Portrait of a man in red chalk (Leonardo)

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Portrait of an elderly man
Leonardo da Vinci - presumed self-portrait - WGA12798.jpg
Artist Leonardo da Vinci
Year c. 1512
Type Red chalk on paper
Dimensions 33.3 cm × 21.6 cm (13.1 in × 8.5 in)
Location Biblioteca Reale, Turin

The portrait of a man in red chalk (circa 1510) in the Biblioteca Reale, Turin is the only certain self portrait of Leonardo da Vinci. It is thought that Leonardo da Vinci drew this self-portrait at about the age of 60. The portrait has been extensively reproduced and has become an iconic representation of Leonardo as a polymath or "Renaissance Man".

Description and provenance[edit]

The portrait is drawn in red chalk on paper. It depicts the head of an elderly man in three-quarter view, turned towards the viewer's right. The subject is distinguished by his long hair and long waving beard which flow over the shoulders and breast. The length of the hair and beard is uncommon in Renaissance portraits and suggests, as now, a person of sagacity. The face has a somewhat aquiline nose and is marked by deep lines on the brow and pouches below the eyes. It appears as if the man has lost his upper front teeth, causing deepening of the grooves from the nostrils. The eyes of the figure do not engage the viewer but gaze ahead, veiled by the long eyebrows, with a sense of solemnity.

The drawing has been drawn in fine lines, shadowed by hatching and executed with the left hand, as was Leonardo's habit. The paper has brownish "fox marks" caused by the accumulation of iron salts due to moisture. It is housed at the Royal Library (Biblioteca Reale) in Turin, Italy, and is not generally viewable by the public due to its fragility and poor condition. “Researchers have developed a nondestructive way to gauge the condition of the drawing by quantifying the chromophores in the paper, the culprit behind its yellowing. Their technique, described in Applied Physics Letters (2014), will be used to assess the rate at which the image is degrading and to estimate its life expectancy.” [1]


External links[edit]


  • Audi Laura, Bernacci Katia Torino Rosso Porpora,un thriller su Leonardo ambientato a Torino - Accademia Vis Vitalis ,2011 Torino
  • Milena Magnano, Leonardo, collana I Geni dell'arte, Mondadori Arte, Milano 2007, pag. 134. ISBN 978-88-370-6432-7