365 Days of Art: June 7 – Leonardo is Anonymously Accused of Sodomy

Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk (believed to be self-portrait), Leonardo da Vinci, c. 1510-1515

June 7, 1476

Leonardo da Vinci is accused of sodomy. This is the second time since April that this accusation is made; it’s placed anonymously in a mailbox in the town hall. The finger pointer makes the claim that Leonardo and four others have sodomized a young man who works as a goldsmith and male prostitute (in some accounts, he’s also called an artist’s model). The legal system offers the death penalty for sodomy, but it also requires that the complaint be signed, and as such, both accusations are dismissed for not meeting the legal standard.

Leonardo is thought to have been gay, because of these charges and longstanding relationships with two younger men who served as assistants, but there is actually no evidence of any romantic relationships in his life. For this reason, some think that he was celibate, no matter what his orientation may have been.