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Leonardo Da Vinci

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Artist: Leonardo Da Vinci
Created: 1512
Dimensions (cm): 21.3 x 33.3
Format: Red chalk on paper
Location: Biblioteca Reale, Turin, Italy


According to the Italian painter Gianpaolo Lomazzo, “Leonardo's hair and beard were so long, and his eyebrows were so bushy, that he appeared to be the sheer idea of noble wisdom.” Undoubtedly, there is an aura of sagacity that one can perceive in Leonardo Da Vinci’s masterpiece ‘Self-Portrait’.
While there is no question that Leonardo Da Vinci was the creator of ‘Self-Portrait’, there is, however, much debate as to whether or not the image is that of the artist, his uncle Francesco Da Vinci, or his father Ser Piero Da Vinci. This breathtaking red chalk sketch on paper was created between 1512 and 1515, but with regard to its style, the drawing could have been done before 1500, making the subject in the artwork too old to be Da Vinci himself. Nevertheless, some believe that Leonardo painted his image according to his vision of himself as an old man.

Leonardo Da Vinci’s ability with chalk is unmatched. ‘Self-Portrait’ is a composition of intricate details, a meticulous, complex network of very fine lines, making up the hair and face. The artist possessed a skill in portraiture that few artists have been able to duplicate.


In “Sister Wendy’s Story of Painting”, the author opines that, “We can always tell a Leonardo work by his treatment of hair, angelic in its fineness, and by the lack of any rigidity of contour. One form glides imperceptibly into another (the Italian term is sfumato), a wonder of glazes creating the most subtle of transitions between tones and shapes.” She further adds: “The shadow of a great genius is a peculiar thing. Under Rembrandt's shadow, painters flourished to the extent that we can no longer distinguish their work from his own. But Leonardo's was a chilling shadow, too deep, too dark, too overpowering.” - Sister Wendy Beckett

‘Self-Portrait’ by Leonardo Da Vinci is currently located at the Biblioteca Reale in Turin, Italy.


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