GIAN GIACOMO CAPROTTI DA ORENO

Portrait of Salai c. 1495-1500. By Unknown, but I think it's a self portrait by Salai with help from Leonardo. 

 

  • Aka: Salai, Salino, Andrea Salai
  • Salai means: "Little Devil" "The Unclean one" 
  • Born before: March 10th' 1480 Oreno, Vimercate; Italy
  • Died: 1524 Milan (In a crossbow duel) 

LEONARDO'S FIRST ACCOUNT FROM HIS JOURNALS. 

"Giacomo came to live with me on St.-Mary Magdalen’s (July 22, 1490) aged 10 years. The second day I had two shirts cut out for him, a pair of hose, and a jerkin, and when I put aside some money to pay for these things he stole 4 Lire -the money out of the purse; and I could never make him confess, though I was quite certain of the fact.—Thief, liar, obstinate, glutton.
The day after, I went to sup with Giacomo Andrea, and the said Giacomo supped for two and did mischief for four; for he brake 3 cruets, spilled the wine, and after this came to sup where I..." Cuts off

Although it seemed like a good idea at the time, Gian Giacomo soon earned the nickname Salai because of his constant stealing and breaking things. There are notes in da Vinci’s journals about what Salai broke and how much his father would have to reimburse.  Speaking of which, the name Salai is used more than any other in all of Leonardo's journals.

Although he was taken in as a youth he stayed with Leonardo for the rest of his life, almost 30 years. At some point it’s safe to say that they became more than pupil and teacher. Leonardo even left half of his vineyard to Salai upon his death. 

“SALAI IOUOREPASERECOENOGUERE. NOPIUGERA. HEIOMARENDO”
“SALAI, I WANT TO REST, NO MORE WARS. NO MORE WAR. I SURRENDER.”

Vasari describes Salai:

"a graceful and beautiful youth with curly hair, in which Leonardo greatly delighted"

 

 

All of these images are of Salai.