Leonardo, Adoration of the Magi


Leonardo da Vinci, Adorazione dei Magi, 1482, oil on canvas, 246 x 243 cm, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy

I thought this was an extraordinary painting and was sorry the details couldn’t be displayed properly.
It is nearly 8 feet sqare, and painted on 5 wooden panels. It was Leonardo’s first big commission, by Augustinian monks. In it there are 66 figures and 11 animals and there are more sketches for this work than for any of his others. He introduced the technique of “chiaroscuro” using strong contrasts of light and shadow to define three dimensional objects and a sense of volume. He also employed the technique of “sfumato” – smokiness, a kind of veil which dilutes the transition between colours, shadows and light, giving a poetical even dreamlike appearance. As well as the triangular shape given to Mary, Jesus and the Magi.
There is so much going on in the background (pagan temple being repaired, horsemen fighting, pleading old men, possibly a self-portrait) which is open to interpretation. Leonardo da Vinci was the quintessential Renaissance man: artist, architect, engineer, inventor, writer!


Leonardo da Vinci, Vergine delle Rocce, 1486, oil on wood transferred to canvas, 199 x 122 cm, Musée du Louvre, Paris, France


Leonardo da Vinci, Sant’Anna, la Madonna, il Bambino e san Giovannino, 1505, drawing on paper, 142 x 105 cm, National Gallery, London, UK


Leonardo da Vinci, La Scapigliata, 1508, oil on wood, 25 x 21 cm, Galleria Nationale, Parma, Italy

EH, Meeting No 17, 15/05/2018

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