“Whereupon he was paroxysmed as a death messenger. For which I stood up the king and took his head to help him and offer them favor, so that the evil lightened him, his spirit, which was divine, knowing he could not have more honor, died in the arms of that king in his age of 75 years.
These are the words with which Vasari tells us about the last moments of the Italian genius par excellence, Leonardo da Vinci, who went to die in a foreign land!
The figure of Leonardo da Vinci has an impressive historical and cultural importance for the whole of humanity, he was and remains the scientist of reference, the most important artist of the Italian Renaissance together with Michelangelo Buonarroti with whom he could also harshly confront.
May 2, 2019 marks the 500th anniversary of his death, a half millennium that has been able to tell his life through his work studied and researched from many points of view.
Leonardo was a man strongly attached to nature, an observer of man and the world around him, he was a great revolutionary in science, and in painting he considered poetry, he applied the laws of nature, painting was science.
The various works of Leonardo have in themselves an aura of mystery for the hidden meanings that he left, ranging from the famous smile mentioned in “The Mona Lisa”, the various interpretations of the figures of “The Last Supper”, and so on to then add the dazzling inventiveness and imagination of his extraordinary machines fantastic and innovative!
Leonardo, therefore, in his versatility, was a man of great charm with a strong and decisive personality, an adventurer always looking for what the very nature of life could suggest to him.
Looking at Leonardo after 500 years means crossing the limits of our existence in order to deepen even more our reality, to realize that history, with such temporal distances, always has unavoidable ties.
Leonardo left his land to seek his fortune abroad and so we can see him again in what still happens today with our best resources, our young scientists who are taken by the feedback of the journey, the fortune to be sought beyond the barricades, physical and mental, that a limited territory alone can not offer.
Today Leonardo is an example of an all-Italian mockery, but not only that of seeing a son of his own land be buried beyond national borders.
Leonardo brought his genius to France, brought the Renaissance to France, brought legendary works that will hardly be able to return to Italian soil!
Today, more than treating Leonardo through his work, which we will see and tell over time, we salute his figure and honor his memory with a simple, modest and almost banal reflection, that of being attentive to the culture and value of educated minds that raise the level of a people, of a territory, so that they can have feedback, so that they can then remain there where the homeland can welcome them forever.
His presumed bones, since in the struggle between Catholics and Huguenots his tomb was desecrated, are buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert in Amboise, France and in fact in this town he arrived by mule with his faithful friend and biographer Francesco Melzi and his servant Battista de Vilanis in 1517, in the service of King Francis I.
Today it is thanks to Leonardo who 500 years ago left the earthly world in the arms of a French king, a genius who must be studied and deepened on the many aspects that his work has left us, today the thought goes to everything that Italian culture must strenuously defend so that such an important heritage is never lost and preserved with care for the future.
Leonardo is among us.
Image on the cover: “The death of Leonardo”, François-Guillaume Ménageot. Musée de l’Hôtel Dieu, Beaune