Guest Post by Sarah Kubican:
The art world is getting a Machiavellian twist: a letter from one hundred forty-five years ago discovered last year in a chateau previously owned by an influential diplomat who served under Napoleon’s and other French reigns mentions a portrait of the famous philosopher painted by Leonardo da Vinci himself. More recently, a painting portraying a bald man may be the one referred to in the previously discovered letter. While some like the director of the historic house in which the painting was found, Sylvie Giroux, have a sense of optimism about the portrait’s origins, others share the opinion of Anne Gerardot, a local archivist, “Just because it says so in the archives does not mean it’s true.” The wooden support of the painting seems to support this idea as it is smooth, unlike those of Leonardo’s time; however, it is unclear whether the support is just the result of a restoration during the 1890s. Regardless, the chateau plans on testing the painting extensively. Maybe we’ll answer the question of whether da Vinci “took a picture” of Machiavelli to prove that they met? Or vice versa? I have this funny picture of Machiavelli in my head like some over-eager tourist, “Oh my gosh, you’re that painter! Why don’t you just- I’ll stand right here and- I cannot believe you’re painting my picture!” Unrealistic, but a picture, perhaps a projection, I entertain nonetheless.