Scapigliata HEAD OF A WOMAN (“La Scapigliata”)

Scapigliata HEAD OF A WOMAN (“La Scapigliata”)

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Although the panel is incomplete and only some parts of the face appear carefully painted in Leonardo’s typical style, at first glance the attribution should not leave any doubts. Often, however, critics have not shown appropriate interest in this portrait, which was described as early as 1627 in the Gonzaga inventory as: “. . . A woman’s head with tousled hair, a sketch . . . the work of Leonardo da Vinci”.

The entry authenticates the opus but its date is still to be established. We have no idea whether we are dealing with a youthful or a mature work, as might be suggested by the classicism that Leonardo had learned during his trips to Rome.

In the first decade of the 1500s, Leonardo revisited some of his youthful experiments and reproduced them adding more volume. So if we see La Scapigliata from this perspective, with the angle of the face tilted slightly to the right, there are analogies with his studies for Leda. In any case, this is a beautiful face, with an intense, intent expression, and with an enigmatic inner smile that embodies the typical androgynous look of all Leonardo’s figures.