A celestial musician

Portrait of a Musician by Leonardo da Vinci, Pinacoteca, Milan

The Portrait of a Musician is another unfinished painting attributed in part to Leonardo da Vinci. It is thought to have been painted in 1485, which would place it in the period after the artist moved to Milan sometime between 1482 and 1483.

Various identities have been given to the sitter but a more recent suggestion is that of Atalante Migliorotti, a musician said to have been taught by Leonardo and who accompanied his tutor when he left Florence for Milan to work for the Sforza family.

Migliorotti is mentioned in a list of works noted by Leonardo: “a portrait of Atalante raising his face”. The painting is presumambly a lost work and is not the the particular portrait above, which would suggest that Leonardo made two paintings of Atalante.

However, evidence of the lost portrait of “Atalante looking up” appears in Botticelli’s Uffizi Adoration of the Magi. The painting also points to the surviving Portrait of a Musician which would suggest it was completed before 1485 while Leonardo and Atalante were still in Florence.

As mentioned in an earlier post Botticelli’s Uffizi Adoration could not have been completed before 1480 as it includes elements related to the Pazzi conspiracy and assassination of Giuliano de’ Medici. Completion may even have been after the death in April 1481 of its patron Guasparre dal Lama.

My next post will deal with the iconography that points to Leonardo’s two paintings of Atalante Migliorotti.

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