LEONARDO DA VINCI, Italian Renaissance polymath was born (d. 1519); How much of what is known about the sexuality of this greatest of history’s geniuses is fact and how much is speculation? Here’s what we know:
(1) When he was 23 and working in Verocchio’s workshop, Leonardo was accused of having committed homosexual acts with one Jacopo Saltarelli, aged seventeen, and described as “a boy of ill-repute.”
(2) He complained in his notebooks of his attachment to his student Andrea Salaino, whom he nicknamed “Salai” “(“little devil”). Calling Salai a liar and a thief, he was nonetheless obsessed with the handsome young man to have left him a good portion of his estate.
(3) Francesco Melzi, Salai’s replacement as Leonardo’s assistant, was left the larger part of the master’s estate.
These are the known facts. That Leonardo chose his students for their looks is contemporary gossip. That all his female subjects were painted from young male models is speculation. That the Mona Lisa is actually a man is a pretty giggly idea.
Thirty years ago, the then-daring Sexology magazine attempted to prove this assertion by dressing up the famous painting with a boy’s haircut and clothing. Without knowing it, Sexology actually came up with definite proof that the Mona Lisa is really Julie Andrews.