Wooden, unfinished, and not by Leonardo are
some of the negatives used to describe the portrait known as the Musician.
Without a doubt parts of the picture are far from completion, the lapels of the
man’s coat are mere washes of brown under-painting. Also the black body with a white flash on the
chest appears quite crude. The sitter’s identity has long been a subject of
debate, even a family member from the court of Milan has been suggested as the
sitter. In fact the painting was originally catalogued as ‘A Duke of Milan’.
The sheet of music in the young man’s hand was only rediscovered, hidden
underneath over-painting, in 1905. This prompted scholars to investigate
musicians of the time, Franchino Gaffurio, Josquin des Prez and Atalante
Migliorotti. Gaffurio is now thought to have been too old at the time when the
portrait was painted, as was Prez. Migliorotti is perhaps the frontrunner, however
the debate still rages.
When Leonardo first entered the service of the Duke of Milan it was as a teacher of music (yet another of his many skills).
Is the painting by Leonardo?
Again speculation about the artist who actually painted
this portrait has been fluid to say the least. Because of the disjointed,
unfinished appearance of the work it is possible that some of the artists from
Leonardo’s workshop had a hand in the painting, Ambrogio de Predis and Giovanni Antonio
Boltraffio are prime candidates.
The painting, like so much of Leonardo's work, is unfinished and the stiffness of the composition has led some to speculate on the works attribution to Da Vinci. The painting has, at various points in history, been attributed to Leonardo's workshop or perhaps to a pupil in collaboration with the master. However the majority of experts now believe that the work is by Da Vinci.