Chiaroscuro TP Leonardo DaVinci Vertigo Code Movie


SKU: 15102 Category:


CHIAROSCURO: THE PRIVATE LIVES OF LEONARDO DA VINCI SC – (Pat McGreal & David Rawson/Chas Truog/Rafael Kayanan)

Collects the 10-issue series

Framed around the story of Salai, a young man whose beauty entrances the great maestro, Chiaroscuro follows the struggles and triumphs of da Vinci’s illustrious career.

Cover by Stephen John Phillips & Richard Bruning
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Vertigo

Artist Chaz Truog is fascinated by Leonardo da Vinci. He was also fascinated by the fact that Leonardo adopted a boy who spent the next quarter-century with him, whom he referred to only as Salai–little devil. Truog saw a story in this and broached it to writers McGreal and David Rawson. Intrigued, the latter even descried a resemblance between Leonardo’s Head of a Youth and the head of Michelangelo’s David. Of such fixations was born this graphic novel following Leonardo’s career primarily from the perspective of Salai. Plucked from abusive, semicriminal parents by Leonardo because of his beauty, Salai is depicted as fully deserving Leonardo’s only characterization of him: “obstinate, thief, liar and glutton.” Add to that egoist, manipulator, backbiter, slut, athlete, risk taker, surprisingly loyal assistant, and, of course, first-class stunner, and you have the perfect antihero for believably picaresque historical fiction. Which, thanks to tight scripting, pungent two-level (polite and gutter) dialogue, top-drawer mainstream-comics artwork, intense coloring, and good research, is what this is–and sans superheroes, not excepting that extraordinary human, Leonardo.

The tale concerns the great master Da Vinci, and the sometimes strained relationship he shared with his ward and student, Gian Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno (known as “Salai” or “Little Devil” by mostly everyone, including Da Vinci, who coined this nickname). The romance between Da Vinci and Salai is subtle, which sharply contrasts Salai’s relationships with other men and women in the story, where he is highly sexual, underhanded and sometimes abusive (The title itself refers to a painting style which Da Vinci pioneered, a contrast of light and dark colors, fitting for the main character of the tale).

Rescued from his wicked parents as a child, Salai’s one goal was having Da Vinci’s love and attention all to himself, often resorting to trickery and framing in order to ruin Da Vinci’s friendships with patrons and friends. The reader is both attracted to and repelled by Salai, since we are seeing the story mainly through his eyes, and yet the darker side of his personality makes him difficult to stomach at times. Da Vinci himself seems more than forgiving of Salai, even when knowing the young man had set him up, nearly causing him to destroy his “Mona Lisa,” and that he had posed in the past for his rival, Michelangelo, for his famous “David.”

Despite all his misgivings, perhaps the great master realized that Salai was a bold and impassioned youth in search for love and acceptance, much as we see that Da Vinci himself had been as a young man. Making the same mistakes his own father made, however, Da Vinci chooses not to have sexual relations with Salai in the story, causing Salai to believe Da Vinci does not care for him, and yet Da Vinci clearly has more love and respect for Salai than any other character in the story.

If you’re in the mood for a single, well thought out and intriguing romp into the realm of historical fiction in comics, pick up a copy of Chiaroscuro. You won’t be disappointed.

Collects Chiaroscuro: The Private Lives of Leonardo Da Vinci 1-10. Near mint, 1st print.