March 15, 2023

Climax in Discovery: Looking at
the Unexpected Cause Behind
da Vinci’s Genius

‘What interested him in a picture was above all a problem; and behind the first he saw countless more’ - Leonardo da Vinci and A Memory of His Childhood (1910)

This quotation from Freud’s analysis of one of modern history’s most popular “genius” figures demonstrates a lifelong dilemma: that he invariably became more interested in the subjects of his art than with the art itself.

And while this inability to complete artistic projects is hardly confined to da Vinci alone, his motivations for doing so certainly extend beyond a simple lack of follow-through.

Freud posits that this creative schizophrenia was caused as a result of da Vinci’s abnormal sexual development. And for anyone who’s assembled even the most rudimentary profile of the artist, it’s likely they’ve come across the interminable claims of his apocryphal homosexuality.

What we can infer, regardless of his true sexual orientation, is that da Vinci was certainly abnormal in this aspect of his life. Freud, being a preeminent figure on this aspect of human development, believed that da Vinci was one of a rare type of individual who’s sexual instinct was sublimated entirely into non-sexual interests; thus providing an explanation for his obsessive and insatiable appetite for knowledge.

This untiring desire for discovery resulted in his eclectic study and development in fields ranging from physics, anatomy, weaponry, architecture, and nature.

Simon Archibald
Executive Creative Director