Nov 10th – Da Vinci’s Canvas

November 10th – Da Vinci’s Canvas


Leonardo’s boat was a small one, but he liked it. Nothing gave him greater pleasure than idly drifting down the Arno, or unfurling the small canvas sail and watching it catch the wind, swelling into life as the small boat picked up speed.

Just like everything else he turned his hand to, Leonardo was a good sailor. Perhaps not yet a master, as he was in many other areas, but he had skill. Everyone on the river acknowledged that, even those that didn’t know, or care, about the Medici connection.

And he needed his skill today. His sail had been torn from the mast a couple of days previously, and so under the power of his own oars he was making his way to the opposite bank of the Florentine waterway, in the shadow of Ponte Vecchio, to Giorgio’s.

Giorgio was a sailmaker, like his father before him, and, although he didn’t know Leonardo was coming, was not surprised to see him. They were friends, of a kind, and although they moved in very different circles, they took a simple kind of pleasure in each other’s company. So when Leonardo entered, and announced that he needed a sail, Giorgio, rather than send him away with a request to come back tomorrow, simply unrolled a large canvas sheet and got to work, as Leonardo watched.

Despite some concern at Giorgio’s measuring technique, and seeing some easy ways in which Giorgio’s stitching could be improved, Leonardo kept quiet and watched his friend work. It was a good way to spend a morning in Florence in late spring, and he had nothing to do that couldn’t wait. He would pick up the panels for the painting later, as he made his way back across the river. For now, he accepted his friend’s offer of a shared bottle of wine, and stretched out his legs on the sailcloth in the corner of Giorgio’s atelier.

Leonardo Da Vinci painted all of his works on wooden panels. Canvas as a medium for painting did not come into common use until after Da Vinci’s death. Although he may have experimented on a couple of Giorgio’s offcuts.

Inspired by prompts from here

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