M. Miintz holds that Leonardo's picture for the monks of S. Donato was more advanced than the Uffizi cartoon, which is only a sketch in bistre, and the records of the monastery show that ultramarine was provided for Leonardo's work. But the entry of the ultramarine is a month previous to the payment to Leonardo for painting the clock, and is probably connected with it.
The subject of an altarpiece for a chapel of S. Bernard would presumably refer to the saint, as did the former altarpiece by Bernardo Daddi and that executed in 1485 by Filippino Lippi, which was placed in the Sala del Consiglio instead of the chapel. It is now in the Ufiizi. It represents the Madonna enthroned with S. Victor, S. John the Baptist, S. Bernard and S. Zenobius.
The " Anonimo Fiorentino " refers to it in the life of Filippino: " He painted in the lesser council chamber of the Palace of the Signoria the altarpiece containing a Madonna with other figures which Leonardo had commenced to paint"; and in the life of Leonardo he says it was finished by Filippino from his cartoon. The composition of the picture gives no support to these statements. Can their origin have been a similarity in subject?
A pen drawing in the Uffizi (No. 446) of an old man's head in right profile, and a head of a young man in left profile with shaven crown looking up, has below it a note partly torn, "... bre 1478 ichomiciai le. 2. Vgine Marie." The preceding letter partly visible was I believe 0. The month, from its termination, must be one of the last four, say, " October 1478 I commenced the two of the Virgin Mary."
The younger of the two heads is connected with S. Leonard in the Berlin Ascension of Christ, which is the work of a pupil who took the head from the drawing.
The other head presents strong analogies to one of an old man in a sheet of studies for the Adoration in the British Museum.
Both heads might in fact be studies for the Adoration, the youthful head having a strong resemblance to the figure seen in profile with raised right hand on the right of the Madonna in the Uffizi cartoon.
But 1478 is the year of the commission for the chapel of S. Bernard for which the picture which he began contained, according to the " Anonimo," " a Madonna with other figures." The most natural interpretation of this note is that it refers to studies for this composition, marking the date at which Leonardo commenced two alternative cartoons.
The younger of the two heads may be a study for the same composition. The devout upturned gaze suggests S. Bernard beholding the Madonna in vision. The characteristics of the face are not dissimilar to the far less dramatic presentation of the saint in Filippino's picture in the Uffizi.
A drawing in the collection of M. Bonnat can also with certainty be ascribed to this period. It represents the body of a young man hanging suspended from a rope, with long loose garments, with his hands bound behind his back. The face is sketched again at the bottom of the sheet. Above the drawing is the note: " Small tan-coloured cap, black satin doublet, lined black jerkin, blue cloak lined with fur of foxes' breasts, and the collar of the cloak covered with velvet speckled black and red; Bernardo di Bandino Baroncelli; black hose."
This ringleader in the conspiracy of the Pazzi, who was the first to stab Giuliano de' Medici, escaped from the fury of the populace and fled to Constantinople, but was given up by the Sultan to Lorenzo's emissaries, taken back to Florence and hanged from a window of the Bargello on the 29th of December, 1479. The drawing proves that Leonardo was then in Florence. The details of the description suggest that the sketch was intended to serve as material for a picture.
Vasari mentions a decree of the Signoria that the traitors should be painted in fresco on the facade of the Bargello, but attributes the execution of the work to Andrea del Castagno, who at the time of the conspiracy had already been dead twenty years. The real authorship is established by an entry in the minutes of the Council of Eight, dated 21st July, 1478, sanctioning the payment of forty florins to Botticelli for his labour in painting the traitors.
The " Anonimo Fiorentino " says that Bernardo di Ban-dini was represented in Botticelli's fresco hanging by the neck with a condemnatory epitaph below; but as he was then still a fugitive, this can only have been an anticipation of the event of which Leonardo's drawing is a record. Leonardo, from his connection with Lorenzo, might very conceivably have been associated with Botticelli in the commission or selected to add to his work.
That he no longer lived as a member of his father's household is evidenced by the fact that in Ser Piero's taxation return for 1480 his name does not occur. The documents already cited establish his presence in Florence in 1472, 1476, 1478, 1480, and as late as August, 1481.
The next time-references of equal definiteness relate to the year 1487. He was then already established in Milan. Bernardo Bellincioni alludes to him in a poem, " La Visione," among the illustrious men whom Ludovic has gathered at his Court, Da Fiorenza un Apelle ha qui condotto.
The reference is explained in a note at the side as " Magister Lionardo da uinci." The poem must have been written in 1487 on account of the description in it of Gian Galeazzo, who was born in 1468, as being then about nineteen years old ("egli e gia d' anni presso a quattro lustri").