A DYING MAN – LEONARDO

This is the story of an event in history.

The story takes places in the early evening on the second of May in the year of our Lord Fifteen Hundred and Nineteen.

The place is a dimly lit room in a castle fifty kilometres to the south west of Paris in France.

A frail and sick old man lies on his deathbed.

He breathes uneasily. A slight spring breeze whisks in through the half open paned window.

He is comforted not by a nurse but by another man much younger than he who wears royal regalia and clutches kindly at the shaking hand of the dying man.

They both know a finality is coming and destiny will take its course, that history needs to record this moment.

Between the bed of the dying man and the open window is a small painting perched upon an easel with an untidy array of pigmented paints and artist brushes on a make do shelf below it,

It is supposedly the painting of the wife of a silk merchant which the dying man first began to paint one spring morning in Florence sixteen years ago. It is unfinished.

The two men look over the short distance to the painting of this woman with no eyebrows and with the most captivating smile.  The visitor wishes to know more about the painting and the woman in it but the dying man seems reluctant to tell.

The only inference is that this was a woman whom he deeply ;loved in his own way and that this painting was a masterpiece beyond description with which he could not bear to part.

The gift of the painting would be his last action on earth.

The man in royal regalia proposed to build a grand palace in Paris where the painting could be housed for public exhibition.

It drew a faint smile from the dying man as he took his last breath.

His lifespan had spun sixty seven long years which had taken him from a small Italian village in the heart of Tuscany to becoming a military engineer for the Duke of Milan and a reputable painter of portraits and frescoes in the city of Florence.  He had accepted commissions in Rome and for these last three days of his life, effectively retired from public life at this remote French chateau.

The dying man was someone of few possessions, of great humility and profound intellect who epitomised renaissance through his competence in engineering, invention and art.

The dying man could finally rest in peace.

The legacy of the painting and of the dying man live on to this day.

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