actors in that gigantic enterprise. He is not Bramante, whose features are well known. Why, then, should he not be the other chief pivot on whom the whole work turned, from the administrative standpoint ? Why should he not be Giuliano Leno, superintendent of the fabric of St. Peter's ? “ Bramante," Vasari tells us, “left behind him Giuliano Leno, who played a considerable rôle in the building works of his time. He was more skilful in superintending the execution of other people's plans than in making designs on his own account, although he possessed a sound judgment and a wide experience.” The Ferrarese ambassador tells us that Raphael felt the effects of a sort of melancholy when he took up architecture after Bramante's death; he disputes, he says, the practice of that art with Giuliano Leno.
This conjecture made—I dare not say this point established-1 return to Leonardo and the Ambrosiana drawing. The reproductions here given will enable the reader to appreciate the likeness between the individual portrayed by Raphael in the Disputa and by Giulio 1 See my Raphael, and ed., PP. 315, 585, 586, 638.
Romano or his assistants in the fresco of the Sala di Constantino on the one hand, and Leonardo's old man on the other. I am quite alive to the necessity for reserve, not to say scepticism, in matters iconographic. But I cannot help being impressed by all these points of contact !—the large aquiline nose, the contracted eyebrows, betraying an obstinate will, the brilliant eyes and sarcastic mouth, the bald
cranium and thick short beard, the prominent
But you may ask, when and where did Leonardo see Giuliano Leno? The answer is easy. At Rome, in 1513. I have published, in Historiens et Critiques de Raphael (p. 133), a document in which, among the “lavori fatti fare da M. Giuliano Leno,” the repair of the “ stanze tiene a Belvedere Leonardo da Vinci” is expressly mentioned. Here
we have relations well and duly proved, between the Florentine painter, living for the moment in Rome, and the superintendent of the fabric of St. Peter's.
If my researches have brought to light yet another individual who had to do with Bramante, Raphael, and Leonardo, I shall consider my unusual excursion into the realm of conjecture more than repaid.
Leo X. welcomed Leonardo with great cordiality, and gave him a lodging in the Belvedere itself. There we find him installed in the month of December, 1513.
The story goes that the Pope, having given him a commission for a picture, he began at once to distil herbs and oils in order to make the varnish ; whereupon Leo exclaimed, “Alas! this man will do