Leonardo da Vinci is depicted as queer in a new series because it was “part of his life” and it was “right to represent it”, the show’s producer has said.
The miniseries Leonardo, starring Poldark‘s Aidan Turner as the Renaissance painter, aired its first episode in Italy on Tuesday (23 March), and made waves among some viewers for its exploration of da Vinci’s sexuality.
Producer Luca Bernabei told Variety that it was a no-brainer to give da Vinci a queer storyline because the artist was highly unlikely to have been straight.
“We talked about this a lot, and we believe that this was part of his life. So it was right to represent it,” Bernabei said.
“My personal feeling was that I didn’t want to pigeonhole Leonardo [with this aspect]. I didn’t want to put him in a corner. Leonardo, as a character, is larger than his private life. He belongs to world heritage.
“So of course we were representing that part of this life.”
New series makes Leonardo da Vinci’s sexuality ‘clear’
Bernabei said they were eager to represent the complexity of all of Leonardo’s relationships, including those with his muse Caterina da Cremona and his father, clients and maestro.
“We were representing lots of relationships. We wanted to make it clear [that he was queer] and also make the show accessible to everyone.
“We wanted everyone to feel the same feelings that Leonardo was feeling. My idea of any character is that you are with him. That, as an audience, you embody that character; you love that character if the character is feeling something that you can feel.”
Nobody has ever successfully managed to determine whether Leonardo da Vinci was gay. During his lifetime, labels such as “gay” or “straight” didn’t exist, meaning that he likely never thought about his sexuality in the way people do today.
However, scholars have found that he had a number of intense relationships with other men that may have had a romantic or sexual dimension.
Sigmund Freud famously wrote a psychoanalytical essay about Leonardo in which he analysed his drawings and journals and concluded that he likely had suppressed his homosexual tendencies.
Leonardo is expected to debut on Amazon Prime in the UK in April.