Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno

Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno

Who was Leonardo da Vinci's Love?  His twin flame went by many names: Gian Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno aka: Salai, Salino, Andrea Salai, and Giacomo.  

"—Thief, liar, obstinate, glutton."  Leonardo's longest relationship and the person mentioned most in his notebooks.

salai giacomo

Gian Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno, better known as Salaì created paintings under the name of Andrea Salaì.  Giacomo began living with Leonardo at age 10 and became his student, lifelong servant, and companion. 

He was the model for the Mona Lisa, St. John the Baptist, Bacchus, and the Salvatore Mundi among others.  Interestingly, the letters which form "Mona Lisa" can be rearranged to form "Mon Salaì".   

 Salai means: "Little Devil" "The Unclean one".

Salvatore Mundi Giacomo Salai

In Leonardo's own words about Giacomo: 

"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..." 



Giacomo Salai

Giacomo earned the nickname Salaì because of his constant stealing and breaking things. There are notes in da Vinci’s journals about what Salaì broke and how much his father would have to reimburse.  The name Salaì is used more than any other in all of Leonardo's journals.

giacomo salai

He stayed with Leonardo for almost 30 years. Leonardo left half of his vineyard to Giacomo upon his death. It is believed that upon Leonardo's death in 1519, he inherited several paintings including the Mona Lisa. Through his estate, many of those works, notably the Mona Lisa, passed into the possession of Francis I King of France.  

mona lisa giacomo salai


portrait of salai giacomo

Portrait of Salai c. 1495-1500. By Unknown, but is most likely a self portrait with help from Leonardo. 

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