This is morning. A clean, pure white canvas. A large rectangle of opportunity, of promise. But with this fresh start comes new worry. It is a daunting prospect, the first brushstroke. HIs model sits patiently, waiting for him to start. She is expecting to sit for some days.
Leonardo frets and bustles about. He checks his brushes, mixes his colours, draws the curtains a little further, checks his brushes again. He is merely putting off that moment when he first stains the accusing blank in front of him. Rather as one hesitates momentarily before entering the shower; fully aware that once in there the soothing warm sprinkle will be a delight, but still nervous to cross that boundary.
He is undecided how he wants this to be, surely not yet another straight portrait? He must try to capture something new. He has no ideas. He looks at his model, still waiting expressionless. He explains gently that he is nearly ready to go, and once more fusses over his equipment. No really, he tells her, I know what I’m doing. His attempt at confidence is seen for what it is, she sees through him and is entertained by the master’s dallying.
He looks up once more, she is amused by his indecision, and involuntarily gives a knowing half-smile.
Inspired, he begins.