In the interest of being sure previous comments made by this writer were understood as intended, a brief review:
"Do you think that the copies, the remains of Leonardo's cleaned original, and the restored version of 'the beloved disciple' are very different from each other?"
To which this writer responded:
Grrr82CU, Post #348353] “This writer respectfully suggests - ultimately - it doesn't matter
“I think that, if it didn't matter, no-one would be looking at the subject, so I think that it probably does matter ~ as far as the discussion, etc, is concerned”
To clarify what was intended
to be understood (apologies if not expressed clearly enough), was that ”ultimately it doesn’t matter” if none or all of the images
of the figure to Jesus’ right look the same or even similar
. Why? Because centuries
before Dan Brown attributed a different interpretation to what he painted, Leonardo committed to writing his own intention to paint the gender of the figure which he describes simply as ”he”
So this writer's original comment as re-quoted above was not meant to be understood in the sense that interest in Leonardo’s “The Last Supper”, or comparisons between original, copied, or restored examples of it, even focusing on the figure to Jesus' right, "do not matter". This writer's intended meaning was - what we “see” is not as important as the standard by which we interpret what we "see"
. Said another way, whatever gender we think
the figure to Jesus’ right appears
to be - should be tempered by the knowledge of what Leonardo indicated was the gender
as he described it in his notebook. Application of how Leonardo's described the intended figure’s gender is what should be providing the standard by which we view what he painted not
what “gender” enthusiastic followers of “The da Vinci Code” assign to it.
What happens - if we set aside for a moment the NT description of the event (that describes Mary Magdalene running to the disciple “Jesus loved” [Jn 20:1,2])? We still have Leonardo's own words written centuries ago
unmistakably telling us that the figure to Jesus’ right was a “he
”. Continuing to insist, therefore, that the figure to Jesus’ right is “female” clearly becomes a case of imposing an artificial standard based on the premise of a novel
over the words of Leonardo himself.
This writer wonders – “How much attention was paid to such matters as the face and anatomical features of the disciple to Jesus’ right before Dan Brown’s made that the lynchpin of his novel’s theme”?
That would be an interesting research project ‘il ne serait pas’ ??
“I think that the combination of the early copies and the latest restoration probably give an indication of what Leonardo wanted his 'beloved disciple' to look like. Whether he intended it to be a female, or an effeminate-looking male, I don't know. I don't think that the conclusion is an obvious one, though”
This writer again proposes that the is issue should not be what we
“see” as the appearance that some interpret
to be female but are we open to our perception of what we see being trained by Leonardo’s own words reagarding the gender of the figure
. If we we are willing to “see” the figure though Leonardo’s “mind’s-eye”
then we will “see” as he
did, a male disciple/apostle inclining his
head towards Peter to hear what was being said to him. That is what Leonardo painted, delicate features after The Florentine School and all, and that is how we should “see” the gender of the figure, not
through a Dan Brown's "da Vinci Code" lens.
“His notes may indicate a male beloved, but his notes also show a typical John ~ which is not like the one in the final painting”
At the very risk risk of becoming redundant, our
perception of what he painted again should be guided by what Leonardo
wrote – very specifically – about the gender of the disciple he intended to portray as leaning toward another. The “face” he places on that figure – again – is irrelevant to the issue of the figure’s gender considering as we should be - The Florentine School’s influence on his era. Surely in many of Leonardo's paintings he also portrays age progression but the very young and the adolescent have very similiar facial stuctures in his works.
“And, if it was meant to be a woman, he was hardly likely to put something heretical in writing”
Intending with every respect to be accorded to the quoted thought above, such a possibility is unsubstantiated by even any remotely credible source. Leonardo’s notebooks were not subject to inspection by the church. He was a fiercely private man and more than once recorded as doing battle with his church and its representatives. It fits neither what we know about his bold personality nor how he lived his life to suspect he deliberately referred to a figure as a "male" that he secretely intended to paint as a "female" just because he feared some sanction by the church if discovered. In the final analysis, there is far more historically-defined reason to believe that he believed
the figure leaning towards Peter to hear him was a male apostle.
Finally, Leonardo was not the only artist to portray the Apostle John in his youth with “delicate” features many today might label “feminine” – although in doing so – they pay no attention to the "gender" that was intended by the artist five centuries or so ago in reflection the influence of The Florentine School. Here is a list of paintings (which this writer will not attempt to display given recent concerns over material that may or may not be copyrighted) from various artist of the era, many of which never saw Leonardo's painting as far as we know, that can be researched and viewed for comparison.
- Duccio, painting dated between 1308 – 1311 CE
- Pietro Lozenzetti, painting dated 1320 CE
- Giotto, painting dated between 1320 – 1325 CE
- Jaume Serra, painting dated between 1370 – 1400 CE
- Gertram von Minden, painting dated between 1390 – 1400 CE
- Master of Raigen, painting dated between 1410 – 1420 CE
- Sassetta, painting dated 1423 CE
- Andrea del Castagno, painting dated 1447 CE
- Jaume Bago Jacomart, painting dated 1450 CE
- Dieric Bouts the Elder, painting dated 1464 – 1467 CE
- Cosimo Rosselle, painting dated 1481 – 1482 CE
- Domenico Ghirlandaio, painting dated 1486 CE
- Leonardo da Vinci, painting dated 1495 - 1498 CE
- Master Paul of Lõcse, painting dated 1508 – 1517 CE
There are other examples but as this list demonstrates, both before (1308-1311 CE) Leonardo portrayed the Apostle John seated to Jesus’ right at “The Last Supper” and continuing afterwards (1508 – 1517 CE), he was not the only artist to reflect The Florentine School’s influence on the era of how youth, innocence, and age was to be portrayed in art.
All of those artists in their own minds were not painting a “female” apostle, they were painting a male – just as Leonardo in his
mind, according to his notes specific to the moment he intended to portray when the disciple to Jesus’ right leans towards Peter to hear what he is trying to ask him, was going to paint a “he
Every piece of credible
evidence available, therefore, validates the position that Leonardo painted the disciple/Apostle John, displayed as young man - not Mary Magdalene.