Leonardo da Vinci

Biography
Summary

A Troubled Beginning: 1476-1482

Summary A Troubled Beginning: 1476-1482

Saint Jerome is another painting dating from just before Leonardo's departure for Milan. Like the Adoration, it was never finished.

Commentary

Although Leonardo managed to be fairly productive in Florence, it is not surprising that he left. He was not able to complete either of the major commissions he received, the two "Adorations." He was charged with sodomy. Although many biographers gloss over this issue, quickly stating that the case was dismissed, it is important for two reasons.

First, it was perhaps the start of a lifetime of paranoia on Leonardo's part. He often drew grotesque pictures of gossiping townspeople, and he rated calumny, or malicious gossip, as a serious evil.

The second major implication of the sodomy case is, of course, the question of Leonardo's sexuality. Homosexuality was common in quatrocento Florence, and several things indicate that Leonardo was probably gay. He never married or showed any (recorded) interest in women; indeed, he wrote in his notebooks that male-female intercourse disgusted him. His anatomical drawings naturally include the sexual organs of both genders, but those of the male exhibit much more extensive attention. Finally, Leonardo surrounded himself with beautiful young male assistants, such as Salai and Melzi.

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