D is for…?

The picture above shows two initials carved on the bark of a tree in woodland near to my home. The monogram’s message is clear-cut: K loves B.

It reminds me of a monogram associated with Leonardo da Vinci, formed by linking the letters L, D and V. But notice the emphasis on the letter D. What could be the explanation for the D’s dominance in the monogram?

Was Leonardo providing a cryptic clue to some form of friendship, a close bond, perhaps?

In his book Leonardo da Vinci, The Marvellous Works of Nature and Man, Martin Kemp directs the reader to “Two imperfectly legible lines of writing on a torn sheet from 1478” that “suggest the kind of affectionate relationships he [Leonardo} established: ‘Fioravante di Domenico… in Florence is my most cherished companion, as though he were my…’” 

Leonardo never completed the sentence written above the drawing of two heads facing each other, one being Leonardo, the other, presumably, Domenico. D for Domenico, L for Leonardo. 

On this sheet the young Leonardo appears to be studying intensely the visage of he older man. A similar comparison can be made in Andrea del Verrocchio’s painting of the Baptism of Christ. Here we see Leonardo, as the angel in the forefront, gazing not at Jesus, but the head of Domenico Ghirlandaio depicted as John the Baptist.

The Baptism of Christ (1472-75) by Andrea del Verrochio, Uffizi, Florence.

There are other drawings by Leonardo that resemble the mysterious Domenico, seemingly toothless and ‘sour-faced’. Notice the lion (Leonardo?) on two of the illustrations.

Another and more detailed portrait of Domenico produced by Leonardo (shown below) is assumed to be a preliminary drawing for one of the twelve apostles, the Head of Judas, as featured in The Last Supper mural – or could it represent Peter as well? Both men betrayed Christ.

The Head of Judas (c.1495) by Leonardo da Vinci, Royal Collection Trust

So why would Leonardo want to define this particular Domenico – and if it is Ghirlandaio – as Judas, or even Peter, (bearing in mind my previous post stated that the figure of Christ also represented Ghirlandaio)?

Detail from Leonardo’s mural of The Last Supper, showing the Judas, Peter and John

More about this in a future post.
Another post that relates to the LDV logo at this link.
And at this link, the man who anonymously ‘outed’ Leonardo da Vinci.