Leonardo Da Vinci 's Portrait Of Cecilia Gallerani Essay

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Leonardo’s sexuality was always an unclear construct. Regardless of whom he preferred romantically, many of his portraits are absolutely filled with sensuality. There is something so obvious, so crude, about Leonardo da Vinci 's portrait of Cecilia Gallerani that it might seem beneath discussion. The 16-year-old mistress of the ruler of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, is stroking an ermine. The creature is white, furry and bony. Scholars have written reams about this ermine 's significance as an allegory of purity. With its long snout and serpentine body, her pet looks unmistakably phallic – and her control of it suggests that Sforza has been tamed by his young mistress. Leonardo 's Cecilia has sloping, slender shoulders, white skin over delicate collarbones, a pale throat adorned with a black necklace, an exquisitely elongated face with a superb nose. She is turning to look at someone, perhaps at Sforza himself. This sidewards turn gives the artist an unselfconscious view of her, and in it one senses the depth of Leonardo 's fascination. It is not just Sforza who adores Cecilia. From this portrait, it looks as if the painter is attracted to her, as well. The idea that Leonardo could be aroused by a woman at all is a bit of a surprise. This is not the image of him that has come down to us. Ever since Renaissance witnesses recorded that he loved to surround himself with beautiful young men, his homosexuality has been an open secret. As a youth, he was twice accused of sodomy,

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