Testa di vecchio e schizzo di congegno meccanico

Head of Old Man and Sketch of Mechanical Device

Leonardo da Vinci

Author
Leonardo da Vinci
(Vinci 1452 - Amboise 1519)
Title
Head of Old Man and Sketch of Mechanical Device
Catalogue
234
Technique and material
Pen, brown ink and watercolour, light walnut wood paper

DISPLAY AND CONSERVATION

To avoid deterioration, the drawing must be conserved in a light- and temperature-controlled environment. For this reason, drawings and prints are not always on permanent display.

HEAD OF OLD MAN AND SKETCH OF MECHANICAL DEVICE

Rather than a real caricature, this representation of the head of an old man is a rough observation on the theme of physical transience in advanced old age. The dense hatching, devoid of any hesitancy, mercilessly underlines the deep wrinkles that mark his face, his toothless mouth, his sagging eyelids, and his thinning hair. This study of old age is tied to the notion of the onward march of time, a theme Leonardo often reflected on, as we can see from his notes. A comparison with Giorgione’s The Old Woman, without proposing a direct relationship between the two works, clearly indicates how an objetive, non-academic anaysis of reality, which Leonardo undertook by eschewing any form of aesthetic sugar-coating, must have impressed and influenced the young painter from Castelfranco Veneto.

A little mechanical sketch in the lower section of the drawing, most likely of a flying contraption, is not only testament to the artist’s wide range of interests, but also shows how his frequent re-use of paper was a sign of his frugality.

 

NOTICE

Due to ongoing restoration work, the Cabinet of Prints and Drawings is temporarily closed for consultation until further notice.

Due to ongoing restoration work, the Cabinet of Prints and Drawings is temporarily closed for consultation until further notice.