“..His evidence lies partly in a little-known poem written in the 1490s – when Leonardo was painting The Last Supper.
Its author, Gasparo Visconti, was a friend of the artist and, like him, a Sforza court employee.
In humorous verse, Visconti mocks an unnamed artist for putting his self-portrait into his paintings – “however handsome it may be” –
- and with his own “actions and ways”, namely gestures and expressions.
Leonardo’s own good looks were legendary, recorded by his 16th century biographer, Giorgio Vasari -
- as “endowed by heaven with beauty, grace and talent”.
And Thomas’s upraised finger gesture in the painting was viewed by contemporaries as a Leonardo trademark.
Dr King also points to a red chalk drawing, believed to depict Leonardo around 1515 – sketched by one of his assistants.
It shows a classically handsome man with a Greek nose, flowing hair and a long beard – “a rare sight on the chins of 15th century Italians”, he notes.
In The Last Supper, Thomas – to the right of Christ – and James the Lesser – second from left – are reminiscent of that image –
- both with a Greek nose, flowing hair and a beard…”
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