Leonardo da Vinci’s self-portrait, created in 1512 using red chalk, is considered the only surviving self-portrait completed by the artist. The painting depicts an elderly man with long, wavy hair and beard and measures 33.3 x 21.3 cm. This interpretation of Leonardo as a polymath or “Renaissance Man” during the last years of his life is generally accepted.
The painting showcases Leonardo’s mastery of chiaroscuro, the use of light and shadow to create depth and dimensionality in a two-dimensional artwork. Leonardo uses highlights on parts of his face such as under his eyes to create this effect while drawing out some wrinkles around his mouth and chin with hatched lines.
Although interpreted as a self-portrait, some historians disagree on the true identity of the sitter depicted in the painting. One theory suggests that it could be a portrait painted by another artist known as Bernadino Luini. Regardless of its true identity it portrays what was popularly considered at that time- mysteriousness and wisdom coming across from an intellectual being – which mirrors what was always thought about Leonardo da Vinci himself who became famous not just for artworks but also science inventions made throughout history.