Notes and anecdotes on daily life

Notes and anecdotes on daily life

Leonardo's day-to-day life has often risked becoming legend. But his autograph papers paint a very human and far from mythological portrait of the genius from Vinci. To discover the real face of Leonardo, then, we should start from these documents rich in intuition and observations.

  • The Bargello was the Palazzo del Podestà in Leonardo's time. His father Ser Piero exercised his profession of notary there. It was precisely here that Bernardo di Bandino Baroncelli, one of the members of the Pazzi Conspiracy, was executed. Leonardo portrayed him  dead in the famous Impiccato, a drawing preserved in the Musée Bonnat at Bayonne in France.

  • The place most frequently used for this game, beloved by the people of Florence in the fifteenth-century, was then, as it is now, Piazza Santa Croce. It is significant that Leonardo advised painters to observe human movements especially when playing ball games.

  • The Anonymous Gaddiano recalls the quarrel between Leonardo and Michelangelo that took place in front of the palace. This building was purchased in the 17th century by Marchese Feroni (whose family came from Vinci) and is today the seat of the Ferragamo Museum.

  • Folco Portinari was the father of the Beatrice immortalised by Dante. The family, which had close ties with Flanders, brought the famous Portinari Triptych of Hugo van der Goes to Florence. This work, now in the Uffizi, was destined to exert a powerful influence on Leonardo. Due to his thorough knowledge of the customs of the people of northern Europe, Leonardo turned to one of the Portinari to find information on ice-skating.

  • The lion menagerie was situated behind Palazzo Vecchio, in today's Via del Leone: Leonardo recalls it in two folios. The drawing of a lion is found again in a famous rebus in which Leonardo played on his own name. It is worth mentioning also the mechanical lion, an automaton that moved up to open its chest, created by Leonardo for the king of France and the Florentine community in Lyon.