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Attributed to Francesco Melzi (1493-1570)

Leonardo da Vinci c. 1515-18

RCIN 912726

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This is the only reliable surviving portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, executed towards the end of his life by his pupil Francesco Melzi. The sheet has been shaped for mounting and discoloured from exposure to light, and probably hung for many years in Melzi's villa as a relic of his master. Reproduced in Vasari's Lives (cat. 137), this image of Leonardo with long hair and beard converged during the sixteenth century with the supposed likeness of Aristotle to become the standard pattern for the venerable natural philosopher.

No. 96