Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Compelling Faces in Art - Gian Giacomo Caprotti, Head of Christ.

Head of Christ is the only painting signed by Gian Giacomo Caprotti, but it is believed by some to be a da Vinci and there is speculation that Caprotti was the model. 

Caprotti (known as Salaì) was born in 1480 as son of Pietro di Giovanni, a tenant of Leonardo’s vineyard near the Porta Vercellina, Milan, and joined Leonardo’s household at the age of ten as an assistant. He has been described as “a graceful and beautiful youth with curly hair, in which Leonardo greatly delighted”. Although Leonardo described him as “a liar, a thief, stubborn and a glutton” and he stole from Leonardo on at least five occasions, he kept him in his household for more than 25 years, in which he trained as an artist. 

A number of drawings among the works of Leonardo and his pupils make reference to Salai’s sexuality. It has been suggested, as early as the 16th century, that there was a sexually intimate relationship between Leonardo and Salai, but this cannot be known for certain. 

A group of Italian researchers has claimed that Salaì was the model for the Mona Lisa, noting the similarity in some of the facial features, particularly the nose and mouth, to those in which Salai is thought to have been the model. These claims have been disputed by the Louvre.

This image is a detail of the painting. I chose it, because it is here where we can get a glimpse of the “Little Devil,” as da Vinci was known to refer to him. I can see how the purpose of his lies are to escape punishment, or work, or responsibility, and are most likely used for profit.

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