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LEONARDO AND FREUD: AN ART-HISTORICALSTUDY*
BY MEYER SCHAPIRO
In the literature on art, Freud's little book on Leonardo-Eine des Leonardoda Vinci (A ChildhoodReminisKindheitserinnerung cence of Leonardoda Vinci) '-has been the prime example of divination of an artist's personality through psychoanalytic concepts. Whatever one may think of Freud's conclusions, an unprejudiced readerwill recognizethe hand of a masterin his powerfultheory which is expoundedthere with a beautiful simplicity and vigor. Ingenious in probinghithertounnoticedavowalsof the artist, the book also commind and characmands admirationfor its noble image of Leonardo's ter. But most students of art who have written on Leonardosince this work appearedhave ignoredit, although they are concernedlike Freud with the artist's psychologyin accountingfor singularfeatures of his art.2 Only lately, Sir Kenneth Clark,in one of the best recent books on Leonardo,has paid homage to Freud in acceptingas a deep insight Freud'sexplanationof the painting of St. Anne, the Virgin and Child; 3 but he has not followed Freud in the more essential matter the painter'spersonality.4 What has been lackingof characterizing
after forty-five years-is an evaluation of Freud's book from the point
of view of the history of art. The results of such a study are presented here not in orderto criticizepsychoanalytictheory, but rather
to judge its application to a problem in which the data, it must be said, are extremely sparse.5
* This article is the substanceof a lecture given at the William AlansonWhite Institute, New York City, on January 12, 1955. 1 In the series: Schriften zur angewandtenSeelenkunde,Heft VII (Leipzig, Vienna, 1910). Englishtranslationby A. A. Brill, with the title: Leonardoda Vinci (New York, 1916), now reprintedin Anchor Books. Important for the notes by Marie Bonaparte, the translator and editor, is the French edition: Un souvenir d'enfancede Leonardde Vinci (Paris, 1927). All our quotationsare from the German edition of the collected works: SigmundFreud, GesammelteWerke (London, 1943), VIII, 127-211, referredto hereafteras GW. 2 E.g., L. H. Heydenreich, Leonardoda Vinci (London,New York, Basel, 1954), on " Personalityand Appearance." who includesa special bibliography 3 Sir Kenneth Clark,Leonardoda Vinci, 1940 (2nd ed., Cambridge,1952), especially 4, 151, 169n. 4 Marcel Brion, Leonard de Vinci (Paris, 1952), 13, follows Freud's authorship;where he Freud's point on this picture without acknowledging does refer to him by name, as on p. 130, he misrepresentshim seriously. He also speaks of the episode of the bird as capital for Leonardo'slife (on 12, 216, 217) without citing Freud. MonsieurBrion attributes to psychoanalysisthe view that Leonardowas deprivedof maternallove and thereforedevelopedvarious complexes (454). 5 The article of Erwin O. Christensen,"Freud on Leonardoda Vinci," Psychoanalytic Review, XXXI (1944), 153-64, is completelyuncritical.
MEYER SCHAPIRO I
In reading Leonardo'snotebooks,Freud was especially struck by the followingpassagewhich I quote from his own text: " This writing distinctly about the vulture seems to be my destiny, because among the first recollectionsof my infancy it seemed to me that as I lay in my cradle a vulture came to me and opened my mouth with its tail and struckme many times with its tail inside my lips."6 interestedno one who had previously That memoryof Leonardo's written on the artist, althoughit is the only referenceto his childhood in the immensemass of notes. From experiencewith patients, Freud had come to believe that such recollectionsdo not concern real episodes but are adult fantasies which are referred back to childhood because of a related experienceand owe their meaning to the latter. He observedthat among his patients dreamsor fantasies of this kind are sexual images; they pertain to a wish that is commonin passive homosexualswho have transposedto the adult sexual sphere an experience of their infancy. The vulture's phallic tail in the child's mouth replacesthe mother'sbreast. Why did Leonardosubstitute a vulture for the mother? Here Freud's great curiosity about philology, folklore and archaeologystudies which, like psychoanalysis, uncover and decipher a hidden past-came into play. He recalledthat in Egyptian writingthe hieroglyph for " mother" is a vulture and that the vulture-headedgoddess Mut is sometimes representedwith a phallus. The resemblanceof "Mut" and "Mutter" is one that Freudcouldnot regardas accidental. The vulture, he supposed,was identifiedwith the mother in Leonardo'sfantasy not only because the latter knew the equivalence of mother and vulture in Egyptian writing-Egyptian ideas were available to the Italians of the Renaissancethrough a Hellenistic author, Horapollo-but also becauseof the belief, held by the Egyptians, the Greeksand the Romans,that the vulture exists only in the female sex. This strangebird conceivedthroughthe wind, and was thereforecited by the Churchfathers as a natural prototype of the Virgin birth. If a vulture could be fecundatedby the wind, then Mary could conceive through the Holy Spirit. Although Freud knew no Renaissancetext of this belief and referredto older writerslike St. Augustine,the idea was current in Leonardo'stime. In a treatise by Pierio Valeriano, dedicatedto Cosimo di Medici, the vulture is mentioned as a natural analogue of the Virgin Mary because of its marvellous fecundation by the wind.7
6 GW, VIII, 156ff. Ioannis Pierii ValerianiHieroglyphica,sive de sacris Aegyptiorumaliarumque libri LVIII (Cologne, 1631), lib. xviii, cap. 4, pp. gentium litteris commentariorum 217, 218. The originaledition dates from 1556.
. "? 'f (Reroucd heVrginand ? ii%'~~Buligtn y outey hildwithSt.gj~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~. Jon f rt. f heRoalAcdey nne nd S.:i FIGUR 1. Batist ose L ndn onon . A.:.
.'.: _ - _ t . Child with Anne. ??_ ?: ? ?? ?i: ???iAii?: i..t X '. ."~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~LurPrs (Reproduced with the permissionof Fratelli Alinari.. Firenze) . b l? '. _ ?i FIGURE 2. Firenze)~~~~~~~~~~::: ?~~...::'. 4._| |-' a_ <l A_~~~~~~~~~~~ 1: i..:".. Louvre. (Reproduced with the permission of Fratelli Alinari.: ?ii? _ii* FIUE2 h iri n hl wt t ne I *...I _ i".:. The Virgin and St.ft :: . Paris.
took the little boy to his home as an adopted son. through a divine miracle. His normal infantile inquisitiveness. It should be said that Freud regardsthese early experiencesas a necessary but not sufficient condition of Leonardo'sgrowth. and the stepmother. Why there took place a partial repressiontogether with an unusually inlibido (or sexual energy) in the tense sublimationof the unrepressed artistic and scientific spheres-in accordancewith Freud's theory of the convertibility of psychic forces-he admits he does not know. her passionate kisses stimulated Leonardoto a precocioussexuality and fixation upon herself. but also the courseof his artistic career. as Walter Pater had . in painting the group of Saint Anne with Mary his two and the infant Christ. was unconstrained by parental authority. In both versions-the cartoon in the Royal Academy in London (fig.stimulated by the absence of the father.he knew her as a virgin parent. This image of the two young mothersof equal grace and charmwas explainedby Freud as an invention of Leonardo's.Mary was born. On that infantile situation dependednot only Leonardo'spassive homosexuality.the first wife of Piero da Vinci.which only an artist with his childhood experiencecould have devised. we must admit that the essence of the artistic function also remains inaccessibleto psychoanalysis.Freud continues. Caterina.Leonardoremembered mothers. The organicbases of characterlie outside the domainof psychoanalyticresearch. 2)-Mary looks only slightly younger than her mother. so that his instinct of investigation could later develop freely and venture beyond the boundariesof contemporarybeliefs. The child thus enjoyed the affection of two mothers. the natural mother. Biologicalmake-updeterminesin some individualsa reactionof strong repression.Albiera.in others. The appeal of the Mona Lisa had a similarorigin in Leonardo's early life. sublimation. contrary to the apocryphal legend accordingto which Anne was childless and beyond the age of bearingwhen. being intimately bound up with sublimation. and the outcome of his scientific bent." When Leonardowas less than five years old. He remainedattachedthereafterto the image of his mother and could only be attracted by boys like the one she had loved.LEONARDO AND FREUD 149 Readingsuch an ancient text. 1) and the painting in the Louvre (fig. Leonardocould associatethe vulture with his mother because. " The artistic gift and the capacity for work. perhapswhen he was three (Freud supposes) his father. Years later. as an illegitimate child brought up without the father. who had marriedshortly after Leonardo'sbirth and had no childrenby this marriage. Freud assumesthat in her abandonmentand loneliness. a peasant girl in the town of Vinci.with its strangeinhibitions.she lavished upon the child all the love that would otherwise have gone to the father.
OskarPfister. II Let us considerfirst the text about the vulture. The key to all of Leonardo'saccomplishments and misfortuneslies hidden in the infantile fantasy about the vulture. it was after portrayingMona Lisa that he painted Saint Anne with the Virgin and infant Christ. 1939). I have omitted much of the theoretical matter on which Freudbuilds his interpretation. 146-151. enveloping her waist and the lower part of her body.an English student of Renaissanceart. he was convinced. The conceptionof the smiling woman is itself a re-animated memory of the tendernessof his devoted mother.10 bird which the artist rememberedas having inserted its tail in his Oskar Pfister."9 In presentingthe argument. "Psychoanalyseund bildende Kunst. Pfister repeats the observationin his article."Jahrbuchfur psychoanalytische V (1913). 610. throughLeonardo's portrait. In the account of Leonardo. It was objected in 1923by Eric Maclagan. . Freud was awarethat much of his book rested on uncertain assumptionsabout the artist'slife and that his method was risky. "Kryptolalie. 9 GW. This discovery was of his decipherment acceptedby Freud as an unexpectedconfirmation " of the infantile memory.I have not achieved the persuasiveness of Freud. that with the available facts a better explanationwould requirethe further developmentof psychoanalytic concepts. so far as they concernLeonardo'sart. Leonardo'sart begins then with the kind of image that dominates his mature years-the smiling maternal woman and her child.GW. Vasari describesas his first works some plaster sculpturesof smiling women and of children.150 MEYER SCHAPIRO alreadydivined. Not long after Freud'sfirstpublicationof his workon Leonardo. appearsat the left. quoted by Freud and illustrated. Das psychoanalytische Volksbuch(Bern. has haunted the Western world ever since. VIII. the robe is prolongedlike a vulture's tail. This smilingwomanwhose face. 210. attracted the painter precisely because she touched his childhoodmemory.had misreadLeonardo.8 The bird's head. Normalen. VIII. however. ending in the child's mouth. Meng.relyingon a Germantranslation." in E.endowingthe faces of the womenwith the same smile.written about thirty years after the artist's death. with its marked beak.discernedin the painting at the Louvre the form of a vulture in the blue robe of Mary. 187. But I believe I have given the essential points of his speculation and theory. 188. whose reconstructionof the artist's personality is a moving and coherentaccount of the psychologicalfortunes of a man of genius. Kryptographieund unbewussterVexierbild bei und psychopathologische Forschungen. on the other side.an analyst-disciple. Federnand H. that The Freud.
Richter. accordingto the directionin which it to the turn wishes to turn. "When the kite in descendingturns itself right over and pierces the air head downwards. the change in the bird'scoursecorresponds of the tail.see J.f." Burlington Magazine. Freud'squestion about the originof Leonardo's fantasy remains. and in this action the wings are used sometimes very little.but the kite is named more often than any other. no. but more probably a servant.422. like the rudderof a ship which when turned turns the ship. 66r). that the entry in Leonardo's XLII (1923). and then again bending the tail swiftly. notes about the funeral of a Caterinadid not concernLeonardo's mother. sometimesnot at all. che un nibbio venisse a me e mi aprissela bocca colla sua coda. perche nella prima ricordatione io in culla. (London. 1122." the when are times the bird beats the cornerof its tail in "Many orderto steer itself." For the Italian text and the translation. 1939). II. too. nor is it the bird which is cited by the Churchfathers in connectionwith the Virgin Birth.it is clear to us that Leonardowas reflecting on how he came to write about the kite. see p. More important.it is not the bird represented by the Egyptians in the hieroglyph for "mother. 1 Maclagan observed. . 15 Ibid. it is forcedto bend the tail as far as it can in the opposite direction to that which it desires to follow. 423 (Codex Atlanticus. I do not proposeto investigate its psychoanalyticmeaning-this would be beyond my power-but something can be learned about its manifest content by ordinarytextual study. New York. "Leonardo in the ConsultingRoom.12 It occurson the back of a sheet on which he has noted various observationson the flight of birds." A kite is also a rapaciousbird. 1939). The Literary Works of Leonardoda Vinci. Toronto. MacCurdy(New York. Re-readingthe passage. essendo destino. 14Ibid."1 Yet although the passage concernsa kite rather than a vulture. the next passage (485) mentionsthe kite's tail. 12 The passage reads: " Questoscriversidistintamente del nibbio par che sia mio della mia infantia e' mi parea che."15 " At the tail of the kite there is the stroke of the air which presses 10 Eric Maclagan.by Ed. The movements of the tail in particularoffersome hints for the design of a flying machine. consideringthe context and the small expenditurefor the burial.. 2nd ed.. e molte volte mi percuotessecon tal coda dentro alle labra. 14 but in the opposite direction. but no eater of carrionand looks quite differentfrom the vulture. Leonardo'swritings are available in a more complete English translation: The Notebooks of Leonardoda Vinci.LEONARDO AND FREUD 151 mouth was not a vulture. as Freud had thought. 54-57. 1363. but a kite-the Italian word is "nibbio. 484. P. it is for Leonardothe bird in which he can best observe the natural mechanismsof flight.13 In his writingson flight several birds are mentioned. For the passageon the kite. 342." to which folklore attributes only a female sex. 13 MacCurdy. 489.
it will be asked.20 Leonardo's choice of the kite as the bird of his destiny has apparently more to do with his scientific problem than Freud supposed. (Basel. 469.152 MEYER SCHAPIRO with fury closing up the void which the movement of the bird leaves of itself." 19 Hieroglyphica. but an establishedliterary pattern. 18 Naturalis Historia. lib. ants filled his mouth with grains of wheat as he slept. 1163. we read: "The kite is the symbol of the art of steering." On the same page. XVII. cap. 20 Ibid. note also the chapter heading: How the tail of the bird is used as a rudder (453). X. quoting Pliny: "the example of the kite taught men how to steer boats. cap.in his book On Divination. In the chapter on the kite. 12: " iam videntur artem gubernandidocuisse caudaeflexibus. pp. 16Ibid. This fantasy about an incident of childhoodas an omen of adult fortune or genius is no unique form. the famous king of Phrygia. Pliny. imitated from the tails of birds. 17 Ibid. Pliny wrote: "It seems that this bird by the movements of its tail taught the art of steersmanship. 1575). The same text of Pliny was quoted in 1499 by Polydore Vergil. 229. . one may see there an allusion to the characteristicmovement of the tail against the wind and the currents of air of which the breath is a counterpart.. we know that he possessedthe Natural History of Pliny. Although hardly a complete explanation." 19 According to Valeriano." 16 Leonardo'sidea that the kite's tail can serve as a model for a rudder. probablyin the Italian translation." and. 40. De reruminventoribuslibri octo. Leonardowrites: " We may say the same of the rudder placed behind the movement of the ship. lib. the rudderis derived from the kite's tail. as to which experience teaches us how much more readily this small rudderis turning during the rapid movements of great ships than the whole ship itself.he owes to a classicalauthor. 214. the kite is an emblem for the pilot. nature demonstratingin the sky what was requiredin the deep. 214. cap. and this occursat each side of the void so created. this brings us a little closer to Leonardo'sthought. Cicero. From a list of booksthat Leonardojotted down in his papers."18 This passage was quoted by the same Valeriano whom I have cited above on the vulture.. 15. 213. does he locate the episodein his childhood? Why the strange associationof the kite with the infant's mouth? Here again a philologicalapproachis helpful.17 In his account of the kite ("milvus"). Why. was a child. writes: "When Midas.. in his book on emblems and symbols. whom he quotes in other places. If in Leonardo'sfantasy the kite beats its tail in the child's mouth.in caelo monstrantenatura quod opus esset in profundo.
309. and then they flew away so high that the eye could not follow them. 2. by Jacobus Voragine (c. 45). bees settled on his lips and this was interpretedto mean he would have a rare sweetness of speech. In anotherplace in the same workon flight-a note written on the cover-Leonardo resortsto the image of a bird to expresshis hopes for successful flight: "The great bird [that is.lib. I. 1941). II. cit.generally a bird or bee. 24Descriptionof Greece.Loeb Library. Bees flew over him and depositedwax on his lips. The same story is told about the infant Pindar by Philostratus (Imagines. Pliny. and adapted from the Latin by GrangerRyan and Helmut Ripperger (2 vols. but the characteristic investment of the mouth with a symbol of that future. This common topos was adopted by the Christiansfor their own heroes. giving him the gift of song. 23 Pliny. the omen is located in the mouth.23 According to Pausanias. whose treatise on heroes and exemplaryindividualswas one of the most widely read books in Leonardo'stime. writes that a "nightingale alighted on the mouth of the sleepinginfant Stesichorus"who becamea greatlyric poet. 25. XII. Jones. 268. lib. 6. 23. 1546). alights upon the child's mouth or enters it as an omen of future greatness. Valerius Maximus. 43."24 In all these classical legends. X.IX. known in Leonardo's time.LEONARDO AND FREUD 153 It was predicted that he would be a very wealthy man.Aelian. 12) and Aelian (VariaeHistoriae) lib. VariaeHistoriae. greatly frightened. 22MoraliumExemplorumlibri novem (Venice. and so it turned out. op. his flying machine] will take its first flight upon the back of the great swan. In the life of Saint Ambrosein the Golden Legend. 1228/30-1298) a popular book during the Renaissance. lib." the young Pindar fell asleep in the mid-day heat. S. New York. These texts were copied by a Roman writer.. Then the child's father. cap. if he lives. XII. translatedby W.' 25 We have then a series of traditional tales. will surely be a man of great deeds. a swarm of bees descendedupon him. and the bees went into his mouth as into a hive. 25Jacobus de Voragine.The GoldenLegend. filling the whole worldwith amazementand filling all recordswith its fame and it will De Divinatione. 78. 269. Cicero adds: "While Plato was an infant asleep in his cradle. which resemblehis memory of the kite. 20. 21 . I. the place of speech and more particularly of the breath or spirit. xxxvi." In the next line.I. Loeb Library. IV.lib."21 His future eloquencewas foreseenin his infancy. tr. for instance.we read: "While he lay asleep in his crib.22 What is interestingin these examplesis not simply the foretelling of a child's future through a small animal. The same stories are told by a Greekwriter.. translatedby Falconer. H. they foretell a hero's future from an episode of his infancy-a small creature. exclaimed: 'This child. 45.
. Didron. often identified with the father. The psychoanalyst. Behold. folklore. both in its sublimated and actualized forms. in a literal sense. fig. the ancient Oriental monarchs. 144. has published a text which offers some resemblance to Leonardo's fantasy." In the Bible. Achamanes.154 MEYER SCHAPIRO 26 The bring eternal glory to the nest where it was born. The poet Henry Vaughan. God touches the prophet's mouth: "The Lord put forth his hand and touched my mouth. Sigurd.Die heilige Dreifaltigkeit (Disseldorf. The Trinity is often represented in the Middle Ages with the dove's tail in God's mouth. 1886).Das alte Testament im Lichte des alten Orients (2nd ed.2 These examples confirm the sense of Leonardo's fantasy as an omen of future achievement. And the Lord said to me. eating the flesh of a bird or other creature (snake. and prophecy. Prophecy is. Semiramis.28 Another possible connection of Leonardo's fantasy is with the image of the Holy Spirit. fig. wisdom. The Thumb of Knowledgein Legends of Finn. Leipzig. op. 1930). the mediating source of genius and greatness. 421 and note. Sigurd and Taliesin (New York. Scott. 9). Ernest Jones. II. and language. fig. cit. are nurslings of doves and eagles. 30Didron. II.420. 143. 26 MacCurdy. salmon) inspired poetry or gave wisdom and the gift of prophecy. 28 Robert D. (London. In Celtic and Scandinavian tradition. A frequent theme in those literatures is the acquisition of poetic or mantic power by putting the crushed or burnt thumb into the mouth (Finn. The bird in Semitic and Greek literature is the carrier of heavenly gifts. 37 (portable altar from Hildesheim).see Alfred Jeremias. and nourishment. but they lack the specific element of the bird's tail in the child's mouth. 412. as the region of speech. The mouth. in a letter of 1694. N. Inspiration is the introjection of a powerful external force. " divination. Psychoanalysis explains it by the dependence of all creativeness on sexuality." "great swan " (ciceri) is a pun on the name of the mountain. A.30 Leonardo's fantasy could be interpreted accordingly as an analogous identification with the father. and by the symbolic equivalence of flying and coitus in dream fantasy. is significant for poetic inspiration. ChristianIconography.29 In Leonardo's time occurs a variant based on the filioque of the Western doctrine of the procession of the Holy Spirit in which the wings of the descending bird reach from the lips of God the Father to those of Christ the Son. The theme occursin a relief by Verrocchio. breath. Leonardo's teacher. from which he hoped to launch the plane. Monte Ceceri. . butt 27For these and other examples. Dr. 1906). Thus the child brought up by birds is destined for power. told of " a young lad father and motherless. and soe very poor that he was forced to beg. but he has not connected the two documents. 411. Taliesin). An Excursus on the fantasy of the bird in the child's mouth The connection of the bird with genius or inspiration is very old. in the BargelloMuseumin Florence. 29 See WolfgangBraunfels. 1954). I have put my words into thy mouth " (Jeremiah I.
and came to be the most famous Bard in all the Countrey in his time. From Otho Vaenius. and in the discovery or awakeningof the poetic gift of a poor shepherdis like the story of the herdsmanCaedmon. 675. with a quiver full of Arrows att his back. 33 Cf. "The Madonna'sConceptionThroughthe Ear.1939). which (he dreamt) gott into his mouth and inwardparts. In which he dreamt. Amoris Divini Emblemata (Antwerp.that he saw a beautifull young man with a garlandof green leafs upon his head. Accordingto the neo-Platonist. Vaughan tells it a propos the vein of inspired rhapsodic poetry called Awen by the later Welsh bards. that kept a great stock of sheep upon the mountainsnot far from the place where I now dwell.32 Interestingfor Freud'saccount of Leonardois the fact that the boy is homeless and without parents. Vaughan'sWorks. 338. 48. Porphyry (233-c. reprintedin Essays in Applied Psychoanalysis(London.I think." Jahrbuch der Psychoanalyse. II. that he left the sheep and went about the Countrey. I. II." and his evidence from Egyptian and Christian folklore concerning the vulture is irrelevant. quoted by Mario Praz. who clothed him and sent him into the mountainsto keep his sheep.making songs upon all occasions. 304).edited by L. they do not account for the more specific features of the kite and the tail in the infant's mouth. the poem of Alonso de Ledesma. .33 All these parallels indicate the generalfield of ideas to which Leonardo's fantasy belongs.1914). 128. 339.El Nebli de Amor Divino: The hawk of divine love / Which has the soul for its prey / Feeds on hearts. The beautiful young man is evidently Apollo. lib. 1694. VI (1914). the god of poetry. 32De Abstinentiaab Esu Animalium. an author read in the Renaissance. 676.LEONARDO AND FREUD 155 att last was taken up by a rich man. There in summertime following the sheep and looking to their lambs. he fell into a deep sleep. 1923). The hawk entering his mouth and touching his inward parts suggestsnot only the Celtic legend of the poet eating a bird that gives inspiration. C. Here the context of the notes on flight supplies. Greek and Christian Renaissance elements. whose messengerto men is the hawk. The psychoanalyst will ask: Though Freud was mistaken in reading " vulture " for " kite. Martin (Oxford. does not the fantasy about a kite inserting its tail in the infant's mouth retain the homosexual meaning that Freud discerned and permit his inferences about Leonardo's childhood? 31See Ernest Jones. It is a tale about inspiration. Studies in 17th CenturyImagery (London. and is finally adopted. and suddenly awaked in a great fear and consternation:but possessedwith such a vein. letter of October9. the essential manifest meaning. or gift of poetrie. 1615). and an hawk upon his fist. coming towards him (whistling several measures or tunes all the way) and att last lett the hawk fly att him.eating the heart of a hawk is the ingestion of the divine spirit and will give power of prophecy.but also a Renaissancetheme: God as a hawk which feeds on the soul and the heart." 31 The story seems to combinepagan Celtic.
One can plausibly imagine. Antonio. it pecks their 34See Emil Moller. that from the beginning this young Italian mother was no outcast from her family. but not the specific relationships and events on which his account of Leonardo'spersonality and art depend. too." Jahrbuch der 60 (1939). 1919).his commentis still less favorableto Freud'sinterpretationof the childhoodmemory. That is why the vulture is so necessary to Freud and why the book is called: A ChildhoodReminiscenceof Leonardoda Vinci.156 MEYER SCHAPIRO The carefulreadingof Freud'sbook will show that he built upon the unique. In a collection of fables about the passions in his Notebooks. this.Freud could infer only that Leonardo had a fixation upon his mother.one called " Envy " concernsthe kite: " Of the kite we read that when it sees that its childrenare too fat.34 All these possibilities were ignoredby Freud because of his certitude about the vulture and its legend. "Der Geburtstag des Lionardo da Vinci. and that in the absenceof the child's father her brothersand her own father assumedin the child's feelings and thoughts the role of his father. .Documentie memorieriguardanti da Vinci (Milan. we can supposethat the birth of a halfsituation in his home and made brotherchangedthe little Leonardo's the return to his true father attractive. are constructed in part from the equivalenceof the vulture and the Virgin. If Caterina was already married when the boy was adoptedby his natural father. We can imagine. contraryto Freud. From his theory of the infantile origins of homosexuality. such details as the solitude and abandonmentof the mother and her passionate love of the child and even the circumstancesfavorableto Leonardo's fruitful sublimation to science.legendarycharacteristics of the vulture a positive account fill to the of Leonardo's infancy gaps in the documents. A recently discovereddocument indicates how far Freud was misled in his reconstruction. mostly neighborswhose presence at the ceremony strongly suggests that the child was born in the paternalhome and acceptedthere from the beginning. and where Leonardospeaks of it as a parent. the paternal grandfatherof Leonardo. Kunstsammlungen. 5.in recordingthe child's birth and baptism in the family diary. that he might have been brought up by a mother hostile to the illegitimate child whose existence disgraced her. preussischen la vita e le opere di Leonardo 35Luca Beltrami. 4. together with the theorems of infantile sexual developmentand of the origins of homosexuality in the fixation upon an over-affectionatemother (Leonardo's inversion was known through a document recording his arrest at twenty-four on a charge of sodomy35) compelled the inference that Freud presents in his book. 71-75. The kite is another story. has named ten godparents.
chap. it is because this aspect has not by Freud. Here he attacks one of the most elusive problemsin the psychology of artists: how a new conceptionis born. 36MacCurdy. has drawnfrom Freud'swork a corollaryabout the creation of a new form as well. 4. VIII. who recommends infants and children. 37Valerianus. accordingto a tradition (ignoredby Leonardo)is the best of all mothers. Hieroglyphica. but a later analyst." It is a lesson.37 Freud might have read the fable of Envy in the Notebooks. trivialities unworthyof so great a genius.40 III Freud'saccount of the painting of Saint Anne.1074.protecting her young for a hundred and twenty days and scratchingherself to give her blood to her young-an emblem of compassionlike the pelican which symbolizesChrist'ssacrifice. he wrote. animal fables. we shall see. 39In another fable.1062. Giraldus Cambrensis(Topography it as a model for the training of human of Ireland. he has imagined Leonardoreadinga churchfather and coming upon a referenceto the vulture as a prototype of the Virgin birth. 261. them come to mischief" (MacCurdy. cap."36 The kite here is not the model of the good mother who wishes to have her child her own forever. 2) raises questions of another order.Richter. VIII). recalledto the artist his own mother and infancy. this.the first to fly. accordingto Freud. lib. It is true that in Freud's explanation. 278). and his own great destiny as a man of science. The Ape and the Bird.let 40 GW. p.by the Welsh writer. jokes and prophecies. by not punishingtheir children. after Cassiodorus.LEONARDO AND FREUD 157 sides out of envy and keeps them without food. she is the opposite of the vulture which. the originality concernsa theme rather than the invention of a form. he could feel then his identity with the Christ child whom he had so often represented. the Virgin and the infant Christ (fig. 159. "for those who. II.39 If I have discussedat so great length what analysts call the manifest content of Leonardo'sfantasy. kissedit and " squeezedit until he killed uncontrollable it. 217. VIII. The harshnessof the hawk to its young is noted. XVIII.but even distortedin his only been insufficientlyconsidered reconstructionof the occasion and process of Leonardo'sconscious thought. A psychologist could infer from his interest in this bit of natural history that Leonardodid not forgive Caterinahis illegitimacy and her willingness to abandon him to a step-mother. Building upon the unfortunate vulture. Richter. 38GW.but was probably excerpted from an older collection. but the father of psychoanalysisdismissedthis part of Leonardo's writings as "allegorical natural history. 136. Leonardotells of an ape who in his affectionfor a fledglingbird."38 The fable of the kite is not an originalwork of Leonardo. .
He does not ask. It would be futile to creditto the peculiarityof a single mind what was already a commonpossessionof artists. Br.one of the hundredsof strikingsynchronisms of unconnectedevents with which history is filled. but we learn from 42Ibid. Bodmer.in writing on Leonardohe ignored the social and the historical where they are most pertinent to his task.158 MEYER SCHAPIRO The first requirementof such an attempt to account for a new image in art is that the investigator establish its priority. and to some extent on the neighboringcultural fields-the history of religion and social lifeto which belong certain of the elements representedin Renaissance pictures. Leonardo's gentlenessmust be interpretedas an exceptionaland thereforesignificant individual peculiarity. we are surprisedby what he takes to be generalconditionsof Renaissanceart. It is this side of Leonardo's In a sermonof 1539Martin Luthersaid: " All the fuss about Saint Anne began when I was a boy of fifteen.42But those features of the culture of the time which bear more directly on the painting of Saint Anne. in Luther'smemory. 1893). places it in 1500 in Florence. 204. the absenceof such themes from Leonardo'swork indicates to Freud the strength of his sexual repression. At this point the psychoanalystmust rely on the disciplineof the history of art.or as a fixationupon the mother and his own infantile stage.Leonardo. in his ethnologicalpapers. if their investigations have touched upon them. for example. 134. image. 1931). 135. . But although Freud. 44This is the opinionof Clark and Heydenreich. 1)-is generallyplaced in 1498 or 1499. Stuttgart and Berlin. to what extent a new image has been prepared by others or pertains to a common tendency of feeling and thought. before that she was unknown. and since all great artists paint some erotic pictures. and how far an artist has modifiedthe inherited matter in realizinghis personalconceptions. which fell in 1498. 408.but H. 136. Thus he supposes that since the men of the Renaissance were aggressive. 43Quoted by E. or how common was her workthat I shall considernow.. The historians of these fields will tell us."43 The cult of Anne dates then. the Virgin and Child-the cartoon in London (fig. Schaumkell. 12. was deeply aware of the collective patterns in culture and referredthem to some universal psychic process or mechanism. Now the first picture by Leonardo of Saint Anne. from his fifteenth year. Freud disregards. 41Ibid. what was thought of Saint Anne during that period. Wherehe does allude to them. and Leipzig.44 This may be regarded as a chance coincidence.des Meisters Gemalde und Zeichnungen(Klassiker der Kunst..41 Freud sees it as an abreactionagainst an early sadisticimpulse.Der Kultus der heiligen Anna am Ausgange des Mittelalters (Freiburgi.
cit. 1. 1930). see Dictionnaire de Theologie Catholique. which had a long past.47 The growthof the cult of Saint Anne was undoubtedlyconnected with the interest in the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception. all free from original sin. Some theologianstried to save the theory by distinguishingbetween the act of conception and the moment of endowment of the embryo with a soul.had opposedthat doctrinebecause it implied that Mary had no need to be redeemedby Christ.48 Just as the Virgin Mary had conceived Christ without sin. becamewidespreadand reachedits culminationin the years between 1485 and 1510. in fact. 48For this whole paragraph.LEONARDO AND FREUD 159 the historiansof the Churchthat the cult of Saint Anne. Often debated since the twelfth century.as well as lives and legends. 47Schaumkell. 46Jakob Wimpfeling.the way was open to a series of supernaturalconceptions of the ancestorsof the Virgin.Vincenzo Bandelli. Churchmen vaux and Thomas Aquinas. The ung in Geschichte. In 1475 a Milanese Dominican.though Christ came to save all mankind.. Popularbelief tended..op.VII. Ihre VerehrKunst und Volkstum(Disseldorf. so it was held that Mary was conceivedimmaculately by her mother Anne and had thereforenot inherited the sin of of great authority..like Bernardof ClairAdam and Eve. the Immaculate Conception became a central controversial issue in the later fifteenth. Numerouschapels and religiousbrotherhoods foundedin her name." new picturesand sculptures. Yrjo Him. 138.of Anne seem to have been producedin those decadesthan in the precedingor folwere lowing centuries. n.Die heilige Anna. The argument did not convince everyone and the controversycontinued until 1854 when the ImmaculateConceptionof Mary by Saint Anne became officiallya dogma of the Roman Catholic Church. a Study in the Poetry and Art of the Catholic Church (London. The GermanemperorMaximilianwas a member of a confraternityof Saint Anne and inscribed his standard to Anna Selbdritton one side and to the Virgin on the other. it was at that latter moment that by special graceMary was freed from originalsin. Sacred Shrine. 214-249.quoted by Kleinschmidt. cit. . when original sin was supposedly transmitted.op.although other factors were present. cit. 1120-1126. op. 160ff. 45Schaumkell. 1912).. to imagine Anne's conceptionof Mary as a miraculousevent without the intercourseor concupiscencewhich constituted original sin materialiter. making Anne a virgin in conceiving Mary-eius materin concipiendovirgofuisset. and Beda Kleinschmidt. objectedto the doctrineof the ImmaculateConceptionthat it assimilated Anne to Mary.45 During that twenty-five-yearperiod Anne was so fashionablea saint that a writer could say in 1506 that Anne 46 More was "overshadowingthe fame and glory of her daughter. 16.
which were pasted on doors and walls. . This little work. a former Franciscan. But it was not until 1481 that the feast of Anne (July 26) was made obligatory by Pope Sixtus IV. an object of the tender attentions of the two women. Sixtus issued bulls forbidding theologians to treat the doctrine of the ImmaculateConceptionas heretical. in 1476.000 years for venial ones. 1. and Schaumkell. but against the strongobjectionsof the Dominicanswho were powerfulin the Church. holding her up as a model of Christianwomanhoodand defendingher cult and the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception against the doubting Dominicans. cit. der Holz. 134. In 1494. 22. And in 1477 and 1483. Mary and the Child. 52PsychoanalyticExplorationsin Art (New York. 50 Ibid..as Freud has supposed. Tractatusde Laudibus SanctissimaeAnnae.160 MEYER SCHAPIRO For centuriesthe doctrinehad been supportedmainly by the Franciscanorder. they often show Mary sitting on the lap of Anne with the Christ Child on Mary's lap. III. 61 Schreiber. by a German abbot.1927). W. 163.000 years of punishment in purgatoryfor mortal sins and 20.52 Far from originating in the unique constellation of Leonardo'spersonality. That same year. nor was his cartoon or painting "almost the first" example as Ernst Kris has written. n. before an image of Anne. 1191. Jahrhunderts Handbuch L. the same pope had granted an indulgence for the recitation of an officeof the ImmaculateConception..und Metalschnittedes XV. 49Kleinschmidt. 1195. John Tritenheim (Trithemius). the famous Sistine Chapel. 19. Mary and the Christ Child-the so-called Anna Metterza or Anna Selbdritt-was relieved of 10. the theme of Anna Metterza was traditional and had acquireda new vogue throughout op. (Leipzig. shortly before Leonardodrew his cartoon of Saint Anne. The Carmelitesand Augustiniansthen took it over. A believer who recited that prayer. affirmingthe Immaculate Conception. the cult of Saint Anne. became more general. op.50 The prayer was often printed on single sheets with a woodcut of Anna. was printed in several editions and seems to have been widely read. Pope AlexanderVI issued an indulgencefor those who recited a prayer to Anne and Mary which was printed on the indulgenceticket. 1952). was dedicatedto the ImmaculatelyConceivedVirgin.61 This type of image was hardly an invention of Leonardo. no.. Images of the three holy persons were producedin great numbersthen. cit. her cult receiveda new stimulus from a book. written in praise of Anne.althoughthe other view was permitted. which had been restrictedto a few localities. His chapel in the Vatican. During that time.49 A few years before.
he imposed in the same decree the feast of another family saint. 56Ibid. was the widespread contemporary cult of Saint Anne and the new interest in the holy family. 1494). Mary and Christ were worshipped as a trinity. Anne was a model of fertility. Anne and Mary had been represented together as young saints long before Leonardo. cit. then.op.. 53 Op. Striegel). A modern student of her cult has pointed to the role of Anne as the protectorof pregnantwomen and the patron of the family during a time when families were extraordinarily large. In popular accounts of Anne's miracles. with as many as twenty children. in showing Anne and Mary as women of nearly equal age-a feature that Freud explained by the artist's unconscious memory of his childhood under the care of two mothers? Contrary to Freud's belief. the foster-father of Christ and husband of Mary. cap.55 According to the legend. Is not Leonardo's painting unique. 158 and figs. In a portrait of the Emperor Maximilian and his family. Anne's youthfulness in certain images may be explained by the theological idealization of Anne as the double of her daughter Mary and by a general tendency in the art of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance to picture female saints as beautiful."54 She is more generousthan Mary and grants to the faithful what her daughterrefuses.LEONARDO AND FREUD 161 Catholic Europe during his lifetime-a vogue which depended not only on theological doctrine. the founding of numerousconfraternitiesdevoted to Anne helped to unite the memberswho came from differentprofessionsand walks of he wrote. XI. cap. a " humanissima trinitas " more accessible than the " divinissima trinitas" of the Father. 94. even raisingthe dead. marrying three times. . She is often represented as Anna Trinuba et Tripara. When the Pope Sixtus IV made the feast of Anne obligatory.56 Behind Leonardo's picture.53 " ThroughAnne'spatronage. cit. XV.to strengthenthe family and to promote a more intimate spirituallife throughthe cult of this maternalsaint. in the Legends and exempla around 1500. (Mainz.. however." ills of the tottering world."op. 164ff. Joseph. " we can escapeall the life. virginal figures. 54 Per cuius patrociniumomnis mundi labentis mala securi possumusevadere. Anne. Son and Holy Ghost. A chapter of Trithemius'book is devoted to explainingand justifying the expansion of the cult of Saint Anne. as we shall soon see. it was necessary. 95 (by B. she performsmiracles.. The originality of his conception lies elsewhere. when faith was in decline and society disintegrating. In the critical state of contemporary Christendom. each figure was inscribed with a name from the family of Anne.he believed. but on more earthly needs. surrounded by the offspring of her three marriages. when the Western nations had been defeated by the Turkish fleets. cit. 55Kleinschmidt.
60 Anne had been cursedby sterility and was childless after twenty years of marriage. .to be Mary's mother.XXXVI.59 In this strange medley of pagan and Jewish legend. 73.. which were the necessary source of the qualities of Mary. translatedby M..lines 435ff. the simple people-naive. In an old French poem she was said to have issued from her father Phanuel's thigh. 39. Him. remaineduntouchedby originalsin.that it often happens. Nature. at September8. the World. The legend. cit.the gospel of the pseudoMatthew and the gospel of the Birth of Mary. the Church. are picturedin visionary and poetic writingsas old women who are rejuvenatedand beautiful. She had been chosen by God. By the thirteenth century. just as Mary..61 goes on to relate how an angel appeared to Joachim and told 57Schaumkell. 11ff. 46. such were the miraculousbirths of Isaac and Joseph and Samson from old and barrenmothers. 79. that he has done it in orderto open it afterwardsmiraculously. Anne is born like Dionysus from a divine thigh (" Phanuel" comes from the Hebrewfor " the face of God "). James (Oxford.58 In the projection of the theological pattern of the Virgin upon Saint Anne. Ideal female figures. 61For the older sourcesin the proto-evangile of James. In the accountof Mary'sbirth in the GoldenLegendby Jacobusde Voragine. New York. already before the creation of the world. unconstrainedby theology and science-had come to believe that Anne.Philosophyand even Old Age). too. Trithemiusdescribedwith feeling the perfectmaternaltendernessand grace of Anne. 56.Le Romanz de Saint Fanuel et de Sainte Anne (Paris. see The ApocryphalNew Testament. Chabaneau. 231ff. unintellectualworshippers. especially personifications (Rome. 60Op. cit. an angel tells Anne's husband. 1889). op.too. but is connectedindirectly with the apple that occasionedoriginal sin-Phanuel cut the apple from the tree of knowledgewithout eating it..Joachim. 101-105. Her own birth became a subject of extraordinaryfantasy in the Middle Ages. conceived miraculouslythrough the Holy Ghost.op.162 MEYER SCHAPIRO she appears to the faithful as a "beautiful" or "pretty" woman (" wunderbarlich gezieret hipsch und schone "). R.. that in Roman and in mediaeval Christianliterature. her husband'sofferingwas rejected in the temple because he had no offspring.the type of the old-young woman is not at all uncommon. 1953).EuropeanLiteratureand the Latin Middle Ages (Bollingen Series.so that it may be known that the child to be born is not an issue of lust. 58 Ernst Robert Curtius. the latter acquired her daughter's virtues and powers. thus causingit to conceive. which he touchedwith a knife after cutting an apple.57 It should be observed. cit. when God has closed a womb. born of a mother who was not virgin. which is based on very old apocryphalwritings.1926). 59C.
Klassiker der Kunst (Stuttgart. cit.Lukas Cranach (Leip- .... 217ff. In the paintings of this scene. 195. This is the basis of Leonardo'spicture. correspondingto the order of authority in the family. Heydenreich. accordingto popularbelief. was conceived the child that the angel had promised. Anne is the tallest and dominates the group. H. the child is placed on Anne's other knee or Anne holds Christ and Mary separately in each arm. and at that instant. which employed representationas a means of symbolizingreligiousideas and could expressby this groupingof three figurestheir essential characteras a mystic family line. 274. In a third variant. pl.65 62Him. cit. in some respects younger than Mary's.Leipzig. here the family trinity forms a great pyramid.LEONARDO AND FREUD 163 him to meet Anne at the Golden Gate." Gazette des Beaux-Arts (1933). cit. the best known exampleis Masaccio'sfresco in Santa Maria Novella in Florence (c.op. Commonto all the types was the hieratic note in the scale and rigidity of the figures. Diirer representsAnne and Mary as equally tall. an angel above the couple recalls the Annunciationto Mary and the Incarnationof Christ. standing figuresfondling the child in their arms. The relative ages and the order of generations.and L.63 In the late fifteenth century. are symbolizedby the varying size and level of the figures.see Curt Glaser. often in affectionate embrace.Kupferstiche und Holzschnitte. 63 For the types of Anna Metterza. alreadywell establishedin the middle or third quarter of the fourteenth century. Mary sits on her mother's knee and plays with the child on her own lap. with numerous illustrations. 65Kleinschmidt. they kissed on meeting. 108. In an engravingmade before 1500.op.62 In Leonardo'stime there were three common types of images of Anna Metterza. see Kleinschmidt.we observea new tendency to loosen the form and to envisionthis family groupin a morehuman and natural way: Anne and Mary are of the same height and both play with the child. The odd conceptionof a mature woman sitting like a child on another'sknee was not at all disturbingor unnatural to mediaeval minds. for the youthful Anne and Mary repeated on the wings of the same altarpiece. des Meisters Gemdlde. 1425). The Meeting of Joachimand Anne illustratesthe Immaculate Conception. holding the child in her lap. fig.64 In Cranach'saltarpiecefrom Torgau. Of one."La Sainte Anne de Leonardde Vinci. in the FrankfurtMuseum. 64Diirer. where an angel had bidden Anne to go. 238. Here Anne has a young face. 1908). with an old Anne enthroned above and Mary at her feet.. In the second type. completedin 1509-perhaps before Leonardo'spainting in the Louvre-Anne and Mary sit on the same bench both playing with the child. op. 205ff. austere and powerful.
just as they had appearedto him in his childhood. 66Kleinschmidt. fig. 2). Cambridge. in which Mary is to Anne as Christto Mary. 221. If he ventures to draw the heads of Anne and Mary on the same level in the Londoncartoon (fig. their common humanity.. 65). Carpaccio's Ghirlandaio's ing at the Golden Gate (ibid. human form in the art of the High Renaissance. in Copenhagen (K. pl. 1). etc.. This interpretationrests on a general schema that Freud had devised some years before to describethe processof poetic creation: an actual experience revives an old memory which is then elaboratedas a wish fulfillment in artistic form. 230. In Freud's reconstructionof the inner history of the Saint Anne meeting with Mona Lisa that reawakened painting. VII.. Leonardoovercomesalso the static symmetry in the older relationshipsof child and mother. In a work painted in 1367 by the Sienese Luca di Tome.preservesthe old iconic type of Anna Metterza. 1921). Yet Leonardo. 12). fig.with Anne's head above Mary's. 146 for a 13th century German sculpturewith youthful Anne and Mary.with the child standing between them. 110). The new equality of the women.." GW.as the natural result of a spontaneousmovement of the Virgin who bends forwardin playing with the child.. Meeting of Joachim and Anna (1497). Cf.1952]. 114). while removing all supernaturalattributeslike the haloes and humanizingthe figures more completely.however. 154). Filippino Lippi. 67 See his article of 1908. 1938.op. it was Leonardo's and inspiredhim to pictureAnne of Caterina his unconscious memory and Mary as his two mothers. .the most advancedartist of his age. For other examplesof the youthful Anne. 217. 247).Mass. Filippino Lippi. 67.67 In applying this zig.with its artificialsymbolicstructure. By 1500. fig. Meetfrescoof the Marriageof the Virgin (ibid. this differenceof level is made to appear.164 MEYER SCHAPIRO But the two women had alreadybeen representedalike in Italian art over a hundredyears before.op. 66. cit. a Bohemian painting of the late 14th century in Breslau (Kleinschmidt. also fig. fig.. In the final painting in the Louvre (fig. Iconography of the Saints in TuscanArt [Florence.66 The whole is still subject to the hierarchical conceptionof the Middle Ages in the distinctionsof size and level. cit. already occurs in Italy in the 14th century-see the altarpiecein the Boston Museumby Barna da Siena (GeorgeKaftal. a painting by Lochnerin Breslau (ibid. 147. Neilson.fig. the Virgin holding the child sits on the knee of Anne who is simply an enlarged replica of her daughter. B.in accordwith the searchfor a natural.though idealized. is thus reconciled with their inequality as mother and daughter. he returnsin later versions to the old conception. By placing the child on the ground to the side. "Der Dichter und das Phantasieren. cf. fig. a commonscale applies to everyone.at a time when Northernart separates the two figuresand placesthe child betweenthem in a naturalfamilial relationship. The type of Anne and Mary sitting on a broad throne.
pl. 179. 1498-1499. 186. those from Aegina. Anny E. Leonardo's vacillation between the young and the old Anne recalls the uncertaintyof the doctrineof the ImmaculateConception duringthis time. 71E. but several such pieces by Verrocchioand his shop survive.. A.g. The dates of these drawingsare still debatedbut. Leonardo's training as a sculptorin Verrocchio's shop. 9) places it c. Clark. n. 1928]. Freud has forgotten the early date of the London cartoon. Clark dates it c. triumphant also.the doctrine won a momentarytoleranceby the papacy. GW. with smiling face and delicate modeling aroundthe lips and chin.71The face of Saint Anne in the Louvre reminds us of his master's bronze David. and thus precedesby severalyears the portraitof Mona Lisa. it is possible that Vasarihad these in mind when he wrote of the beginnings of Leonardo'sart. n." They will not only think of Verrocchio'ssmiling faces. too. Leonardoda Vinci. the BargelloMuseumrelief of the Virgin and Child. for Leonardo'sprocess is the fact that in the preparatory sketcheshe drewfor differentprojectsof a painting of Anna Metterza. that Leonardowas brought to this master as a child by his father who was a friend of the artist and that the young student collaborated with his teacherand repeatedcertainof Verrocchio's themes. He was aware of the weaknessof his reasoningon this point and remarkedin a note that "connoisseurs of art will think of the peculiar rigid smile of archaicGreek statues.. Popp (Leonardo-Zeichnungen The Drawingsof Leonardoda Vinci (New York. VIII. pl. him to the new possibilitiesof refined. where nicety of modelingwas in honor.LEONARDO AND FREUD 165 schema to the Saint Anne. Significant. in opposition to certain writers. they will remember. [Munich. Among Verrocchio'sworks are several the later pictures smilingfaces of a subtlety of expressionapproaching of Leonardo.elusive play perhapssuggested 68 69K.69 post-dates the London cartoon.. 174 B. and will also perhaps discoversomething similar in the figuresof Leonardo'steacher.and will thereforenot be inclined to follow my deductions. cit. Ver70 rocchio. The plaster sculptures of smiling women and of children which Vasari mentions among Leonardo'sfirst works have disappeared.too.g. pl. e. 1945).68 the cartoon was done just before 1500 in Milan. the type of Saint Anne is not fixed. 1501. . 70 Op. and an angel on the tomb of Forteguerri(1474) in the cathedralof Pistoia. The smiles of the women. are not so clear an evidence as Freud assumedof the painter'sfixation upon his mother. 1. which owe their charm to the infinite delicacy of Leonardo'sart. E. As he himself correctly maintained. Supportedand opposedby various groups. accordingto excellentjudges. Popham. 1508-1510. 1. only to lose it in the followingyears.a drawingof his in the Louvre which shows Anne as an old woman. 51.
its singularqualities which depend on the artist's style in a broadersense and on his maturedperceptionof the human face. searchingfor a more natural form.485. It would be a question then not simply of the smile as an element occasionedby a memory or experience.by light and shadow and other devices. By the indefinitenessand subtlety of the modelledforms. untouched by his concepts.but of the expressive nuancewhichit owes to the pervasivetendencyof the artist in treating all his feminine and youthful themes. several decades before Leonardo. may be referredto Leonardo's character. An artist's impressions. It may be. too. to assume Verrocchio'sindebtedness to the younger artist for the motif of the smile."Leonardo as Verrocchio'sCo-worker.it has been conjecturedthat the older man was influenced by his more gifted pupil in the 1470s. . XII (1930). far-reaching changes before they could be embodiedin a work of art. 43-89. R.make it difficult to accept Freud's explanation of this widespreadconventional motif in Leonardo'sart by the peculiarity of his childhood. representedthe smile as a fixed attribute of the face-a generalizedfirst expressionof the subjective and physiognomic (as the advancedleg in both Egyptian and archaicGreekstatues was a generalizedexpressionof the body's mobility) 73-but also the recurrenceof the smile in Florentine art in the works of Donatello and Desiderio da Settignano. yet in writing of the smile. Since the young Leonardowas already a memberof the artist's guild while employed by Verrocchioand had collaboratedwith his master on important commissions.and especially those of his childhood. This complexquality of the whole may well depend on structures of Leonardo'scharacterdisclosedby Freud. 486. Valentiner.he thought. however. 1931.must undergo."Art Bulletin. 73 I have proposedthis explanation of the " archaicsmile " in Art Bulletin. In Freud'sbook the original elements of the work of art are simply representationsof childhood memories and wishes. that the artist adopted and developed the existing theme of the smile with a special ardorbecause of the fixation upon his mother. Not only the fact that the early Greek sculptors.166 MEYER SCHAPIRO of light and shadow in the painting of his faces.72 There is no reason. Only his personalrenderingof the inherited smile. the style itself belongs to another-perhaps biological-domain of the individual. Freud does not hesitate to infer an exact accordof the painting 72See W. But Freud's theory provides no bridge from the infantile experience and the mechanismsof psychic development to the style of Leonardo'sart. he opens the way for the observer'srevery. He endows them with a mysterious passage of light and dark that he has describedin his notes as the graceand softness of faces at dusk and in bad weather.XIII.
cit. the same smile conveys a secret of love. 186." and disquietingcharacter. cit.Freud describesas ambiguous. however. But these have been ignored by Freud." for his mother'sexcessive tendernesswas fatal to him. as La Gioconda's. The smile of Mona Lisa. Saint Anne was John's great-aunt. plate 66.76 If Freud was mistaken in supposing that Leonardoinvented the pictorial type of Anna Metterza. 184.. His baptistery was the building to which the city was most attached and on which were spent the greatestresourcesof its art. there are.. R. was regardedas miraculousand somehowexempt from original sin-a parallel to Anne's conception of Mary78-his both the familial and presencein the image of Anna Metterza affirmed supernaturalsense of the theme. 189. Exceptional in the images of the subject is the presenceof Saint John the Baptist as the friend of the infant Christ (fig.. Like Anne a patron saint of Florence.79 74 Op. op. the consciousnessof unavowablepleasures. his mother'ssmile in the picture of Saint Anne. truly original features in the painting. Her finger pointing upward. 7 Cf. 239.7 The two children. John enjoyed a privileged place in Florentine art. 79 Clark. which Freud sees as " the has lost the "enigmatic same. in Burlington Magazine... cit. without question. Leonardoremainedfaithful to the deeper content of his first memories. Elizabeth. as if Anne were the mother of John. a duality of the reserved and sensual. 75 Ibid. 76 Ibid. It is an apocryphalmotif that Leonardohad already used in the painting of the Virgin of the Rocks. or that the smiling."74 Yet in rendering in Mona Lisa's face the double sense of her smile. and expressesonly intimacy and a tranquil felicity. .who were cousins. In the London cartoonthe pairing of the figures effects a correspondence of old and young."75 Finally.LEONARDO AND FREUD 167 and the infantile impression underneath all the modalities of the smile in differentpictures. with Mary sitting on her mother's knee and holding the Christ child.is also a traditionalgestureof the Baptist proclaimingthe greaterone who is to come. had often appearedtogether in Florentineart of an earliergenerationand were to become a favored theme of Raphael. 218. XC (1948). 1). youthful Anne was an idea of Leonardo'sarising from an unconsciousearly memory revived by the meeting with Mona Lisa.. and since his birth from an aged and barren mother. in his later pictures of the androgynousSaint John and Bacchus.. it is repeatedby Leonardoin a later image of Saint John. op. 78 Him. 215. Eisler. which attracts Leonardobecauseit recallshis mother. perhaps to indicate the divine origin of Christ. the tender and menacing. although they have psychologicalinterest and perhapsrequire for their explanationthe use of Freud'sconcepts.
Leonardo und sein Kreis (Munich.so that critics." After having done the cartoon. the result of the painter'sdesire to repair a defect of form in the Londoncartoon.168 MEYER SCHAPIRO In the course of work on the Saint Anne. this cartoon attracted crowdsof admiringvisitors for two days. cit. Freud sees the changeas an artistic necessity.a house of the Servitesa religiousorderrelatedto the Franciscans andlike them devotedto the doctrineof the ImmaculateConception.. Even in the final picture in the Louvre. could say that 'both heads seem to growfrom a single trunk'. W. 1. a cartoonwhich is known only through a description and a painted copy by Brescianino." 80 It is remarkablethat Freud.beside some drawingsthat have survived. is justified for the analyst by referenceto its hidden sense. there was no room then for the little John.Leonardo"felt the need to overcome this dream-likefusion of the two women which corresponded to his childhoodmemoryand to separatethe two heads from each other. But what seems a fault of composition from the critic's point of view. who had asked him 80 81 Op. To motivate this shift. the two women " are fused with one anotherlike badly condensedfigures in a dream. The two mothers of his childhoodhad to fuse for the artist into a single figure. but he produced.far removedfrom any concernwith interpretation. the infant Christ had to be moved from his mother's lap to the ground.. 131.which is the main sourceof our knowledgeof the cartoon.should explain these strikingchangesin the family image as purely aesthetic decisions. 1929). This we know from their commentson another picture of the maternal group in which the changes in question were alreadylargelyachieved. n. Leonardoseems not to have carriedout the painting. 2). Pietro da Novellara. This he accomplished by detachingMary'shead and upperbody from her mother and by having her bend forward. Suida.it is sometimesdifficultto say whereAnne ends and Mary begins . To Leonardo'scontemporaries. who was replaced by the lamb. who is so attentive to details of expressionas significantmarks of the personality..is part of a letter by a vice-generalof the Carmelite order. Leonardoundertookin 1501 an Anna Metterza for the altarpieceof the churchof the Annunciationin Florence." In the Londoncartoon. . fig. " the two maternalfigures are even more intimately fused. Leonardoreplaced the figureof John by a lamb (fig.the new version appeared as a distinct religiousconception. The description.81When exhibited unfinishedto the Florentinepublic. addressedto Isabella d'Este. Between the London cartoon and the painting in the Louvre. 186.. their outlines are still more uncertain.
op. I do not know of an earlierexample of the Anna Metterza with this complex interplay of the figuresor with the motif of the child and the lamb. 108. a stable symmetry rules all the postures and movements. was unlikely to satisfy her request. a picture by Leonardo. who might be their respectivemothers. cit. has for us today a more purely human aspect. The lamb is a symbol of Christ. and Clark. VII (1924). for the text and translation. .84 In substituting a lamb for John.the copy and a drawingfor the head of Saint Anne (Popham. while in Florence. on whoselap the Virginsits. 99.as the Carmeliteexplained. the 82For this letter. replacesAnne. In the first cartoon (fig. 84 In Raphael's adaptation of the Servite cartoon in his painting of the Holy Family (1505) in the Prado Museum. In mounting and hugging the lamb.. cit. 83Amongother changes. looks on in smiling approval. but it is also the symbol of John who foretells the coming of Christ.see Shapley. half-rising from Saint Anne's lap. 1). bending far forwardin the effort to hold him. but he went on to describea work of Leonardo's that he had just seen: " a marvellouscartoonof the Christchild about a year old who. What strikes us is not only the substitution of the lamb for John. Anne. We cannot help but see it as an image with deeper psychological meanings. " A Lost Cartoon for Leonardo'sMadonna with Saint Anne. The mother."Art Bulletin. The picture is a " sacredconversation" in an atmosphereof perfect harmony. op." 82 What the Carmelite(and no doubt otherreligiousobservers)interpreted as a theological idea. the sacrificialhost and redeemer. a slow and unwilling artist.. rising slightly from her seat. as if about to slip out of his mother's arm.op. In the lost Servite cartoon and in the Louvre painting which is built upon it. the two childrenare in a friendlyrapportand correspond to the two women.to judge by the description. He replied that Leonardo. 98. see John Shapley. she restrains him. is taking the child to draw it from the lamb-that sacrificial animal which signifiesthe passion of Christis a lamb which has taken on the sins of the world-while Saint Anne. plate 183). but the resulting tension between the figures. Leonardohas brought an ambiguity into both the theological and human meanings of the scene.83the lamb resists the Christ child who mounts it and hugs its sides with both legs. cit.LEONARDO AND FREUD 169 to obtain for her.. and Joseph. seems as if she would hold back her daughter so that she would not separate the child from the lamb. grasps a lamb and seems to hold it fast. this would perhaps signify that the Churchdid not want to prevent the passion of Christ since mankind'sfate dependedupon it.the Virgin helps the child to sit on the lamb.the painting reversesthe positionsof the figuresin the cartoon. There is also a contemporarypoem by GirolamoCasio to the same effect. The child looks back to his mother. 100. at the side.
SandroBotticelli (Paris. 19.Kris assumesa new creative form. 8 Ibid.88 IV A disciple of Freud. PsychoanalyticExplorationsin Art (New York. By similar devices Leonardocreated in several of his paintings compositions which exercised considerable influenceon the developmentof the art of his time. one may ask whether in this image of the fatherless Holy Family. XCI and p. cit.170 MEYER SCHAPIRO child expresseshis "passion " both as the accepted self-sacrificeand as the love of the creaturethat stands for his cousin John. clad in what appearsto be a sheepskin-Jacques Mesnil.8 It is evident that the elements which make up the originalfeaturesof the Saint Anne in the Louvre-particularly the child with the lamb-had occupiedLeonardo'sthought for many years beforethe meeting with Mona Lisa and some of them independently of the theme of Saint Anne. has tried to complete Freud'sinterpretationby discerningin the hidden emotional grounds of the image the sources of the artistic invention as well. probably earlier than the Servite cartoon. 22. pl.holds the nude Christ child who bends far over to embracethe little standing John. The history of the formationof the Saint Anne is more complex. Where Freud saw a defect of composition.. In a sketch in Venice. Dr.with head inclined. pl. "Unity between the three figures was established not only by gestures. pl. the lamb is drawn at the feet of Anne and Mary who holds the child in her lap-he plays with the lamb's mouth or jaw. pl. He is himself aware of the great difficultiesin relating "form and content" 85Popham..85 The lamb's position is like that of the unicornat the feet of a seated young womanin a much older drawing by Leonardo-a mediaevalsymbol of chastity. 88Interestingfor the Louvre picture is a painting from Botticelli's workshopin the Pitti Palace in Florence: the standingVirgin. 161."89 It is not clear whether Dr. Ernst Kris. and though it may reenforcesome of Freud'sideas. 1952). 174A. 1938).. 27 (BritishMuseum). 89Kris.86 On the back of this drawingare several sketches for a compositionof the Madonnawith the child hugginga cat. they seem to mergeinto each other since they are inscribedinto a pyramidal configuration. Here. Kris is summarizingFreud or drawingfrom the latter a new consequencefor the explanationof Leonardo's style. 86Ibid.op. who brings to psychoanalysis a training and experienceas an historianof art. following Freud's analysis of Leonardo'spersonality. Leonardo does not project (and conceal) a narcissisticand homosexual wish in replacingthe figureof Christ'splaymate John-an ascetic and the victim of an incestuous woman-by the lamb which stands for both John and himself. 11. . it does not support altogetherhis view of the genesisof the image.
and the infinitely extended landscape backgroundas a lyrical revelation of mood in counterpointto the figures. whether of the figure itself or the neighboring bodies. as in Masaccio'sgreat painting.LEONARDO AND FREUD 171 througha theory of their commonpsychologicalroots. Comparedwith the old types. a new fullness and subtlety of modelling. every movement is counterposedto contrasting movements. But what seems here to be an advancein the psychoanalyticstudy of art-which has until now paid little attention to style-is a lapse in historicaland aesthetic understanding. In these versions all the figuresare submittedmore or less to the axis of the pyramid. later carriedfurther by Michelangeloand Raphael. for Leonardo. since the fourteenth century. Anne. and each person respondsactively depth. turns away from Anne. In older art. lies rather in the fact that within the conventionalpyramid of three or four figures. what is distinctive in his formal composition lies elsewhere and is the result of a developmentin the courseof his life ratherthan the outcome of work on a single theme like the Saint Anne.like an . at the same time constraining the little beast.besides. they form a static symmetricalwhole. her lower body directed to the left.moves away from her to play with the lamb.the body is a self-adjusting system.a palpableatmosphere.) In the Louvrepainting. Compositionhere means something imaginative and ideal. the novelty of Leonardo's form. In this overlappingand interlockingof bodies. he contributed. the child. It was Leonardowho first developedthe exemplaryforms of such dynamically balanced composition.a mysterious light and shadow which point to later art. looking up at his mother. with an easy flow and cohesionof forms. a family. (This is not the sum of Leonardo'sgreat originality as a painter.or each has a dominantplane distinct from that of the neighboringfigure. a single limb may be moved without affecting the rest of the body.The pyramidalform as such is no invention of Leonardo's. The older Italian images of Anna Metterza show. and he is sceptical of the vulture discoveredin Mary's robe.each has a complexasymmetryof contrastedforms in S. Mary pulls the child back to her and in doing so. in which the movement of any part entails the response of all the others. often in a foreshortened to another. all face the observer. one of those fundamentalstructuresor modes of groupingthat mark an epoch and become canonical. but together they form a compact unit of a higher order. with the progressionfrom the most stable figure of Anne to the most active and divided figure of Christ through Mary's mediating posture. looks back to the child at the lower right. a compactpyramidalgrouping. From this comesthe charmof a unity which compriseswithin a stable enclosing form so much play and lability of the parts.
the symmetricaltable and architecturein a converging perspective rhythm-with the extraordinarilyvaried movements of the enclosedfiguresarousedby the central force. It is a workthat combinesa highly concentrated form-the central Christ. In the Louvre painting. nor is it fully realizedin the other drawingsof this subject. the connectionwill be found. in the first case they form a classicalcanon in which 0For an excellent account of Leonardo as a composer.90 Its stages can be followed in Leonardo'ssuccessive works. If one wishes to relate the new form to the psychologicalcontent Saint Anne. Wolfflin. 1924). But it appears with great force in a work which has nothing to do with the maternal theme. In this composition. it is not yet clearly developed in the first cartoonof Saint Anne.. He does not possessit from the beginningof his career. This distinction of characteris a Renaissanceachievement. I think. in each groupwe see differentreactions and inter-relationsof three figures who are confrontedby the same unspokenquestion posed by the disturbingwords of Christ: One of you shall betrayme. the varied directions and levels of the heads within a group of three figures. yet clearly a memberof a group of three with its own unity of contrasted reactions.but rather in the opposite process of giving to the traditional closed group of child and parents an articulation of contrasts which could render the spontaneity and conflictingimpulses of the individuals while retaining the family attachment. In the London cartoon. Munich. It is not only a new approachto the theme of the Last Supper-in spirit more dramaticthan liturgical or theological-but a far-reachingconception of collectivebehaviorin which the individual is revealed. each figure subject to his distinct emotion expressedin gesture and pose. not so much the of in the process of fusing into a stable pyramid the two mothers who haunted Leonardo's memorysince childhood. the Last Supper. . Leonardo's study of the groupingof the apostles was a preparation for the Saint Anne. 20-43.see H. Whether smoothly harmonizedor left in an unresolved state of tortuous involvement. the overlapping of the bodies. It is rudimentary in the Virginof the Rocks painted in 1483.172 MEYER SCHAPIRO architecturalorderor poetic form. the twelve apostles are broken up into four groupsof three. Eine Einfiihrungin die italienischeRenaissance(7th ed.painted in Milan in 1495 to 1497.dominated by the central figure of Christ. these opposed movements within the idealized individual are a characteristicof High and Late Renaissanceart.Die klassischeKunst. the gesture of Anne pointing upwardis like the gesture of the first apostle at Christ'sleft in the Last Supper (althoughthe meaningis different). recall the three apostles at Christ'sright hand.
with the sharp contrast of their profile and frontal forms. the result of an effort that deforms and depresses the individual. 407. he conceived his more iconic compositions around a dominant. Another side of Leonardo. though confined. V In a general article that Freud wrote not long after his study of Leonardo. and the Last Supper-and therefore found in the Saint Anne. For the townhall of Florence. isolated. There we see him as an artist with a singular vision of force. by Leonardo's commitment to the traditional mediaeval type of Anna Metterza. distinctness and movement. There remains an aspect of the rigid and artificial in the group. perhaps. .LEONARDO AND FREUD 173 the body is stable. We have the impression in reading Freud that Leonardo's fantasy as a painter was bounded by soft images of women and children and effeminate youths. The Adoration of the Magi is mentioned as an example of his neurotic difficulty in finishing a picture. however. The content of these great pictures is nowhere taken into account. where the classical form appears strained or affected. and the Last Supper as a painting executed with a characteristic slowness and destined to ruin by his experimentation with technique. who is an increasingly introverted or tragic figure. It is this discrepancy between the inherited type and the mature goals of Leonardo's art that accounts in part for the suggestion of later Mannerist art in the Saint Anne. It may be explained. In spite of Leonardo's refinement of drawing and search for graceful forms. an especially refractory theme. mainly pictures that represent women. and relaxed. the Virgin of the Rocks. In interpreting Leonardo's art. VIII. though active." GW. I do not believe that the new classical ideal is perfectly realized in the Saint Anne. central figure-as in the Adoration of the Magi. most evident in the abrupt pairing of Anne and Mary. speaking of the significance of his researches for various fields. He could not adopt the solution of Northern artists who placed the two women side by side. Throughout his life. a Florentine victory over the 91" Das Interesse an der Psychoanalyse (1913). they anticipate the Mannerist style of the mid-sixteenth century. in conflict with his own tendency towards variation. evident in his virile images of men." 91 It is obvious that for this purpose all the available works of an artist must be considered. in the other case. with its two mothers of equal weight. Freud examines. with a little Christ between them. is ignored. Leonardo painted in 1504-1505 a mural picture of the Battle of Anghiari. he remarked that " the intimate personality of the artist which lies hidden behind his work can be divined from this work with more or less accuracy.
16. 62-65.95 In his old age. pl.to his early apprenticeshipto Verrocchio. In the end Verrocchiodid both. It was a work carriedout stubbornly. cit. cit.174 MEYER SCHAPIRO Pisans. 134.humble and passive. 13. cit..this master was sculptor.) The backgroundof the early. 95Popham.op. athletic figuresof proudyoung men-a beautiful contrast to the venerable types in the foreground. pl.Leonardowas passionatelyinterested in the horse.he had to fight the decision of the Venetians that he should make only the horse and another artist. Vasari noted before the originalthat " rage. Leonardo'sversatility as artist and technician owes much.op. unfinished painting of the Adorationof the Magi contains wonderfulrearinghorses. 204. Twice in Milan Leonardoundertook to carry out gigantic equestrian monuments in bronze.92 Before the most importantcopy.. done by Rubens. The emulation of his teacher appears above all in Leonardo'stragic attempts to producean equestrianstatue in bronze.94 Important for this side of his art was the association with Verrocchio which I have mentioned before. Only some drawingshave survived. and at home in other crafts as well. the worldcomingto an end with enormousturbulenceworksof an impassioned. despairingLear invoking the elements of the storm.. pl. hatred and revenge are no less visible in the men than in the horses. 97 Op. 135.op. cit. which has come down to us only in descriptions. 91-102. Only a part of the workis preservedin Rubens'copy-a strugglebetweenopposedhorsemen. and Popham. 30-37. pl. Freud has in fact remarkedin Leonardothe traces of a converted sadisticimpulse. 92 . a mountain falling upon a village. Verrocchiohad createdin the 1480sa grandiosebronzehorseman.painter.. op. 44.. it has been surmised. 94Ibid. pl.97 He refersto his known vegetarianismand Vasari's Popham. 191-201. pl.one of Prince Trivulzio and the other of Duke Francesco Sforza. pl. architect and engineer.the famousColleoni in Venice. adoringthe infant Christ. few Renaissance artists have representedthe terrible fury of hand-to-hand combat as vividly as Leonardo. goldsmith. cit. 93 Clark. Clark. he seems like the old. overwhelmingforces unleashed upon mankind. Leonardoproducedfurious drawingsof cataclysms.. 292-296. cit. op.. but from these we can judge Leonardo's passionatefeeling for the heroic.destructiveimagination.employinga knowledge of science to express a titanic revulsion against humanity. his ferociouspower in renastonishedby Leonardo's dering the impact of savagely fighting figures. a reconciliation of the strong and the sweet. the man. ridden and constrainedby pagan. 96Ibid.96 Drawing them. (For the Duke of Milan he made a silver lyre in the form of a horse's head.93 love of violence..sketches and we are copies." From the beginningof his career. 14.
compoundedof the forms of insects and reptiles. 190. One may note too that on a sheet covered with scientific observations about the atmosphereand body surfaces.op. La Faune et le Flore (Paris. 100 Clark. the deformedand caricatural in the human face than by his vegetarianismand his release of captive birds.61 and note 1. Lomazzo.ed. 68. 41. pl.. The aggressivefeelings of Leonardoare better illustrated by the unconstrainedfantasies of violence in both his writings and pictures and by his misanthropictaste for the ugly. Documenti. 1906). 21). cit.a 16th century theoreticianand critic of art. A more completepsychoanalyticstudy of Leonardowould have to take into account two other pictures ignored by Freud. sustained by philosophicalconviction. 373. 101Op. and secretly designedto terrify his father. III.. He might have readin Porphyry'streatise De Abstinentia ab Esu Animalium (IV.buying caged birds in orderto release them. 372. cit. 16) that the wisest of the Persian magi abstained from meat. 136. of Leonardo's" composizioni . But is Leonardo'skindnessto animalsso surely a sign of repressedsadistic feeling? The story of his freeing caged birds may be explained differently. the release of a captive bird is believed to bringgood luck. Popham. cit. In folklore and in folk custom. his note-books record without criticismsome odd superstitions. Freud mentions only his drawing of hanged men and his interest in military engineering. cit. But the episode described by Vasarihad possibly to do with his study of flight.10 98Cf. 196. with the inscription: " the thoughts turn towardshope. 99Notebooks. Paul Sebillot. From the beginningof his careeras an artist.op. Le Folk-lore de France.. no. Vasari recordsamong his early works the painting of a hybrid monster. One is the Leda and the Swan (known only through copies and some original drawings)100which contradictsFreud's statement that Leonardobetrays an extremerepressionin his total avoidanceof erotic subjects. whether in love or business or examinations. 208..98 The scientificbent of Leonardoand his intellectual independence did not free him from popular beliefs. Of the abundant overt examples of his love of violence. speaks lascive" (Beltrami. like a Medusa's head."99 Leonardo'sabstention from animal flesh may be regarded as a medical belief. pl. a magic sacrifice that promised success. as evidences of a hidden childhoodsadism.he has drawn a bird sitting in a cage. Heydenreich. MacCurdy.people of all classes in Paris came to the marketto buy birds and free them. pl.op. it was inspired perhaps by ancient authors in vogue among the Florentine NeoPlatonists. Leonardo producedbeside the tenderimages others of a violent and threatening character. As late as the 1860's.LEONARDO AND FREUD 175 engaging picture of the young genius walking through the marketplace of Florence.
He turned to science. cit. cit.104 In the late 1490'sand towards 1500.. In Leonardo. concentratedoutwardly in her smile. 192. he passed then through a period of intense creativenesswhich was renewedlater when he enjoyed the support of a substitute father. 207.). Freud observestoo that in identifying with his father. revived the artist's childhoodmemories."Psychoanalysis(Feb.02a powerful image of masculineascetic feeling. At the age of fifty. 206. a posthumouschild whose mothermarriedagain when he was three. B. see H.. There is in Freud'saccountan intimation of the masculineside of Leonardo. But since his sublimationto art. 104 Op. Levey Psychiatry..there takes place. like Botticelli's Jerome.the Duke of Milan. His greatworkswereproducedin those two periodsof fatherly attachment. the reawakeningwas short-lived. which is the pattern of all creativeness. 1939. 193. The reader interested in the problemof the effect of repression on the artist will find a strong statement of a view contraryto Freud'sin Van Gogh's letter of August 1888 to the painter Emile Bernard (Vincent Van Gogh. accordingto Freud. " A Critiqueof the Theory of Sublimation.106 Clark. (Lee). Freud points to the relationswith his father. edited and translated by Douglas Lord (Cooper). the young Leonardo strove to copy and excel him. Throughthe re-erotizingof his imagination.op. But since he was still sexuallyrepressed. cit. by abandoning his work. New York.. through some obscurebiologicalprocess. he was again able to produce masterpieces. It is not." 102 103 .176 MEYER SCHAPIRO The other is the great unfinishedJeromein the Vatican. pl. 1938. For Freud's account of Leonardo'ssublimationto science.beating his bared breast with a stone. a reactivation of the erotic energies. the scholarlysaint in his study. To explain why his art is so uneven and why he cannot finish his work. after that he was brought up by his maternal grandmother. his patron Sforza. For a survey and criticism of psychoanalytic ideas concerning sublimation. 105 Op.103This analogy will convince few readers.Leonardocould not sustain his work for long. Op. II. 18. he had to treat his own children-his paintings and sculptures-as his father had treated him. However. the argumentcontinues. On Leonardo'srelation to his father.but he does not attempt to investigate it seriously. Since Leonardoidentified with him at a certain age.this change coincidedwith his meeting with Mona Lisa whose personality. while the lion before him roarswith pain from the thorn in his foot. Letters to Emile Bernard. 1956).and had lost the supportof both the Duke and his father (who died in 1504).there is a parallel o10 in the life of Newton. it deterioratesmore and more. 70ff.penitent hermit in the wilderness. but the tormented. see my note " Two of Slips Leonardoand a Slip of Freud.was unaccompaniedby real sexual activity. an interest compatible with sexual repressionand dependingon a sublimation that belongs to an earlier period of infancy than the sublimationto art. cit.
his good and bad periods. and helps us to understandwhy the five years he spent in Florencewere more productivethan the precedingeighteen years spent in the north of Italy.too. must become a critic of art and commit himself to judgments about the better and worse in the painter's career. Freud. and he must venture.. and institutions. although historiansmake little use of Freud's psychology of the unconscious. 107). and the vicissitudes of his work." 108 Freud'sjudgmentof Leonardo's productivityand quality shouldbe Freud'sforewordto Marie Bonaparte. which seeks to explain the content of his art. In appealing so often to history in this paper. we could 107 compared with that of Clark (op. too.the terms used in describing social behavior sum up what we know of individuals. that psychoanalysis"could reveal the factors which awaken genius and the sort of subject-matterit is fated to choose. as he said elsewhere. Nevertheless. beliefs. apart from the accepted estimations of the artist as a whole. I believe this study of Freud's book points to weaknesseswhich will be found in other worksby psychoanalystsin the cultural fields: the habit of building explanationsof complex phenomenaon a single datum and the too little attention given to history and the social situation in dealing with individualsand even with the origin of customs. thanks to his theory and method. speakingof the admirationof the Florentinesfor Leonardo'sServite cartoon of Anna Metterza.Freud was able. however. as well as to infer from the paintings the personalityand early life of the artist.to pose altogether new and important questions about his personality.Freud has warned the readerthat psychoanalysisdoes not pretend to explain genius or the groundsof excellence in art. are in part psychological. some opinions about the dates of works which professionalhistorianswere still unable to decide. But if all historical explanationsdepended on psychology. we have seen. I do not mean to oppose historical or sociological explanations to psychological ones. cit. he says: "Such popular enthusiasm would hardly have been possiblein Milan.Edgar Poe (Paris.l08 From all this the readercan judge the difficultiesof a psychoanalytic approachto an artist.LEONARDO AND FREUD 177 More than once in his study of Leonardo. The former. 1933). But he believed. .without riskingsome judgmentsabout the quality of single worksof art. For how can he speak otherwiseof the early experiences as factors that facilitate or block the action of an organically rooted power? To construct his picture of Leonardo'sspiritual fortunes. questions which were unsuspected by earlier writers and to which no better answers than Freud's have yet been given."107 He cannot assert this. and perhapseven more to his deep sympathy for the tragic and problematic in Leonardo. his qualities of style.
It seems that evaluate the consequences Jung.after " Havelock" (a confusionof HavelockEllis and Maclagan? -Ellis. The author wishes to demonsexual normalityand the rich erotic content of his strate. is the fact. 109 Since this was writtenthere has appearedthe article by . too. reported by Jones. Just as a theory of physics would not be disprovedby an experimentwith incomplete or incorrectlyrecordeddata. She argues at length that Leonardowas not homosexual.a brilliant jeu d'esprit. R. 1952). RichardWohl and an Assessment of a Psycho"A of Freud's Leonardo. analytic Classic. XVIII (1955). but criticize Freud's theory of the genesis of homosexualityin the light of more recent psychoanalyticstudies."Psychiatry.is no real test of this theory. even if incomplete. had discoveredthe outlines of a vulture in the painting of Saint Anne of Leonardoto Freud. unless we knew the state of the individualand his human environment-data that cannot be supplied without historicalstudy. (348). She observes. that the Leonardobook was Freud's favorite among his own works. which here has been faultily applied. of great interest for the personalsignificance whose combinationof scientificand artistic gifts has often been noted. the book on Leonardo. from James Strachey (348). The authors correct Freud's the kite. that the bird of Leonardo'smemory was no vulture.178 MEYER SCHAPIRO not correctly apply the psychologicalconcepts. these will be usable. His false conclusions do not imply that psychoanalytic theory is wrong. His principles may for other reasons turn out to be inadequate and then be replaced by better ones. Finally. Leonardo's art. 27-39.in a new psychological study of Leonardo. WhereFreud has misinterpretedLeonardo. so Freud'sgeneralaccountof psychological development and the unconsciousprocessesis untouched by the possible misapplicationsto Leonardo. against Freud. explainingthe episodeof 1476 by the customs of the time and by Leonardo'suniversal curiosity and desire for all experience. after a personalcommunication of the correctionfor the book as a whole.and he admits more than once in his book how speculative his attempt is. I must mention also the book by Giuseppina Fumagalli. whether psychoanalytic or those of behavioralpsychology or of the everyday commonsense understandingof human nature. But to apply them fruitfully. but are unawareof Maclagan'sarticle of the text concerning mistranslation of 1923 (see note 10 above). Eros di Leonardo (Milan. which I could not consult until now. Retrospect Harry Trosman. it was in part becausehe ignoredor misreadcertain facts. in reviewingFreud'sbook in the Journalof Mental Science in 1910 did not catch the error). the analyst will need a fuller knowledgeof Leonardo'slife and art and of the culture of his time. but he does not 1955). Freud's error about the vulture has also been noted by Ernest Jones in the secondvolume of his biographyof Freud (New York.109 ColumbiaUniversity. they propose no fresh interpretationof the reminiscence.
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