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informs us that he represented Leda nude, with the swan on her breast, her eyes modestly downcast The picture, he adds, was at Fontainebleau, with the Mono, Lisa.1
In a recent article in the fahrbuch, Herr Miiller-Walde has pointed out, on a sheet of the Codex Atlanticus, which every student of Leonardo had handled and fingered without discovering anything at all, the painter's original sketch for the lost masterpiece. There can be no doubt about the matter. The sketch, though microscopic in dimensions, contains the germ of the whole idea of the Leda. She stands erect, holding in her left arm (the side of the heart) a confused mass which is easily recognisable as Jupiter under the form of a bird.
This subject was subsequently worked out by Leonardo in several drawings now in the Windsor Library, and more particularly in some studies of heads, in which the arrangement of the hair is of the most extraordinary character. I am aware that Signor Morelli claims these drawings as the work of Sodoma; but his theory will not bear investigation. Not only, indeed, is the treatment quite different from that of Sodoma, but the studies form part of a series which can only have been produced by Leonardo. And further, one of them bears an autograph note: '' Da levare e pore."
Herr Miiller-Walde, who is nothing if not prompt, has lost no time in marking out the various stages of the composition. A first version, according to him, was produced at Florence, between 1501 and 1506, and a second at Fontainebleau, between 1516 and 15IQ.2 I do not myself altogether trust these geometric solutions, and will leave Herr Miiller-Walde to sail alone on the wreck-strewn ocean of conjecture.
Signor Morelli, not content with robbing Leonardo to enrich Sodoma, has also, and for the same artist's benefit, filched an absolutely authentic drawing, at once na'ive and bold, from Raphael himself. This, too, is in the Windsor Collection, and was certainly influenced by Leonardo's cartoon. In it the artist has reproduced with evident enjoyment the twisted plaits of Leda's hair.
1 "Leonardo da Vinci I'osservo (l'atto della vergogna) facendo Leda tutta ignuda, co'l, cigno in grembo, che vergognosamente abbassa gl' occhi" (Trattato della Pittura, p. 164). "Come la Leda igunda ed il ritratto di Mona Lisa Napoletana che sono nella Fontana di Beleo in Francia" (Idea del Tempio della Pittura, ed. 1590, p. 6-7).
2 The first edition is said to be characterised by the complicated plaits of hair that form a kind of interlacing ornament on the temples and poll. In the second the hair floats loose. But may not this modification have been introduced by some copyist? These were accustomed, in the sixteenth century, to take liberties with their originals, and gave themselves out, indeed, as imitators, and not as servile reproducers.
This drawing, let me remark, proves that the cartoon of the Leda was at Florence, where Raphael must have copied it, and that it must have been there in 1505 or 1506, for this is the latest date which can be assigned to Raphael's copy.
Several other ancient copies confirm Raphael's testimony. In the first place, the Borghese Gallery boasts a picture which Signor Morelli at first proclaimed a masterpiece by Sadoma, but which, after due reflection, he described as a mere copy after the master, Herr Mtiller-Walde, on his part, pronounces it the work of Bacchiacca. (It is a far cry from Sodoma to Bacchiacca!)
The Municipal Museum at Milan has also acquired a very insipid study of a head, which seems to have been inspired by one of the Windsor drawings. This study, according to Signor Frizzoni, is an authentic work by Sodoma.1
Thirdly, we have a replica, exhibited in 187.3 at the Corps Legislatif, which has passed out of the collection of M. de la Roziere into that of the Baronne de Ruble.
Another copy, in Fratt Oppler's collection, at Hanover, was painted, according to Miiller-Walde, in France, during the last century, and is a reproduction of an older copy which has now disappeared.
The author of the catalogue of the Milanese Exhibition at the Burlington Fine Arts Club mentions several replicas of the Leda; one in the Grosvenor Club Gallery, one in the Doetsch collection, and one at Wilton.2
1 Archivio Storico delle Arte, 1892, p. 275.
z Cook, Burlington Fine Arts Club. Catalogue of Pictures by Masters of the Milanese and allied Schools of Lombardy, London, 1898, p. xv. There was a Leda in the Malmaison collection, which passed into that of the King of Holland, \vith which it was sold in 1850. (It is said to be now at Neuwied, where it was banished, after having been for some time at Cassel.) This picture shows the mother of Castor and Pollux with one knee on the ground, tenderly lifting one of the twins, to whom she has just given birth. That hypercritical authority, the Karon von Rumohr, speaks in enthusiastic terms of this picture, which he takes to be a figure of Charity. Signor Morelli, on the other hand, ascribes it to a Flemish hand. My own view is clear. If the mother of Castor and Pollux is represented on her knees, she has no connection with Leonardo's Leda.
In all these copies a child or children appear on the ground to the left of the figure of Leda.
But what has become of Leonardo's original picture? And was it ever really at Fontainebleau? Pere Dan, who published his Trtsor des Merveilles de la Maison de Fontainebleau in the year 1642, makes no reference to it of any kind; and since his time no historian, as far as I know, has been able to find any trace of it.1
In spite of which the worthy Passavant, thinking to throw some light on this obscure subject, supplied Dr. Rigollot, author of the Catalogue de I'Q^uvre de Ldonard de Vinci, with the following note: "The Leda, which was formerly at Fontainebleau, and which is mentioned by Lomazzo, is a cartoon by Michelangelo, now at Berlin.''
Concise as it is, this note is packed with inaccuracies.
In the first place, the Fontainebleau Leda really was Leonardo's Leda, as is easily shown. Michelangelo's Leda cannot be confused for a moment with Leonardo's work. In the first instance, the figure was recumbent. In the second, it was upright. Further, a replica of Michelangelo's Leda is still in existence—not at Berlin, but in London. The late Director of the National Gallery, Sir Frederick Burton, showed it me, some fifteen years ago, in one of the storerooms of the Gallery.
But here is a yet more decisive fact. In 1625, the Commendatore Cassiano del Pozzo, the friend of Poussin and of Rubens, saw Leonardo's Leda on the occasion of a visit to Fontainebleau.2
So much, then, is clear. In 1625 the Palace of Fontainebleau did contain Leonardo da Vinci's Leda. The favourite of Jupiter was depicted standing, almost nude. Close to her, on the ground, lay two eggs, from each of which a pair of twins emerged. A highly finished landscape surrounded the principal figure; the panel consisted of three separate pieces.
1 Goldoni formally asserts, in a letter addressed to his friend de Pagave, at Versailles, and dated Dec. 18, 1775, that nobody in France had ever had any knowledge of a picture of Leda by Leonardo. "Lo stesso vi dirb dclla Leda di qucsto rinomato Pittore. Non esiste alcuna mcmoria in Francia ch'ella vi sia, ne ch'ella vi sia mai stata. Ho veduti ed csaminati varj registri e cataloghi de' quadri antichi del Re, ho veduto anche il catalogo de' quadri distrutti, e di statue mutilate per decisione d'una divozion malintesa, e la Leda del Vinci, non solo non vi si trova, mai Professori e gli amatori Francesi pretendono che mai vi sia stata, e die il Vinci non abbia mai composto un tal quadro" (Uzielli, Ricerche, vol. i., ist ed., p. 124.)
2 E, Miintz and E. Molinier: Le Cluiteau de Fontainebleau au xvii""" Siecle, p. 17.
The importance of this testimony, which I published ten years since, will not escape observation. It supplies a confirmation of Lomazzo's assertion, and proof that the above-mentioned copies reproduce Leonardo's Leda, as regards its general lines at all events.
Pere Dan makes no allusion to the work, probably because it had been consigned to some store-room. It must have disappeared after 1694, for it figures in an inventory of that year, published by M. Herbot.
What has become of the masterpiece? Here, I confess, I see no light. Can Leonardo's creation, in spite of its modesty of treatment, have been cut up, like Correggio's Leda, by some devout bigot? Was it lost in some fire? Was it given by Louis XVI. to some foreign Sovereign, like
the S. John bestowed by the French monarch on Charles I. of England? I refrain, in my complete ignorance, from putting forward any hypothesis whatsoever. I am content to demonstrate, by means of these ancient copies, the comparative accuracy of which I have just proved, with what modest grace, restraint, and dignity the master treated a most dubious subject.
Though, during his various residences at Florence between 1500 Vol. n. z
and 1513, Leonardo does not appear to have used the chisel for any personal creation of his own, he certainly gave his young friend and host, the sculptor Giovanni Francesco Rustici (born 14/4, died 1554) the benefit of his advice. He shared more or less directly in the execution of the group of three bronze statues with which Rustici adorned the Baptistry, and which were placed in position in 1511—S. John the Baptist preaching between the Levite and the Pharisee. According to Vasari, Leonardo's attention was especially given to the preparation of the moulds and to the iron framework intended for the protection of the bronzes, and he even worked with his own hands on the models. There can be no doubt about his influence on the work; it is evident in more than one detail. It struggles with that of Donatello and Michelangelo in these three most expressive figures.l
In Rustici's studio Leonardo met young Baccio Bandinelli, to whom he seems to have shown some friendliness. After seeing his drawings he advised him to attempt working in relief, suggested Donatello as his model, and urged him to do something in marble. Bandinelli did produce an imitation of an antique female bust, which he modelled from an original in the Medici Palace. My readers know how little this mischievous mediocrity justified the confidence with which his great and kind-hearted Mentor had honoured him.
Besides Rustici and Bandinelli, Leonardo gathered a certain number of young men, all of them unknown to fame, about him. As for the pupil described as "ll Fattore," I much doubt his having been Giovanni Francesco Penni,2 for this artist (who was born not in 1486, as has been believed, but in 1496) was then only eight years old. Besides which, it would appear that Penni only received this surname in Raphael's studio. In conclusion, we may mention Jacopo da Pontormo, who, as Vasari affirms, worked for a short time under Leonardo's direction.3
All through this period, scientific enquiry alternated with artistic labour, though the last is not, perhaps, pursued with the same
1 For Leonardo's relations with Rustici see ante, p. 64. (Cf. my Histoire de C Art pendant la Renaissance, vol. iii. p. 409-411.)
2 See Richter, Leonardo, p. 91. 3 Milanesi's edition, vol. vi. p. 246.