Sprezzatura is an Italian word first used by an aristocrat named Baldassare Castiglione, the principal author of the famous book The Book of the Courtier in 1528. Included among his compositions and writings are etiquettes suited for the aristocrat. According to him, one of the true natures of a real aristocrat is the preservation of one’s composure despite the trials that one is faced against. Born of an aristocratic descent and with continuous education from prominent courts and trainings from knights, Castiglione had in mind that an aristocrat should be taught to respond to everything thrown to him in a dignified and graceful manner.
A true aristocrat should be able to maintain his behavior and be distinguished at all means and costs. This character of indifference he had called sprezzatura. For him it is an art, in the sense that he aristocrat is expected to be detached effortlessly to whatever is asked for him. According to Nordquist (n. d), it is related to the cool composure that one is taught to be as exemplified in Rudyard Kipling’s infamous poem “If”. In relation to composition and in the contemporary context as well as in “If”, this attitude is one that a speaker or writer should achieve.
One is asked to act naturally and make everything look effortless and easy said and done. Because the drafts that a writer writes before he finally creates a masterpiece are not to be related to his readers, it can be likened that the final paper will look effortless to the eyes of the readers. To exhibit sprezzatura means to express artistic capabilities and artistic talents without difficulties or without “trying hard”. Both Lorenzo de Medici and Leonardo da Vinci are not coined Renaissance Men for nothing. It is notable that the two great men are both intellectually gifted, widely cultured and highly adapted.
As the pioneer meaning of the term implies, a Renaissance man should have sufficient knowledge and is highly adapted to any surrounding. Lorenzo de Medici, more popularly known as the Magnificent, was a superior in artistic sensitivity and integrity. After being honed by his grandfather to be a well-suited authoritative person, he had been well-rounded in the fields of science, linguistics, speeches, poetry and humanism among others. During his time he was one of the most influential men in Florence and further ascended to a greater noble status.
He took control of the state after his grandfather and primary mentor died, thus starting for him a new turn as the ruler of Florence at the age of 20, so elected by the citizens. Leonardo da Vinci, also noted as a Renaissance Man, has been well-trained as a sculptor, draftsman, architect, painter, and engineer. Some of his paintings that had found their way into the mainstream are the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. Most of his well acclaimed works had been influential, and so were his notes that showed how he thought ahead of his time. Unlike de Medici, Leonardo was born from peasant and a lawyer.
He had been taught extensively by his father but most of what he knew he had learned on his own. Leonardo had been under an apprenticeship with one of Lorenzo de Medici’s patrons. Despite his intelligence, seeking the financial aid of others was not easy for him and thus prompted him to move from one place to another in quest of a willing sponsor. His endeavors brought him to designing the military weapons for the wars, which did help in his artistic talent yet did not really help much. But because at that time war was considered as part of the arts, he had the opportunity to master the arts through it.
The two shared major similarities: both were educated by their families, both influenced other people, and both were adept at any assignment. However, from their more personal accounts their lives were different especially if their backgrounds were to be compared. Lorenzo was born from a family of rulers while Leonardo was born from a middle class family. This did not stop them though from being the great men that they are seen to be.
Reference: Nordquist, Richard. (n. d). What is Sprezzatura? About. com: Grammar and Composition. 30 April 30, 2009. http://grammar. about. com/od/qaaboutrhetoric/f/sprezzqa2007.
htm Liukkonen, Petri. (2008). Baldassare Castiglione (1478-1529) – conte di Novilara. Books and Writers. 30 April 2009. http://www. kirjasto. sci. fi/castigli. htm Lorenzo de’ Medici. (n. d). Answers. com. 30 April 30, 2009. http://www. answers. com/topic/lorenzo-de-medici Leonardo da Vinci: the Truth About Da Vinci. (2009). Frequently Asked Questions. 30 April 30, 2009. http://www. thetruthaboutdavinci. com/faq/leonardo-da-vinci. html Encyclopedia Britannica. (n. d). Leonardo da Vinci: Italian artist, engineer and scientist. 30 April 2009. http://www. britannica. com/EBchecked/topic/336408/Leonardo-da-Vinci