What did Leonardo da Vinci look like?



This is thought to be a self portrait he included in the lower right hand corner of "Adoration of the Magi" 


Leonardo da Vinci was born in a town called Vinci in 1452. He left behind thousands of pages of journals and hundreds if not thousands of works of art. He was obsessed with mirrors and painted more portraits than anything else (that we know of) so it's been sort of a mystery as to what he really looked like. Why aren't there more, if any, obvious portraits of himself?




Almost every artist, especially painters, and even more so - painters who paint portraits paint themselves a lot. If you have the urge to start painting, and there is no one around - you are always there. I know personally that I have more pictures of myself than anything else. Why? Cause i'm there, all the time.

I would imagine that Leonardo painted himself, a lot. I would go so far as to say he was his own greatest subject. He was obsessed with mirrors, he painted a lot, he wasn't always around a lot of people, and getting people to stay still for long amounts of time is very difficult. When you are looking in a mirror, and painting, you have a subject that will pose for you for as long as you can paint. I would think that in the same way that I taught myself to take portraits, by taking self portraits, da Vinci used his own reflection to do the same.


The logic is sound, but the evidence is evidently lacking. There is really only one sketch that is considered to be a self portrait, and that was in 1516ish when he was already old. Even this sketch is slightly controversial, although I am confident it was by his hand and his face. There is something magic about it and it is one of my favorite images of all time.




We'll start with his older self portrait in red chalk. It at first appears to be a simplistic and almost rudimentary sketch of a face. If you were to imagine it as a real face or a photograph, you would be hard pressed to imagine skin and the color eyes, and tone etc. There is this static appearance that almost look like it was drawn on messy and stained paper and the drawn lines almost look rapid and erratic. That would be our first impression. But on a much closer and imaginative examination we will see that this drawing is more complex than you would ever imagine it to be.





Derek Bair | Itsjustlife.com |  Mona & Da Vinci's Self Portrait Combined
The Mona Lisa and Leo's Self portrait combined. 
First, which I will only graze past is the fact that this face aligns with the face of the Mona Lisa. Why would Leonardo design his self portrait to combine with the face of the Mona Lisa, who was a woman? To explain would make this much more longer. It's already explained on my site itsjustlife.com where there are images and links to previous blogs that explain it.







Second: The seemingly random dots and lines are not as random as they appear. When you apply the mirroring technique to it, they align and create other images. The full explanation will be in my book but the amount of talent and technique required to achieve this is immense. Keep in mind Leonardo is considered the greatest genius who has ever lived, so you could only imagine how intellectually immense he would make his self portrait. Especially after he spent his life perfecting his technique. 







Getting back to what he really looked like, as he would look in a photograph. We are left surprisingly vague. Like I said before there is a huge chance he painted himself many many times. But! We really don't have any clear cut idea of what he looked like. He was such an amazing painter that if he were to paint himself it would almost appear to be more photographic than artistic. But there are no painted self portraits. Why? What did he look like?


This is suppose to be of Leonardo. Who made it? Did da Vinci pose for it?
Its said that he was incredibly attractive. (By his Biographer Vasari) So why not show himself off? My explanation, besides we haven't found these lost paintings, is that he was such a perfectionist, and possibly so 'vain', that he was hesitant to leave behind any image of himself that did not fully (in his mind) live up to a proper representation of himself. I would compare it to a model who is very beautiful, who has both pictures they love and pictures they absolutely hate. But since he wasn't a model but a painter, he was unable to create an image of himself that he was both happy with, and represented his skill as a painter. This would be my explanation for the lack of self portraits. Why Else? Other explanation are welcomed!


I've been researching da Vinci for over 6 years now. I've seen most of his sketches, all of his paintings, and read his bioraphies. During this time I've developed an image of him in my mind. Its based off the images that might be self portraits and my own imagination. Obviously his appearance would vary from year to year and most people imagine him as an old and balding professor. But like everyone else in the world, at one point, in his prime. He probably had a 6pack, he dressed nice, he could sing, play music, and was a party planner for royalty. He wasn't always an old man!



This is "Alex Karev" From Grey's Anatomy played by Justin Chambers 
Whenever I see him in Grey's Anatomy, especially from certain angles -he always reminds me of what Leonardo probably looked like when he was 20-35ish. 




More at http://www.itsjustlife.com/davinci.html

This is an attempt to turn Leonardo's Self portrait into something more photo-realistic. I'm not nearly finished. 
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