Leonardo da Vinci will be ‘gay, vegetarian and left-handed’ in new TV drama

A new TV show that will depict Leonardo da Vinci’s life as a gay man is in the works.

Variety reports that The Man in the High Castle showrunner Frank Sponits and Sherlock writer Steve Thompon are working on the new English-language show for Italian public broadcaster RAI.

The TV show, titled Leonardo, is due to depict the 15th century artist and inventor as described in a biography published last year by US historian Walter Isaacson.

A journalist takes photos of Leonardo da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’ after it was unveiled at Christie’s in New York on October 10, 2017. (JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty)

RAI head of drama Eleonora Andreatta said: “He was a real outsider for those times. He was an illegitimate child, gay, vegetarian and left-handed.”

The show is set to debut in 2019 to mark the 500th anniversary of da Vinci’s death.

According to Variety, the show will shed light on his life through the lens of one of his female models, Caterina.

Each episode will revolve around one of his masterpieces, but Andreatta added that “the personal and adventurous aspects of his life prevail over the purely artistic ones.”

Before Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci: The Biography, the artist’s sexuality had largely been downplayed or omitted in historical accounts.

Leonardo’s female portraits were largely asexual, in contrast to his often erotic drawings of men

The book challenged previous assertions that Leonardo lived a celibate life and noted the painter’s string of younger male companions, the depiction of male sexuality in his art, and public accusations of sodomy made against him during his lifetime.

Da Vinci was twice accused of having gay sex and his youthful male protege was removed because of the “wicked life he had led.” Isaacson also noted that da Vinci’s own writings mused on his own attraction to men and borderline revulsion to sex with women.

The biographer wrote: “There is no reason to believe that he remained celibate… on the contrary, in his life and in his notebooks, there is much evidence that he was not ashamed of his sexual desires [towards men]. Instead he seemed amused by them.”

“In his drawings and sketches, he showed a far greater fascination for the male body than the female. His drawings of male nudes tend to be works of tender beauty, many rendered in full length.

“By contrast, almost all of women he painted, with the exception of a now lost Leda and the Swan, are clothed and shown from the waist up,” Isaacson observed.

A separate film project was put into development at Paramount earlier this year based on Isaacson’s biography, with Leonardo DiCaprio signed on to play the lead.