If you’re gonna steal, steal big, that’s what we say. There are dozens of surviving copies of Leonardo’s MADONNA OF THE YARNWINDER. Some done by LDV, others done by his assistants and followers. And there’s been a lot of debate over which one, or which ones, were done by Leonardo. And one of them was even stolen in a brazen daylight heist from a Scottish castle.
Leonardo’s lack of interest in finishing Isabella D’este’s portrait tells us a lot about who he was, and what he cared about, on his return to Florence in 1500. Like all good podcasters, he didn’t care about money or fame. He just wanted to work on projects that interested him. And her portrait was not one of those things, despite her fame, power, wealth, beauty, perseverance and love of Nutella.
By the time Leonardo finally returned to Florence, in late March 1500, not long after the execution of Savonarola, the city was once again a Republic that celebrated the classics and the arts, but its confidence had been shaken. He was the right man to lead the way.
In the late 1490s, Leo’s life started to unravel. Sforza’s life hits the rocks and Leo’s fortunes are attached to his. So he finds another sugar daddy.
To mark our 150th episode, we sat outside the North Rim Lodge at the Grand Canyon and talked about what we’ve learned from the series thus far. We were a little bit tired, a little bit high, and the wind was strong. We also gave each other COVID. And I was recording it on my iPad and absent-mindedly tapping it for emphasis at certain points. So apologies in advance for the rough sound and occasional wind. But that’s the great outdoors, baby!