Depression in Leonardo da Vinci

It was without doubt one of the most creative and people who have recently given complete history. Leonardo da Vinci is considered the symbol of the Renaissance man. Multifaceted stubborn, he excelled as a painter, with works like “La Gioconda” or “The Last Supper” too well known.

But he also stressed in its facets of scientist, sculptor, anatomist, botanist, architect, musician, poet, engineer and inventor, among other occupations.

The Florentine genius nevertheless suffered bipolarity, like other historical figures such as the painter Vincent Van Gogh. The constant mood disorders afflicting however did not prevent the triumph in all disciplines cited. His life is a great example of triumph over adversity.

Brief biography of Leonardo da Vinci

Born April 15, 1452 in Anchiano, Tuscany, at that time part of the Republic of Florence, Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was the illegitimate son of a nobleman, who had an affair with a humble peasant.

From childhood he was a nature lover and aficionado to the drawings. In 1469 he was apprenticed at the prestigious art studio of Andrea del Verrocchio, who partly owes its multidisciplinary training.

Some authors have noted that the author of the Mona Lisa, the picture of the lady enigmatic smile (do not know if it is full of bitterness) suffered from bipolar disorder. But obviously he could not diagnose him at that time, what is clear is continuously Da Vinci suffered mood disorders.

Worsening state of Leonardo da Vinci

When Da Vinci was 29 years his depression worsened, because it competed to decorate the Sistine Chapel in the Cathedral of St. Peter’s Basilica. As was not elected, he suffered extreme mood disturbance that prevented such end the painting “Adoration of the Magi”.

Later, his condition worsened also because the Pope prevented dissect cadavers. Ardent student of human anatomy, the Florentine was genuine curiosity about the operation which he considered the most perfect machine that had ever observed.

At first he was content to dissect bodies of animals, as human were booked with reservations physicians and surgeons who count with the permission of the authorities. Still it was a practice that was frowned upon. Leonardo got the necessary approvals and sought bodies especially among publicly executed criminals. Milan had managed to make these practices on several occasions, but when he moved to Rome Pope Leo X, the Medici family, whom I knew quite well, was warned of what he did. The dissection was not permitted in Rome, as in other cities. The Pope forgave him, and decided not to punish him in any way, but warned that it should not continue with those practices.

The ban prevented Leonardo continue with its plan to publish a complete treatise on anatomy, a project that had a few years earlier suffered a huge setback for the death of anatomist Marcantonio della Torre, professor at the University of Pavia, who was to collaborate with him in this company.

Depression in the work of Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci himself made a famous and masterful illustration of the Hippocratic theory of four humors. According to studies of Hippocrates, made in the days of ancient Greece, the excess or deficiency of four elements associated with a particular behavior.

Thus, people with a lot of blood considered blood (emotional), those with much bile were choleric (irritable, violent), those with too much phlegm were called phlegmatic (balanced), and those with much black bile, considered melancholy (apathetic or sad). At that time only spoke of melancholy, it lacked much to be diagnosed with depression. It was one of the first hypothesis history of depression.