The Daily Mail printed an exciting story few days ago about an article by Ross Duffin, a music professor at Cleveland’s Case Western Reserve University, who had identified ‘what he believes to be a rare image of Leonardo da Vinci in a 500-year-old engraving. It was carved by Italian artist Marcantonio Raimondi in 1505, it shows da Vinci playing a lira da braccio – a European bowed string instrument of the Renaissance.’
They have also opened a window reprinting my theory about the Chinese roots of Leonardo, quoting once more an article by the South China Morning Post.
Here is the link:
‘This is serious and stands some chance of being right,’ said Leonardo’s scholar Martin Kemp, a professor emeritus of art history at Oxford University and one of the world’s greatest expert on Leonardo.
It is true that Leonardo Da Vinci left sketches for a theatrical representation of the Orpheus by Angelo Poliziano and was an accomplished musician and singer.
This xylography is not a unique copy, for instance the Albertina Museum in Vienna has another copy and certainly there more around and has belonged to the Cleveland Museum of Art since the 1930s. The figure has long thought to be the Greek mythological figure of Orpheus, even if Orpheus is always represented as a clean-shaven youth and playing the lyre. What I think is that this representation is probably unrelated to the myth of Orpheus and furthermore the two animals close to him were not enchanted by his singing and playing but are simply resting, the dog is actually scratching his head…
Marcantonio Raimondi was a famous engraver (S. Andrea in Argène, Bologna, 1480 – Bologna before 1534). He moved to Venice in 1506 where he reproduced, without permission, some painting of Albrecht Durer into prints and was duly sued by the German artist, who himself had copies sketches by Leonardo Da Vinci, pretending they were his own creations. Raimondi was in contact with all major artists of his time, including Raphael and having moved to Rome in 1510 it is highly possible that he had met Leonardo Da Vinci who was there after 1511.
The problem I see in accepting this engraving as a representation of Leonardo Da Vinci is the fact that Marcantonio Raimondi himself was sporting long curling hairs and a beard, more or less like the possible self-portrait of Leonardo at Windsor and therefore we may be dealing with his self-portrait rather than a portrait of Leonardo.
Here is Marcantonio Raimondi’s self portrait on the left and on the right a portrait made by another engraver: