Autoritratto (1517/1518) by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)Musei Reali
Leonardo da Vinci’s famous Self-Portrait was drawn on a sheet of high-quality paper with a distinct texture. It is a picture that forms part (and will form part) of the many initiatives undertaken to mark the 5th centenary of the artist’s death.
The self-portrait was probably created around 1517 when da Vinci was 65 years old.
Da Vinci had a venerable appearance and looked older than he actually was. This is apparent in the self-portrait housed in Turin. However, here, the noble appearance of old age as the natural evolution of life and not as “decrepitude,” as da Vinci would put it, can be appreciated.
From the rediscovered descriptions of da Vinci's physical appearance, we learn that he actually had a very thick head of hair, just as it appears in his self-portrait.
The famous drawing reflects the artist’s typical graphic design, with some parts only sketched out and others more defined.
In this case, the beard frames a face turned three quarters to the right (for the viewer), which seems absorbed in deep thoughts.
The power of his gaze comes from the contrast between the eyebrows and the direction of the eyes, which are focused towards the viewer (the mirror) and not, as has been written many times, towards the horizon.
André Chastel wrote that this beautiful red-chalk drawing housed in Turin is the only authentic self-portrait of da Vinci.
Chastel also wrote that this design “was used by Luini to depict Leonardo in his Heraclitus and Democritus (between 1520 and 1531), where the Florentine master naturally lends his features to the frowning philosopher”.
There is still much to study about this fascinating piece. In the meantime, it can only be admired and preserved it for future generations.