da Vinci

1452 - 1519

 Renaissance Art Map
     Leonardo da Vinci - biography
     Leonardo da Vinci
     1452-1481 Leonardo in the Florence of the Medici    
     1482-1499 At the court of Ludovico il Moro    
     1500-1508 The return to Florence    
     1508-1513 The Milan of Charles d'Amboise    
     1513-1519 The last years: Rome and France    



Leonardo da Vinci
c. 1512




At the court of Ludovico il Moro



Mantua, Venice, and the Romagna


In 1499, Louis XII, reaffirming sovereignty over Milan, invaded the duchy. II Moro attempted a comeback but, defeated at Novara in 1500, died an exile in France. At that time Leonardo left as well. First he went to Venice, which, in 1500 was under threat by the Turks, and sought his advice on military matters. He then turned to the Mantuan court of Isabella d'Este, the daughter of Eleonora of Aragon and the mother of Francesco Gonzaga. The marchioness commissioned the painting of a Madonna for her private study, a Twelve-year-old Christ, and a half-length portrait of herself which was never to be completed. After his journey to Venice Leonardo returned to the Este court as an architect and to advise on the purchase of items for the court collection. Between 1502 and 1503, perhaps as secret agent of the Republic alongside Machiavelli, he visited the Romagna with Cesare Borgia and then accompanied the latter to Piombino.


The Battle of Pavia, Capodimonte, Naples. The battle ended in the defeat of France.


Leonardo da vinci, Cartoon for the Portrait of Isabella d'Este,
c.1499, Musee du Louvre, Paris.
Connected with the medal of Gian Cristoforo Romano (1498),
 the cartoon, reflects the style of archaic medal portraiture.
The austerity of the head is modified by the movement of the bust.



Cristoforo Solari, Funeral Monument to Ludovico il Moro and Beatrice d'Este, Certosa, Pavia.
The tomb statues originally created by the Lombard sculptor to be placed in Bramante's tribune of Santa Maria delle Grazie were transferred to the Certosa in Pavia in 1564.


Andrea Mantegna, Parnassus, 1497,
Musee du Louvre, Paris.
Together with the Triumph of Virtue, Mantegna painted this large canvas for the studiolo of Isabella d'Este. Educated by Guarino Guarini and other famous humanists, the marchioness, a scholar and writer, had contacts with Baldassare Castiglione, Matteo Bandello, Ludovico Ariosto, Matteo Maria Boiardo, Pietro Bembo, and Gian Giorgio Trissino.


Bernardino Luini, Jesus Among the Doctors,
first decade of 16th century,
National Gallery, London.
Probably a copy of the painting which Isabella commissioned from Leonardo, this work is notable for the shift in the axes of the composition: Christ is not teaching the apostles but addresses us as spectators. This device, previously adopted by Antonello da Messina in his Virgin of the Annunciation, was to be repeated by Leonardo in his Angel of the Annunciation. With this direct involvement of the observer, Leonardo's conception appears more radical than the conventional approach of Antonello.


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