Alas, poor Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci …
For five and a half centuries he has been recognized as an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. And tonight he has been elevated, delegated, or relegated to becoming the main character in a cable TV mini-series centered around a lot of flights of fantasy, whoring around, gratuitous heterosexual nudity, homoerotic dallying, gratuitous homosexual nudity, drug use, secret societies, name dropping from the character list of The Borgias and the fact that he was a bastard. Through no fault of his own, that last item was true. The title alone, DA VINCI’S DEMONS gives the impression that he was some kind of psychotic madman, but that’s the basis for most of the TV series this year.
I realize that what we know historically about Leonardo is based on just fifteen surviving paintings, a lot of notes sketches and drawings, a handful of church records, the histories of the famous with whom he associated, legends, rumors, pure speculation and the scriptwriter’s kinky imagination. It’s a shame that we’ll never know the real story behind a man who was one of the greatest geniuses in recorded history.
The first episode wasn’t all that bad. The actor playing Leo’s right hand stooge, Nikko, actually has a face right out of a Renaissance painting. (Probably all created in the makeup trailer.) And some of the naked bodies did provide a bit of eye-candy-perversion. But I digress. It is a historical art fact that artists of that time period did not use nude female models for their paintings. The models were young men … often students of the master painter. Da Vinci even worked as a model for his teacher in his youth.