A little historical fiction for your amusement…
Pretty well everyone has heard quite a lot about Leonardo da Vinci. I mean he was the creator of the “Mona Lisa”, one of the most famous paintings in the world. It hangs in the Louvre in Paris, and museum-goers are actually allowed to photograph it.
There is a story here: the Mona Lisa in the painting is not his wife, who was named Carina Aurora di Atranto (a local girl from near Leonardo’s home town, which was Vinci in Tuscany) when she married Leonardo. There are however a few hints of what Carina thought of Mona, and what happened between Carina and her husband Leonardo during the painting of the Mona Lisa. And we have to also include Leonardo’s painting of “Mary Magdalene”, who clearly it was not, and how did that go in the studio…as well as, and more to the point again, how did that go with Carina? And of course, then there was the “Shroud”…which pissed Carina off no end ! But she turned it to her advantage. It was no mean feat to “best” a guy as bright as her husband, but she did it.
Most people however don’t even know that Leonardo was in fact married. This is almost never mentioned in the history books, in the same way that Socrates wife is lost to our retro-gaze. It seems Leonardo kept her secluded, if for no other reason than that he was constantly flirting with the Inquisition his whole life. In fact he was lucky not to have suffered the Auto-da-fe, for he was a lifelong “heretic”, being a man of science and empiricism, who was literally contemptuous of the absurdities of the Vatican and what it called the “Catholic Christian faith”.
But he had to survive, to work out his intellectual gifts, to create, to contribute, to pursue truth wherever his mind took him. His surviving paintings and drawings do include religious motifs, but scholars today are increasingly pointing out how Leonardo slipped his anti-catholic, anti-religion views through symbols into his paintings and drawings. In his day these were not perceived as anti-religion, perhaps explained away by the mysticism naturally associated with religion and the times.
Mystical symbols were all the rage in Medieval Europe, and of course had their expression in art.
He loved his wife and did not want her to be “collateral” damage if he was ever “taken” by the Catholic Church, which was in the habit of casually burning people to death after hideous torture, for anything the Church deemed a “heresy”. And he loved his apprentice, a young man of 17 when he came to Leonardo’s studio and stayed for 20 odd years. This “affair” was as likely as anything else to get Leonardo burnt, so he kept his wife Carina well hidden, hoping that in the event she would escape. (In sequestering her Leonardo of course had his apprentice closer at hand, so to speak…).
One of Leonardo’s other “great” works was the painting (actually a mural) of the “Last Supper”, which exemplified some of his “proclivities”…it combined mystic “religious” symbolism (many still being interpreted and counter-interpreted today) with outright taunting of his “audiences” by incorporating androgyny and perverse juxtaposition of the “characters” around Jesus in the scene of the painting: on the left of Jesus is clearly a woman, but of course the WWCC will never admit that this is so…and I, along with scores of lesser known Leonardo “scholars”, am quite certain that the model Leonardo used was none other than his faithful Carina.
And we do know she had considerable influence on him. Carina di Atranto was no fool. Among her many insights was that indeed her husband was really a great man, a genius, not just as an artist but also as a scholar and scientist. He was an inventor too, but rarely actually produced his inventions and this drove Carina crazy: they could have been super-rich ten times over !
The term “polymath” has never been more aptly applied to any person than Leonardo da Vinci.
She actually considered stealing one of her husband’s invention prototypes and taking it to somebody, (anybody!) to have it manufactured and put on the market in Rome, where even in those days “everything went”…
While we cannot of course be absolutely sure, we think the androgynous figure in the Last Supper was modelled by his wife Carina, as were perhaps the women in a number of other paintings and drawings. So he was not averse to using her as a model, but she was apparently never “revealed” in society.
I mean it was pretty well unacceptable to have nude models, although of course artists since time immemorial have done so, (Pompeii led the way but of course the Etruscans and the Greeks were close behind…or probably “ahead”…) and Leonardo was no exception, nude models of both sexes. So Carina was one such, and history doesn’t actually “record” but only speculates, about three or four other prominent women whom he might have painted nude.
Mona wasn’t nude, at least not full length nude as she posed, but one or two later observers have suggested that the little twisted grin of hers was probably her coy come-on to Leonardo. But at work in his studio Leonardo would have had two constraints: his wife did drop by on occasion, and his apprentice, ever jealous of women…and history does not seem to record that Carina was even aware of this particular proclivity on the part of her husband.
And still other women most certainly did pose nude for Leonardo. Carina was pissed off regularly, but not as pissed off as she was about Leonardo’s failure to make money on his inventions. For example, he invented the first pressure cooker, and given the toughness of edible meats and even vegetables in the mid-Renaissance era of local agriculture, such a vessel would have taken Italy, and indeed Europe, by storm.
Leonardo would have been worth millions.
Carina also knew that his warfare inventions alone were quite literally “worth their weight in gold” so to speak, and while Leonardo did benefit from them to maintain his status as respected inventor and artist, he never did make any real money from them – in effect, all such work was proprietary to the Duke d’Forza, under whose “protection” Leonardo worked for many years. Given the “warring city-state” Italian politics of the time, the Duke made good use of military inventions.
Carina nagged and seethed, nagged and seethed. She was on the point, several times, of blackmailing him with the Inquisition over his cadaver dissections, which she just abhorred, but she was aware of the role the knowledge gained from dissection played in Leonardo’s painting of the human form, and his sculpture. His work was utterly awesome, and she knew it.
Today a cache of pornographic drawings by Leonardo has just been found, and it is spectacular. We don’t know Carina’s role in these, but even she would have been cautious about exploiting them in deepest “Catholic” Italy. The Catholic Church was an “equal opportunity” murderer of what it called “heretics”, and women were not spared. The Church would deem a “heretic” anybody it wanted killed, and the Pope having considerable temporal power, if He said somebody was a heretic, that person was a heretic and was burnt to death after gruesome torture. Usually the Church “inherited” the lands, property and goods of such victims. This “largesse” was often spread around to ruling families in Italy’s feudal system of city states.
Today the World Wide Catholic Church, for example, is worth over a trillion dollars.
This enables it to create and run its grand theme park in Rome, complete with its own rules, costumed characters and rituals: this is today known as “The Vatican”. It does as much visitor business as do the Disney theme parks.
Not bad for an organization only concerned with the spiritual welfare of its flocks.
The local Catholic Bishop, as Catholic bishops, local or distant, are wont to do, approached Leonardo with a commission: he wanted a burial shroud faked as coming from the tomb of Jesus in AD 36, as per the New Testament Gospel of Luke (which of course was never written by any “Luke”. This was to be “discovered”, as having been hidden away for centuries in a church crypt, and “revealed” to the world in a kind of “world premiere”, and then used to lure pilgrims to the Bishop’s church, in a stream, then a flood, enriching the Bishop personally.
They’re still talking about this shroud today. Numerous books have been written about it. It’s creator is still moot, but I know who made it.
Leonardo didn’t cash in on his creation, and Carina was again exasperated. Nothing worked out for her: just a few baubles and dresses and shoes were all she wanted, and perhaps the odd outing with her husband to show off – she was, after all, quite an attractive woman, and she knew it.
But Leonardo did set to work on the fake shroud as requested by the Bishop who wanted to commit criminal fraud with it, but it took Leo quite a long time figuring out how to make it so it would indeed almost “be” authentic.
He got the oldest piece of cloth he could find (dating unfortunately only to about AD 700 apparently) and, with some adjustments (a piece had to be sewn on to get the size right), formed it into a burial shroud in the manner of AD 36 Judea (meaning an “over” and “under” part, accomplished by a fold-over at the top).
Then he leaned on his Alchemy (alchemy not of the “devil”, but that alchemy which sought primarily to turn base metals into gold…but Leo went a lot deeper into real chemistry) skills to derive a photographic emulsion, which must have taken him some time, necessary experimentation done by trial and error.
Once ready, this emulsion coated the putative “shroud”, and Leonardo himself, in the role of Jesus Christ, lay down on it and took a full frontal “photograph” of himself in the nude (hands crossed decorously over his genitals), using the strongest light he could muster to trigger the emulsion.
Then apparently he got somebody else at least three inches shorter than he to pose for the back “photo”, a fact easily observed on the shroud itself, and creating an on-going problem for those who, “catholics” of course, cleave to this shroud as the burial shroud of their “christ”. Clearly the back didn’t matter. There are many who think this imprint was of his apprentice, and that the “occasion” might have been also used for other purposes.
A very distinctive feature of the frontal image in particular are the stigmata attributed to Christ’s body at the crucifixion: Leonardo painted them all in on himself and they transferred to the shroud, including some real human blood, likely from one of his dissection cadavers.
Although Leonardo apparently, with his self-acquired considerable knowledge of anatomy, used the blood to indicate the popular catholic stigmata points on the shroud. He made them on the wrists, but the jury is still out on what was classic Roman crucifixion procedure in AD 36.
Leonardo was a very thorough man, and he regularly had access to corpses for his medical research.
Satisfied after “curing” that the images were strong (although somewhat faded, they have lasted to this day) Leonardo “aged” the cloth some more and delivered it to the Bishop, the co-conspirator, who was extremely pleased with the effect of the shroud. He rewarded Leonardo handsomely, but of course the artist had to keep mum about the scam by the Bishop, and the Vatican, and the Catholic Church, a scam designed to take the hard-earned money of pilgrims to enrich the Bishop, the Pope, the Vatican, and perhaps also the Doge.
The Vatican put the shroud away for some time, but eventually put it on display after “discovering” it in a secret crypt underneath the nave (perhaps “knave” would be more appropriate) of a cathedral. The shroud went on to make the Vatican an awful lot of money, with the Vatican knowing full well that it was mocking God by perpetrating this fraud on its “believing” humanity.
The Vatican never had any scruples about fraud, lying, cheating, murdering and robbing.
Leonardo’s name was never associated at that time with the putative burial shroud of Christ. What may have been the actual first photograph ever taken would have been entirely out of the realm of the smartest of the day in Renaissance Italy. Even today it has taken decades of research to reverse engineer the shroud, and what is apparent is truly magnificent. It is almost certain that only Leonardo had the skills to bring off such a forgery, and there are Church records to indicate that a commission of some sort was delivered to the Bishop by Leonardo just at that point in time.
But there is another follow-up to this story. The generous payment to Leonardo by the Bishop found its way into Carina’s hands. She had at least some idea of what her husband was up to, since she saw his own face on the shroud several times when she arrived at noon with a food basket for him and the apprentice.
Carina used this as a lever to essentially blackmail her own husband into giving her the whole amount of the commission in return for her silence forever.
Leonardo complied instantly – he didn’t care much about money except insofar as it helped him get what he needed for his work and research – and he loved Carina and knew she deserved better than him as a husband. He’d actually once been accused and arrested for “possible homosexuality”, so knew he had to be careful – a second arrest could be fatal, and Carina had shown the “patience of Job” with him when she eventually and inevitably tumbled to the facts.
Today one of Leonardo’s self-portraits is a dead ringer for the face on the shroud, something that was probably obvious decades, perhaps centuries ago, but kept under wraps, because during all the times it has been used, up to the present day, the shroud has brought in quick cash for the Catholic Church, as the face of “Jesus”.
“Jesus be Praised!” for the great work of His Church, the Rock of Peter.
What more can I say? If you love Jesus, love his “shroud”.
Today the Vatican still has an “open mind” on the question of the shroud, though its own records show clearly the origins of the shroud. It’s always better of course to continue with fraud and deception if a buck can be made thereby…
Hypocrisy is “Catholic”. Catholic is hypocrisy, monumental, shameless, soul-destroying hypocrisy.
Leonardo is nodding somewhere.
Carina is still pissed off, somewhere, about never having gone to a Ball at the Palace of the Doge…