Part 6 out of 17
other, till the last column projects but very little beyond the last
but one. Thus the spaces between the columns are by degrees entirely
lost. So, if your method of perspective is good, it will produce the
same effect; this effect results from standing near the line in
which the columns are placed. This method is not satisfactory unless
the objects seen are viewed from a small hole, in the middle of
which is your point of sight; but if you proceed thus your work will
be perfect and will deceive the beholder, who will see the columns
as they are here figured.
Here the eye is in the middle, at the point _a_ and near to the
[Footnote: The diagram which stands above this chapter in the
original with the note belonging to it: "a b _e la ripruova_" (_a b_
is the proof) has obviously no connection with the text. The second
sketch alone is reproduced and stands in the original between lines
22 and 23.]
If you cannot arrange that those who look at your work should stand
at one particular point, when constructing your work, stand back
until your eye is at least 20 times as far off as the greatest
height and width of your work. This will make so little difference
when the eye of the spectator moves, that it will be hardly
appreciable, and it will look very good.
If the point of sight is at _t_ you would make the figures on the
circle _d b e_ all of one size, as each of them bears the same
relation to the point _t_. But consider the diagram given below and
you will see that this is wrong, and why I shall make _b_ smaller
than _d e_ [Footnote 8: The second diagram of this chapter stands in
the original between lines 8 and 9.].
It is easy to understand that if 2 objects equal to each other are
placed side by side the one at 3 braccia distance looks smaller than
that placed at 2 braccia. This however is rather theoretical than
for practice, because you stand close by [Footnote 11: Instead of
'_se preso_' (=_sie presso_) M. RAVAISSON reads '_sempre se_' which
gives rise to the unmeaning rendering: '_parceque toujours_ ...'].
All the objects in the foreground, whether large or small, are to be
drawn of their proper size, and if you see them from a distance they
will appear just as they ought, and if you see them close they will
diminish of themselves.
[Footnote 15: Compare No. 526 line 18.] Take care that the vertical
plan on which you work out the perspective of the objects seen is of
the same form as the wall on which the work is to be executed.
The size of the figures represented ought to show you the distance
they are seen from. If you see a figure as large as nature you know
it appears to be close to the eye.
WHERE A SPECTATOR SHOULD STAND TO LOOK AT A PICTURE.
Supposing _a b_ to be the picture and _d_ to be the light, I say
that if you place yourself between _c_ and _e_ you will not
understand the picture well and particularly if it is done in oils,
or still more if it is varnished, because it will be lustrous and
somewhat of the nature of a mirror. And for this reason the nearer
you go towards the point _c_, the less you will see, because the
rays of light falling from the window on the picture are reflected
to that point. But if you place yourself between _e_ and _d_ you
will get a good view of it, and the more so as you approach the
point _d_, because that spot is least exposed to these reflected
rays of light.
THE PRACTICAL METHODS OF LIGHT AND SHADE AND AERIAL PERSPECTIVE.
Gradations of light and shade.
OF PAINTING: OF THE DARKNESS OF THE SHADOWS, OR I MAY SAY, THE
BRIGHTNESS OF THE LIGHTS.
Although practical painters attribute to all shaded objects--trees,
fields, hair, beards and skin--four degrees of darkness in each
colour they use: that is to say first a dark foundation, secondly a
spot of colour somewhat resembling the form of the details, thirdly
a somewhat brighter and more defined portion, fourthly the lights
which are more conspicuous than other parts of the figure; still to
me it appears that these gradations are infinite upon a continuous
surface which is in itself infinitely divisible, and I prove it
thus:--[Footnote 7: See Pl. XXXI, No. 1; the two upper sketches.]
Let _a g_ be a continuous surface and let _d_ be the light which
illuminates it; I say--by the 4th [proposition] which says that that
side of an illuminated body is most highly lighted which is nearest
to the source of light--that therefore _g_ must be darker than _c_
in proportion as the line _d g_ is longer than the line _d c_, and
consequently that these gradations of light--or rather of shadow,
are not 4 only, but may be conceived of as infinite, because _c d_
is a continuous surface and every continuous surface is infinitely
divisible; hence the varieties in the length of lines extending
between the light and the illuminated object are infinite, and the
proportion of the light will be the same as that of the length of
the lines between them; extending from the centre of the luminous
body to the surface of the illuminated object.
On the choice of light for a picture (549-554).
HOW THE PAINTER MUST PLACE HIMSELF WITH REFERENCE TO THE LIGHT, TO
GIVE THE EFFECT OF RELIEF.
Let _a b_ be the window, _m_ the point of light. I say that on
whichever side the painter places himself he will be well placed if
only his eye is between the shaded and the illuminated portions of
the object he is drawing; and this place you will find by putting
yourself between the point _m_ and the division between the shadow
and the light on the object to be drawn.
THAT SHADOWS CAST BY A PARTICULAR LIGHT SHOULD BE AVOIDED, BECAUSE
THEY ARE EQUALLY STRONG AT THE ENDS AND AT THE BEGINNING.
The shadows cast by the sun or any other particular light have not a
pleasing effect on the body to which they belong, because the parts
remain confuse, being divided by distinct outlines of light and
shade. And the shadows are of equal strength at the end and at the
HOW LIGHT SHOULD BE THROWN UPON FIGURES.
The light must be arranged in accordance with the natural conditions
under which you wish to represent your figures: that is, if you
represent them in the sunshine make the shadows dark with large
spaces of light, and mark their shadows and those of all the
surrounding objects strongly on the ground. And if you represent
them as in dull weather give little difference of light and shade,
without any shadows at their feet. If you represent them as within
doors, make a strong difference between the lights and shadows, with
shadows on the ground. If the window is screened and the walls
white, there will be little difference of light. If it is lighted by
firelight make the high lights ruddy and strong, and the shadows
dark, and those cast on the walls and on the floor will be clearly
defined and the farther they are from the body the broader and
longer will they be. If the light is partly from the fire and partly
from the outer day, that of day will be the stronger and that of the
fire almost as red as fire itself. Above all see that the figures
you paint are broadly lighted and from above, that is to say all
living persons that you paint; for you will see that all the people
you meet out in the street are lighted from above, and you must know
that if you saw your most intimate friend with a light [on his face]
from below you would find it difficult to recognise him.
OF HELPING THE APPARENT RELIEF OF A PICTURE BY GIVING IT ARTIFICIAL
LIGHT AND SHADE.
To increase relief of a picture you may place, between your figure
and the solid object on which its shadow falls, a line of bright
light, dividing the figure from the object in shadow. And on the
same object you shall represent two light parts which will surround
the shadow cast upon the wall by the figure placed opposite ; and
do this frequently with the limbs which you wish should stand out
somewhat from the body they belong to; particularly when the arms
cross the front of the breast show, between the shadow cast by the
arms on the breast and the shadow on the arms themselves, a little
light seeming to fall through a space between the breast and the
arms; and the more you wish the arm to look detached from the breast
the broader you must make the light; always contrive also to arrange
the figures against the background in such a way as that the parts
in shadow are against a light background and the illuminated
portions against a dark background.
[Footnote 6: Compare the two diagrams under No. 565.]
Remember [to note] the situation of your figures; for the light and
shade will be one thing if the object is in a dark place with a
particular light, and another thing if it is in a light place with
direct sunlight; one thing in a dark place with a diffused evening
light or a cloudy sky, and another in the diffused light of the
atmosphere lighted by the sun.
OF THE JUDGMENT TO BE MADE OF A PAINTER'S WORK.
First you must consider whether the figures have the relief required
by their situation and the light which illuminates them; for the
shadows should not be the same at the extreme ends of the
composition as in the middle, because it is one thing when figures
are surrounded by shadows and another when they have shadows only on
one side. Those which are in the middle of the picture are
surrounded by shadows, because they are shaded by the figures which
stand between them and the light. And those are lighted on one side
only which stand between the principal group and the light, because
where they do not look towards the light they face the group and the
darkness of the group is thrown on them: and where they do not face
the group they face the brilliant light and it is their own darkness
shadowing them, which appears there.
In the second place observe the distribution or arrangement of
figures, and whether they are distributed appropriately to the
circumstances of the story. Thirdly, whether the figures are
actively intent on their particular business.
OF THE TREATMENT OF THE LIGHTS.
First give a general shadow to the whole of that extended part which
is away from the light. Then put in the half shadows and the strong
shadows, comparing them with each other and, in the same way give
the extended light in half tint, afterwards adding the half lights
and the high lights, likewise comparing them together.
The distribution of light and shade (556-559)
OF SHADOWS ON BODIES.
When you represent the dark shadows in bodies in light and shade,
always show the cause of the shadow, and the same with reflections;
because the dark shadows are produced by dark objects and the
reflections by objects only moderately lighted, that is with
diminished light. And there is the same proportion between the
highly lighted part of a body and the part lighted by a reflection
as between the origin of the lights on the body and the origin of
OF LIGHTS AND SHADOWS.
I must remind you to take care that every portion of a body, and
every smallest detail which is ever so little in relief, must be
given its proper importance as to light and shade.
OF THE WAY TO MAKE THE SHADOW ON FIGURES CORRESPOND TO THE LIGHT AND
TO [THE COLOUR] OF THE BODY.
When you draw a figure and you wish to see whether the shadow is the
proper complement to the light, and neither redder nor yellower than
is the nature of the colour you wish to represent in shade, proceed
thus. Cast a shadow with your finger on the illuminated portion, and
if the accidental shadow that you have made is like the natural
shadow cast by your finger on your work, well and good; and by
putting your finger nearer or farther off, you can make darker or
lighter shadows, which you must compare with your own.
OF SURROUNDING BODIES BY VARIOUS FORMS OF SHADOW.
Take care that the shadows cast upon the surface of the bodies by
different objects must undulate according to the various curves of
the limbs which cast the shadows, and of the objects on which they
The juxtaposition of light and shade (560, 561).
The comparison of the various qualities of shadows and lights not
infrequently seems ambiguous and confused to the painter who desires
to imitate and copy the objects he sees. The reason is this: If you
see a white drapery side by side with a black one, that part of the
white drapery which lies against the black one will certainly look
much whiter than the part which lies against something whiter than
itself. [Footnote: It is evident from this that so early as in 1492
Leonardo's writing in perspective was so far advanced that he could
quote his own statements.--As bearing on this subject compare what
is said in No. 280.] And the reason of this is shown in my [book on]
Where a shadow ends in the light, note carefully where it is paler
or deeper and where it is more or less indistinct towards the light;
and, above all, in [painting] youthful figures I remind you not to
make the shadow end like a stone, because flesh has a certain
transparency, as may be seen by looking at a hand held between the
eye and the sun, which shines through it ruddy and bright. Place the
most highly coloured part between the light and shadow. And to see
what shadow tint is needed on the flesh, cast a shadow on it with
your finger, and according as you wish to see it lighter or darker
hold your finger nearer to or farther from your picture, and copy
On the lighting of the background (562-565).
OF THE BACKGROUNDS FOR PAINTED FIGURES.
The ground which surrounds the forms of any object you paint should
be darker than the high lights of those figures, and lighter than
their shadowed part: &c.
OF THE BACKGROUND THAT THE PAINTER SHOULD ADOPT IN HIS WORKS.
Since experience shows us that all bodies are surrounded by light
and shade it is necessary that you, O Painter, should so arrange
that the side which is in light shall terminate against a dark body
and likewise that the shadow side shall terminate against a light
body. And by [following] this rule you will add greatly to the
relief of your figures.
A most important part of painting consists in the backgrounds of the
objects represented; against these backgrounds the outlines of
those natural objects which are convex are always visible, and also
the forms of these bodies against the background, even though the
colours of the bodies should be the same as that of the background.
This is caused by the convex edges of the objects not being
illuminated in the same way as, by the same light, the background is
illuminated, since these edges will often be lighter or darker than
the background. But if the edge is of the same colour as the
background, beyond a doubt it will in that part of the picture
interfere with your perception of the outline, and such a choice in
a picture ought to be rejected by the judgment of good painters,
inasmuch as the purpose of the painter is to make his figures appear
detached from the background; while in the case here described the
contrary occurs, not only in the picture, but in the objects
That you ought, when representing objects above the eye and on one
side--if you wish them to look detached from the wall--to show,
between the shadow on the object and the shadow it casts a middle
light, so that the body will appear to stand away from the wall.
On the lighting of white objects.
HOW WHITE BODIES SHOULD BE REPRESENTED.
If you are representing a white body let it be surrounded by ample
space, because as white has no colour of its own, it is tinged and
altered in some degree by the colour of the objects surrounding it.
If you see a woman dressed in white in the midst of a landscape,
that side which is towards the sun is bright in colour, so much so
that in some portions it will dazzle the eyes like the sun itself;
and the side which is towards the atmosphere,--luminous through
being interwoven with the sun's rays and penetrated by them--since
the atmosphere itself is blue, that side of the woman's figure will
appear steeped in blue. If the surface of the ground about her be
meadows and if she be standing between a field lighted up by the sun
and the sun itself, you will see every portion of those folds which
are towards the meadow tinged by the reflected rays with the colour
of that meadow. Thus the white is transmuted into the colours of the
luminous and of the non-luminous objects near it.
The methods of aerial (567--570).
WHY FACES [SEEN] AT A DISTANCE LOOK DARK.
We see quite plainly that all the images of visible objects that lie
before us, whether large or small, reach our sense by the minute
aperture of the eye; and if, through so small a passage the image
can pass of the vast extent of sky and earth, the face of a
man--being by comparison with such large images almost nothing by
reason of the distance which diminishes it,--fills up so little of
the eye that it is indistinguishable. Having, also, to be
transmitted from the surface to the sense through a dark medium,
that is to say the crystalline lens which looks dark, this image,
not being strong in colour becomes affected by this darkness on its
passage, and on reaching the sense it appears dark; no other reason
can in any way be assigned. If the point in the eye is black, it is
because it is full of a transparent humour as clear as air and acts
like a perforation in a board; on looking into it it appears dark
and the objects seen through the bright air and a dark one become
confused in this darkness.
WHY A MAN SEEN AT A CERTAIN DISTANCE IS NOT RECOGNISABLE.
The perspective of diminution shows us that the farther away an
object is the smaller it looks. If you look at a man at a distance
from you of an arrow's flight, and hold the eye of a small needle
close to your own eye, you can see through it several men whose
images are transmitted to the eye and will all be comprised within
the size of the needle's eye; hence, if the man who is at the
distance of an arrow's flight can send his whole image to your eye,
occupying only a small space in the needle's eye how can you
[expect] in so small a figure to distinguish or see the nose or
mouth or any detail of his person? and, not seeing these you cannot
recognise the man, since these features, which he does not show, are
what give men different aspects.
THE REASON WHY SMALL FIGURES SHOULD NOT BE MADE FINISHED.
I say that the reason that objects appear diminished in size is
because they are remote from the eye; this being the case it is
evident that there must be a great extent of atmosphere between the
eye and the objects, and this air interferes with the distinctness
of the forms of the object. Hence the minute details of these
objects will be indistinguishable and unrecognisable. Therefore, O
Painter, make your smaller figures merely indicated and not highly
finished, otherwise you will produce effects the opposite to nature,
your supreme guide. The object is small by reason of the great
distance between it and the eye, this great distance is filled with
air, that mass of air forms a dense body which intervenes and
prevents the eye seeing the minute details of objects.
Whenever a figure is placed at a considerable distance you lose
first the distinctness of the smallest parts; while the larger parts
are left to the last, losing all distinctness of detail and outline;
and what remains is an oval or spherical figure with confused edges.
The density of a body of smoke looks white below the horizon while
above the horizon it is dark, even if the smoke is in itself of a
uniform colour, this uniformity will vary according to the variety
in the ground on which it is seen.
OF PORTRAIT AND FIGURE PAINTING.
Of sketching figures and portraits (571-572).
OF THE WAY TO LEARN TO COMPOSE FIGURES [IN GROUPS] IN HISTORICAL
When you have well learnt perspective and have by heart the parts
and forms of objects, you must go about, and constantly, as you go,
observe, note and consider the circumstances and behaviour of men in
talking, quarrelling or laughing or fighting together: the action of
the men themselves and the actions of the bystanders, who separate
them or who look on. And take a note of them with slight strokes
thus, in a little book which you should always carry with you. And
it should be of tinted paper, that it may not be rubbed out, but
change the old [when full] for a new one; since these things should
not be rubbed out but preserved with great care; for the forms, and
positions of objects are so infinite that the memory is incapable of
retaining them, wherefore keep these [sketches] as your guides and
[Footnote: Among Leonardo's numerous note books of pocket size not
one has coloured paper, so no sketches answering to this description
can be pointed out. The fact that most of the notes are written in
ink, militates against the supposition that they were made in the
OF A METHOD OF KEEPING IN MIND THE FORM OF A FACE.
If you want to acquire facility for bearing in mind the expression
of a face, first make yourself familiar with a variety of [forms of]
several heads, eyes, noses, mouths, chins and cheeks and necks and
shoulders: And to put a case: Noses are of 10 types: straight,
bulbous, hollow, prominent above or below the middle, aquiline,
regular, flat, round or pointed. These hold good as to profile. In
full face they are of 11 types; these are equal thick in the middle,
thin in the middle, with the tip thick and the root narrow, or
narrow at the tip and wide at the root; with the nostrils wide or
narrow, high or low, and the openings wide or hidden by the point;
and you will find an equal variety in the other details; which
things you must draw from nature and fix them in your mind. Or else,
when you have to draw a face by heart, carry with you a little book
in which you have noted such features; and when you have cast a
glance at the face of the person you wish to draw, you can look, in
private, which nose or mouth is most like, or there make a little
mark to recognise it again at home. Of grotesque faces I need say
nothing, because they are kept in mind without difficulty.
The position of the head.
HOW YOU SHOULD SET TO WORK TO DRAW A HEAD OF WHICH ALL THE PARTS
SHALL AGREE WITH THE POSITION GIVEN TO IT.
To draw a head in which the features shall agree with the turn and
bend of the head, pursue this method. You know that the eyes,
eyebrows, nostrils, corners of the mouth, and sides of the chin, the
jaws, cheeks, ears and all the parts of a face are squarely and
straightly set upon the face.
[Footnote: Compare the drawings and the text belonging to them on
Pl. IX. (No. 315), Pl. X (No. 316), Pl. XL (No. 318) and Pl. XII.
Therefore when you have sketched the face draw lines passing from
one corner of the eye to the other; and so for the placing of each
feature; and after having drawn the ends of the lines beyond the two
sides of the face, look if the spaces inside the same parallel lines
on the right and on the left are equal . But be sure to remember
to make these lines tend to the point of sight.
[Footnote: See Pl. XXXI, No. 4, the slight sketch on the left hand
side. The text of this passage is written by the side of it. In this
sketch the lines seem intentionally incorrect and converging to the
right (compare I. 12) instead of parallel. Compare too with this
text the drawing in red chalk from Windsor Castle which is
reproduced on Pl. XL, No. 2.]
Of the light on the face (574-576).
HOW TO KNOW WHICH SIDE OF AN OBJECT IS TO BE MORE OR LESS LUMINOUS
THAN THE OTHER.
Let _f_ be the light, the head will be the object illuminated by it
and that side of the head on which the rays fall most directly will
be the most highly lighted, and those parts on which the rays fall
most aslant will be less lighted. The light falls as a blow might,
since a blow which falls perpendicularly falls with the greatest
force, and when it falls obliquely it is less forcible than the
former in proportion to the width of the angle. _Exempli gratia_ if
you throw a ball at a wall of which the extremities are equally far
from you the blow will fall straight, and if you throw the ball at
the wall when standing at one end of it the ball will hit it
obliquely and the blow will not tell.
[Footnote: See Pl. XXXI. No. 4; the sketch on the right hand side.]
THE PROOF AND REASON WHY AMONG THE ILLUMINATED PARTS CERTAIN
PORTIONS ARE IN HIGHER LIGHT THAN OTHERS.
Since it is proved that every definite light is, or seems to be,
derived from one single point the side illuminated by it will have
its highest light on the portion where the line of radiance falls
perpendicularly; as is shown above in the lines _a g_, and also in
_a h_ and in _l a_; and that portion of the illuminated side will be
least luminous, where the line of incidence strikes it between two
more dissimilar angles, as is seen at _b c d_. And by this means you
may also know which parts are deprived of light as is seen at _m k_.
Where the angles made by the lines of incidence are most equal there
will be the highest light, and where they are most unequal it will
I will make further mention of the reason of reflections.
[Footnote: See Pl. XXXII. The text, here given complete, is on the
right hand side. The small circles above the beginning of lines 5
and 11 as well as the circle above the text on Pl. XXXI, are in a
paler ink and evidently added by a later hand in order to
distinguish the text as belonging to the _Libro di Pittura_ (see
Prolegomena. No. 12, p. 3). The text on the left hand side of this
page is given as Nos. 577 and 137.]
Where the shadow should be on the face.
General suggestions for historical pictures (577-581).
When you compose a historical picture take two points, one the point
of sight, and the other the source of light; and make this as
distant as possible.
Historical pictures ought not to be crowded and confused with too
PRECEPTS IN PAINTING.
Let you sketches of historical pictures be swift and the working out
of the limbs not be carried too far, but limited to the position of
the limbs, which you can afterwards finish as you please and at your
[Footnote: See Pl. XXXVIII, No. 2. The pen and ink drawing given
there as No. 3 may also be compared with this passage. It is in the
Windsor collection where it is numbered 101.]
The sorest misfortune is when your views are in advance of your
Of composing historical pictures. Of not considering the limbs in
the figures in historical pictures; as many do who, in the wish to
represent the whole of a figure, spoil their compositions. And when
you place one figure behind another take care to draw the whole of
it so that the limbs which come in front of the nearer figures may
stand out in their natural size and place.
How to represent the differences of age and sex (582-583).
How the ages of man should be depicted: that is, Infancy, Childhood,
Youth, Manhood, Old age, Decrepitude.
[Footnote: No answer is here given to this question, in the original
Old men ought to be represented with slow and heavy movements, their
legs bent at the knees, when they stand still, and their feet placed
parallel and apart; bending low with the head leaning forward, and
their arms but little extended.
Women must be represented in modest attitudes, their legs close
together, their arms closely folded, their heads inclined and
somewhat on one side.
Old women should be represented with eager, swift and furious
gestures, like infernal furies; but the action should be more
violent in their arms and head than in their legs.
Little children, with lively and contorted movements when sitting,
and, when standing still, in shy and timid attitudes.
[Footnote: _bracci raccolte_. Compare Pl. XXXIII. This drawing, in
silver point on yellowish tinted paper, the lights heightened with
white, represents two female hands laid together in a lap. Above is
a third finished study of a right hand, apparently holding a veil
from the head across the bosom. This drawing evidently dates from
before 1500 and was very probably done at Florence, perhaps as a
preparatory study for some picture. The type of hand with its
slender thin forms is more like the style of the _Vierge aux
Rochers_ in the Louvre than any later works--as the Mona Lisa for
Of representing the emotions.
THAT A FIGURE IS NOT ADMIRABLE UNLESS IT EXPRESSES BY ITS ACTION THE
PASSION OF ITS SENTIMENT.
That figure is most admirable which by its actions best expresses
the passion that animates it.
HOW AN ANGRY MAN IS TO BE FIGURED.
You must make an angry person holding someone by the hair, wrenching
his head against the ground, and with one knee on his ribs; his
right arm and fist raised on high. His hair must be thrown up, his
brow downcast and knit, his teeth clenched and the two corners of
his mouth grimly set; his neck swelled and bent forward as he leans
over his foe, and full of furrows.
HOW TO REPRESENT A MAN IN DESPAIR.
You must show a man in despair with a knife, having already torn
open his garments, and with one hand tearing open the wound. And
make him standing on his feet and his legs somewhat bent and his
whole person leaning towards the earth; his hair flying in disorder.
Of representing imaginary animals.
HOW YOU SHOULD MAKE AN IMAGINARY ANIMAL LOOK NATURAL.
You know that you cannot invent animals without limbs, each of
which, in itself, must resemble those of some other animal. Hence if
you wish to make an animal, imagined by you, appear natural--let us
say a Dragon, take for its head that of a mastiff or hound, with the
eyes of a cat, the ears of a porcupine, the nose of a greyhound, the
brow of a lion, the temples of an old cock, the neck of a water
[Footnote: The sketch here inserted of two men on horseback fighting
a dragon is the facsimile of a pen and ink drawing belonging to
BARON EDMOND DE ROTHSCHILD of Paris.]
The selection of forms.
OF THE DELUSIONS WHICH ARISE IN JUDGING OF THE LIMBS.
A painter who has clumsy hands will paint similar hands in his
works, and the same will occur with any limb, unless long study has
taught him to avoid it. Therefore, O Painter, look carefully what
part is most ill-favoured in your own person and take particular
pains to correct it in your studies. For if you are coarse, your
figures will seem the same and devoid of charm; and it is the same
with any part that may be good or poor in yourself; it will be shown
in some degree in your figures.
OF THE SELECTION OF BEAUTIFUL FACES.
It seems to me to be no small charm in a painter when he gives his
figures a pleasing air, and this grace, if he have it not by nature,
he may acquire by incidental study in this way: Look about you and
take the best parts of many beautiful faces, of which the beauty is
confirmed rather by public fame than by your own judgment; for you
might be mistaken and choose faces which have some resemblance to
your own. For it would seem that such resemblances often please us;
and if you should be ugly, you would select faces that were not
beautiful and you would then make ugly faces, as many painters do.
For often a master's work resembles himself. So select beauties as I
tell you, and fix them in your mind.
Of the limbs, which ought to be carefully selected, and of all the
other parts with regard to painting.
When selecting figures you should choose slender ones rather than
lean and wooden ones.
OF THE MUSCLES OF ANIMALS.
The hollow spaces interposed between the muscles must not be of such
a character as that the skin should seem to cover two sticks laid
side by side like _c_, nor should they seem like two sticks somewhat
remote from such contact so that the skin hangs in an empty loose
curve as at _f_; but it should be like _i_, laid over the spongy fat
that lies in the angles as the angle _n m o_; which angle is formed
by the contact of the ends of the muscles and as the skin cannot
fold down into such an angle, nature has filled up such angles with
a small quantity of spongy and, as I may say, vesicular fat, with
minute bladders [in it] full of air, which is condensed or rarefied
in them according to the increase or the diminution of the substance
of the muscles; in which latter case the concavity _i_ always has a
larger curve than the muscle.
OF UNDULATING MOVEMENTS AND EQUIPOISE IN FIGURES AND OTHER ANIMALS.
When representing a human figure or some graceful animal, be careful
to avoid a wooden stiffness; that is to say make them move with
equipoise and balance so as not to look like a piece of wood; but
those you want to represent as strong you must not make so,
excepting in the turn of the head.
How to pose figures.
OF GRACE IN THE LIMBS.
The limbs should be adapted to the body with grace and with
reference to the effect that you wish the figure to produce. And if
you wish to produce a figure that shall of itself look light and
graceful you must make the limbs elegant and extended, and without
too much display of the muscles; and those few that are needed for
your purpose you must indicate softly, that is, not very prominent
and without strong shadows; the limbs, and particularly the arms
easy; that is, none of the limbs should be in a straight line with
the adjoining parts. And if the hips, which are the pole of a man,
are by reason of his position, placed so, that the right is higher
than the left, make the point of the higher shoulder in a
perpendicular line above the highest prominence of the hip, and let
this right shoulder be lower than the left. Let the pit of the
throat always be over the centre of the joint of the foot on which
the man is leaning. The leg which is free should have the knee lower
than the other, and near the other leg. The positions of the head
and arms are endless and I shall therefore not enlarge on any rules
for them. Still, let them be easy and pleasing, with various turns
and twists, and the joints gracefully bent, that they may not look
like pieces of wood.
Of appropriate gestures (593-600).
A picture or representation of human figures, ought to be done in
such a way as that the spectator may easily recognise, by means of
their attitudes, the purpose in their minds. Thus, if you have to
represent a man of noble character in the act of speaking, let his
gestures be such as naturally accompany good words; and, in the same
way, if you wish to depict a man of a brutal nature, give him fierce
movements; as with his arms flung out towards the listener, and his
head and breast thrust forward beyond his feet, as if following the
speaker's hands. Thus it is with a deaf and dumb person who, when he
sees two men in conversation--although he is deprived of
hearing--can nevertheless understand, from the attitudes and
gestures of the speakers, the nature of their discussion. I once saw
in Florence a man who had become deaf who, when you spoke very loud
did not understand you, but if you spoke gently and without making
any sound, understood merely from the movement of the lips. Now
perhaps you will say that the lips of a man who speaks loudly do not
move like those of one speaking softly, and that if they were to
move them alike they would be alike understood. As to this argument,
I leave the decision to experiment; make a man speak to you gently
and note [the motion of] his lips.
[Footnote: The first ten lines of this text have already been
published, but with a slightly different reading by Dr. M. JORDAN:
_Das Malerbuch Leonardo da Vinci's_ p. 86.]
OF REPRESENTING A MAN SPEAKING TO A MULTITUDE.
When you wish to represent a man speaking to a number of people,
consider the matter of which he has to treat and adapt his action to
the subject. Thus, if he speaks persuasively, let his action be
appropriate to it. If the matter in hand be to set forth an
argument, let the speaker, with the fingers of the right hand hold
one finger of the left hand, having the two smaller ones closed; and
his face alert, and turned towards the people with mouth a little
open, to look as though he spoke; and if he is sitting let him
appear as though about to rise, with his head forward. If you
represent him standing make him leaning slightly forward with body
and head towards the people. These you must represent as silent and
attentive, all looking at the orator's face with gestures of
admiration; and make some old men in astonishment at the things they
hear, with the corners of their mouths pulled down and drawn in,
their cheeks full of furrows, and their eyebrows raised, and
wrinkling the forehead where they meet. Again, some sitting with
their fingers clasped holding their weary knees. Again, some bent
old man, with one knee crossed over the other; on which let him hold
his hand with his other elbow resting in it and the hand supporting
his bearded chin.
[Footnote: The sketches introduced here are a facsimile of a pen and
ink drawing in the Louvre which Herr CARL BRUN considers as studies
for the Last Supper in the church of _Santa Maria delle Grazie_ (see
Leonardo da Vinci, LXI, pp. 21, 27 and 28 in DOHME'S _Kunst und
Kunstler_, Leipzig, Seemann). I shall not here enter into any
discussion of this suggestion; but as a justification for
introducing the drawing in this place, I may point out that some of
the figures illustrate this passage as perfectly as though they had
been drawn for that express purpose. I have discussed the
probability of a connection between this sketch and the picture of
the Last Supper on p. 335. The original drawing is 27 3/4
centimetres wide by 21 high.--The drawing in silver point on reddish
paper given on Pl. LII. No. 1--the original at Windsor Castle--may
also serve to illustrate the subject of appropriate gestures,
treated in Nos. 593 and 594.]
OF THE DISPOSITION OF LIMBS.
As regards the disposition of limbs in movement you will have to
consider that when you wish to represent a man who, by some chance,
has to turn backwards or to one side, you must not make him move his
feet and all his limbs towards the side to which he turns his head.
Rather must you make the action proceed by degrees and through the
different joints; that is, those of the foot, the knee and the hip
and the neck. And if you set him on the right leg, you must make the
left knee bend inwards, and let his foot be slightly raised on the
outside, and the left shoulder be somewhat lower than the right,
while the nape of the neck is in a line directly over the outer
ancle of the left foot. And the left shoulder will be in a
perpendicular line above the toes of the right foot. And always set
your figures so that the side to which the head turns is not the
side to which the breast faces, since nature for our convenience has
made us with a neck which bends with ease in many directions, the
eye wishing to turn to various points, the different joints. And if
at any time you make a man sitting with his arms at work on
something which is sideways to him, make the upper part of his body
turn upon the hips.
[Footnote: Compare Pl. VII, No. 5. The original drawing at Windsor
Castle is numbered 104.]
When you draw the nude always sketch the whole figure and then
finish those limbs which seem to you the best, but make them act
with the other limbs; otherwise you will get a habit of never
putting the limbs well together on the body.
Never make the head turn the same way as the torso, nor the arm and
leg move together on the same side. And if the face is turned to the
right shoulder, make all the parts lower on the left side than on
the right; and when you turn the body with the breast outwards, if
the head turns to the left side make the parts on the right side
higher than those on the left.
[Footnote: In the original MS. a much defaced sketch is to be seen
by the side of the second part of this chapter; its faded condition
has rendered reproduction impossible. In M. RAVAISSON'S facsimile
the outlines of the head have probably been touched up. This passage
however is fitly illustrated by the drawings on Pl. XXI.]
Of the nature of movements in man. Do not repeat the same gestures
in the limbs of men unless you are compelled by the necessity of
their action, as is shown in _a b_.
[Footnote: See Pl. V, where part of the text is also reproduced. The
effaced figure to the extreme left has evidently been cancelled by
Leonardo himself as unsatisfactory.]
The motions of men must be such as suggest their dignity or their
Make your work carry out your purpose and meaning. That is when you
draw a figure consider well who it is and what you wish it to be
With regard to any action which you give in a picture to an old man
or to a young one, you must make it more energetic in the young man
in proportion as he is stronger than the old one; and in the same
way with a young man and an infant.
OF SETTING ON THE LIMBS.
The limbs which are used for labour must be muscular and those which
are not much used you must make without muscles and softly rounded.
OF THE ACTION OF THE FIGURES.
Represent your figures in such action as may be fitted to express
what purpose is in the mind of each; otherwise your art will not be
SUGGESTIONS FOR COMPOSITIONS.
Of painting battle pieces (601-603).
OF THE WAY OF REPRESENTING A BATTLE.
First you must represent the smoke of artillery mingling in the air
with the dust and tossed up by the movement of horses and the
combatants. And this mixture you must express thus: The dust, being
a thing of earth, has weight; and although from its fineness it is
easily tossed up and mingles with the air, it nevertheless readily
falls again. It is the finest part that rises highest; hence that
part will be least seen and will look almost of the same colour as
the air. The higher the smoke mixed with the dust-laden air rises
towards a certain level, the more it will look like a dark cloud;
and it will be seen that at the top, where the smoke is more
separate from the dust, the smoke will assume a bluish tinge and the
dust will tend to its colour. This mixture of air, smoke and dust
will look much lighter on the side whence the light comes than on
the opposite side. The more the combatants are in this turmoil the
less will they be seen, and the less contrast will there be in their
lights and shadows. Their faces and figures and their appearance,
and the musketeers as well as those near them you must make of a
glowing red. And this glow will diminish in proportion as it is
remote from its cause.
The figures which are between you and the light, if they be at a
distance, will appear dark on a light background, and the lower part
of their legs near the ground will be least visible, because there
the dust is coarsest and densest . And if you introduce horses
galloping outside the crowd, make the little clouds of dust distant
from each other in proportion to the strides made by the horses; and
the clouds which are furthest removed from the horses, should be
least visible; make them high and spreading and thin, and the nearer
ones will be more conspicuous and smaller and denser . The air
must be full of arrows in every direction, some shooting upwards,
some falling, some flying level. The balls from the guns must have a
train of smoke following their flight. The figures in the foreground
you must make with dust on the hair and eyebrows and on other flat
places likely to retain it. The conquerors you will make rushing
onwards with their hair and other light things flying on the wind,
with their brows bent down,
[Footnote: 19--23. Compare 608. 57--75.]
and with the opposite limbs thrust forward; that is where a man puts
forward the right foot the left arm must be advanced. And if you
make any one fallen, you must show the place where he has slipped
and been dragged along the dust into blood stained mire; and in the
half-liquid earth arround show the print of the tramping of men and
horses who have passed that way. Make also a horse dragging the dead
body of his master, and leaving behind him, in the dust and mud, the
track where the body was dragged along. You must make the conquered
and beaten pale, their brows raised and knit, and the skin above
their brows furrowed with pain, the sides of the nose with wrinkles
going in an arch from the nostrils to the eyes, and make the
nostrils drawn up--which is the cause of the lines of which I
speak--, and the lips arched upwards and discovering the upper
teeth; and the teeth apart as with crying out and lamentation. And
make some one shielding his terrified eyes with one hand, the palm
towards the enemy, while the other rests on the ground to support
his half raised body. Others represent shouting with their mouths
open, and running away. You must scatter arms of all sorts among the
feet of the combatants, as broken shields, lances, broken swords and
other such objects. And you must make the dead partly or entirely
covered with dust, which is changed into crimson mire where it has
mingled with the flowing blood whose colour shows it issuing in a
sinuous stream from the corpse. Others must be represented in the
agonies of death grinding their teeth, rolling their eyes, with
their fists clenched against their bodies and their legs contorted.
Some might be shown disarmed and beaten down by the enemy, turning
upon the foe, with teeth and nails, to take an inhuman and bitter
revenge. You might see some riderless horse rushing among the enemy,
with his mane flying in the wind, and doing no little mischief with
his heels. Some maimed warrior may be seen fallen to the earth,
covering himself with his shield, while the enemy, bending over him,
tries to deal him a deathstroke. There again might be seen a number
of men fallen in a heap over a dead horse. You would see some of the
victors leaving the fight and issuing from the crowd, rubbing their
eyes and cheeks with both hands to clean them of the dirt made by
their watering eyes smarting from the dust and smoke. The reserves
may be seen standing, hopeful but cautious; with watchful eyes,
shading them with their hands and gazing through the dense and murky
confusion, attentive to the commands of their captain. The captain
himself, his staff raised, hurries towards these auxiliaries,
pointing to the spot where they are most needed. And there may be a
river into which horses are galloping, churning up the water all
round them into turbulent waves of foam and water, tossed into the
air and among the legs and bodies of the horses. And there must not
be a level spot that is not trampled with gore.
OF LIGHTING THE LOWER PARTS OF BODIES CLOSE TOGETHER, AS OF MEN IN
As to men and horses represented in battle, their different parts
will be dark in proportion as they are nearer to the ground on which
they stand. And this is proved by the sides of wells which grow
darker in proportion to their depth, the reason of which is that the
deepest part of the well sees and receives a smaller amount of the
luminous atmosphere than any other part.
And the pavement, if it be of the same colour as the legs of these
said men and horses, will always be more lighted and at a more
direct angle than the said legs &c.
OF THE WAY TO REPRESENT A NIGHT [SCENE].
That which is entirely bereft of light is all darkness; given a
night under these conditions and that you want to represent a night
scene,--arrange that there shall be a great fire, then the objects
which are nearest to this fire will be most tinged with its colour;
for those objects which are nearest to a coloured light participate
most in its nature; as therefore you give the fire a red colour, you
must make all the objects illuminated by it ruddy; while those which
are farther from the fire are more tinted by the black hue of night.
The figures which are seen against the fire look dark in the glare
of the firelight because that side of the objects which you see is
tinged by the darkness of the night and not by the fire; and those
who stand at the side are half dark and half red; while those who
are visible beyond the edges of the flame will be fully lighted by
the ruddy glow against a black background. As to their gestures,
make those which are near it screen themselves with their hands and
cloaks as a defence against the intense heat, and with their faces
turned away as if about to retire. Of those farther off represent
several as raising their hands to screen their eyes, hurt by the
Of depicting a tempest (605. 606).
Describe a wind on land and at sea. Describe a storm of rain.
HOW TO REPRESENT A TEMPEST.
If you wish to represent a tempest consider and arrange well its
effects as seen, when the wind, blowing over the face of the sea and
earth, removes and carries with it such things as are not fixed to
the general mass. And to represent the storm accurately you must
first show the clouds scattered and torn, and flying with the wind,
accompanied by clouds of sand blown up from the sea shore, and
boughs and leaves swept along by the strength and fury of the blast
and scattered with other light objects through the air. Trees and
plants must be bent to the ground, almost as if they would follow
the course of the gale, with their branches twisted out of their
natural growth and their leaves tossed and turned about [Footnote
11: See Pl. XL, No. 2.]. Of the men who are there some must have
fallen to the ground and be entangled in their garments, and hardly
to be recognized for the dust, while those who remain standing may
be behind some tree, with their arms round it that the wind may not
tear them away; others with their hands over their eyes for the
dust, bending to the ground with their clothes and hair streaming in
the wind. [Footnote 15: See Pl. XXXIV, the right hand lower sketch.]
Let the sea be rough and tempestuous and full of foam whirled among
the lofty waves, while the wind flings the lighter spray through the
stormy air, till it resembles a dense and swathing mist. Of the
ships that are therein some should be shown with rent sails and the
tatters fluttering through the air, with ropes broken and masts
split and fallen. And the ship itself lying in the trough of the sea
and wrecked by the fury of the waves with the men shrieking and
clinging to the fragments of the vessel. Make the clouds driven by
the impetuosity of the wind and flung against the lofty mountain
tops, and wreathed and torn like waves beating upon rocks; the air
itself terrible from the deep darkness caused by the dust and fog
and heavy clouds.
Of representing the deluge (607-609).
TO REPRESENT THE DELUGE.
The air was darkened by the heavy rain whose oblique descent driven
aslant by the rush of the winds, flew in drifts through the air not
otherwise than as we see dust, varied only by the straight lines of
the heavy drops of falling water. But it was tinged with the colour
of the fire kindled by the thunder-bolts by which the clouds were
rent and shattered; and whose flashes revealed the broad waters of
the inundated valleys, above which was seen the verdure of the
bending tree tops. Neptune will be seen in the midst of the water
with his trident, and  let AEolus with his winds be shown
entangling the trees floating uprooted, and whirling in the huge
waves. The horizon and the whole hemisphere were obscure, but lurid
from the flashes of the incessant lightning. Men and birds might be
seen crowded on the tall trees which remained uncovered by the
swelling waters, originators of the mountains which surround the
great abysses [Footnote 23: Compare Vol. II. No. 979.].
OF THE DELUGE AND HOW TO REPRESENT IT IN A PICTURE.
Let the dark and gloomy air be seen buffeted by the rush of contrary
winds and dense from the continued rain mingled with hail and
bearing hither and thither an infinite number of branches torn from
the trees and mixed with numberless leaves. All round may be seen
venerable trees, uprooted and stripped by the fury of the winds; and
fragments of mountains, already scoured bare by the torrents,
falling into those torrents and choking their valleys till the
swollen rivers overflow and submerge the wide lowlands and their
inhabitants. Again, you might have seen on many of the hill-tops
terrified animals of different kinds, collected together and subdued
to tameness, in company with men and women who had fled there with
their children. The waters which covered the fields, with their
waves were in great part strewn with tables, bedsteads, boats and
various other contrivances made from necessity and the fear of
death, on which were men and women with their children amid sounds
of lamentation and weeping, terrified by the fury of the winds which
with their tempestuous violence rolled the waters under and over and
about the bodies of the drowned. Nor was there any object lighter
than the water which was not covered with a variety of animals
which, having come to a truce, stood together in a frightened
crowd--among them wolves, foxes, snakes and others--fleing from
death. And all the waters dashing on their shores seemed to be
battling them with the blows of drowned bodies, blows which killed
those in whom any life remained . You might have seen
assemblages of men who, with weapons in their hands, defended the
small spots that remained to them against lions, wolves and beasts
of prey who sought safety there. Ah! what dreadful noises were heard
in the air rent by the fury of the thunder and the lightnings it
flashed forth, which darted from the clouds dealing ruin and
striking all that opposed its course. Ah! how many you might have
seen closing their ears with their hands to shut out the tremendous
sounds made in the darkened air by the raging of the winds mingling
with the rain, the thunders of heaven and the fury of the
thunder-bolts. Others were not content with shutting their eyes, but
laid their hands one over the other to cover them the closer that
they might not see the cruel slaughter of the human race by the
wrath of God. Ah! how many laments! and how many in their terror
flung themselves from the rocks! Huge branches of great oaks loaded
with men were seen borne through the air by the impetuous fury of
the winds. How many were the boats upset, some entire, and some
broken in pieces, on the top of people labouring to escape with
gestures and actions of grief foretelling a fearful death. Others,
with desperate act, took their own lives, hopeless of being able to
endure such suffering; and of these, some flung themselves from
lofty rocks, others strangled themselves with their own hands, other
seized their own children and violently slew them at a blow; some
wounded and killed themselves with their own weapons; others,
falling on their knees recommended themselves to God. Ah! how many
mothers wept over their drowned sons, holding them upon their knees,
with arms raised spread out towards heaven and with words and
various threatening gestures, upbraiding the wrath of the gods.
Others with clasped hands and fingers clenched gnawed them and
devoured them till they bled, crouching with their breast down on
their knees in their intense and unbearable anguish. Herds of
animals were to be seen, such as horses, oxen, goats and swine
already environed by the waters and left isolated on the high peaks
of the mountains, huddled together, those in the middle climbing to
the top and treading on the others, and fighting fiercely
themselves; and many would die for lack of food. Already had the
birds begun to settle on men and on other animals, finding no land
uncovered which was not occupied by living beings, and already had
famine, the minister of death, taken the lives of the greater number
of the animals, when the dead bodies, now fermented, where leaving
the depth of the waters and were rising to the top. Among the
buffeting waves, where they were beating one against the other, and,
like as balls full of air, rebounded from the point of concussion,
these found a resting place on the bodies of the dead. And above
these judgements, the air was seen covered with dark clouds, riven
by the forked flashes of the raging bolts of heaven, lighting up on
all sides the depth of the gloom.
The motion of the air is seen by the motion of the dust thrown up by
the horse's running and this motion is as swift in again filling up
the vacuum left in the air which enclosed the horse, as he is rapid
in passing away from the air.
Perhaps it will seem to you that you may reproach me with having
represented the currents made through the air by the motion of the
wind notwithstanding that the wind itself is not visible in the air.
To this I must answer that it is not the motion of the wind but only
the motion of the things carried along by it which is seen in the
THE DIVISIONS. [Footnote 76: These observations, added at the bottom
of the page containing the full description of the doluge seem to
indicate that it was Leonardo's intention to elaborate the subject
still farther in a separate treatise.]
Darkness, wind, tempest at sea, floods of water, forests on fire,
rain, bolts from heaven, earthquakes and ruins of mountains,
overthrow of cities [Footnote 81: _Spianamenti di citta_ (overthrow
of cities). A considerable number of drawings in black chalk, at
Windsor, illustrate this catastrophe. Most of them are much rubbed;
one of the least injured is reproduced at Pl. XXXIX. Compare also
the pen and ink sketch Pl. XXXVI.].
Whirlwinds which carry water [spouts] branches of trees, and men
through the air.
Boughs stripped off by the winds, mingling by the meeting of the
winds, with people upon them.
Broken trees loaded with people.
Ships broken to pieces, beaten on rocks.
Flocks of sheep. Hail stones, thunderbolts, whirlwinds.
People on trees which are unable to to support them; trees and
rocks, towers and hills covered with people, boats, tables, troughs,
and other means of floating. Hills covered with men, women and
animals; and lightning from the clouds illuminating every thing.
[Footnote: This chapter, which, with the next one, is written on a
loose sheet, seems to be the passage to which one of the compilers
of the Vatican copy alluded when he wrote on the margin of fol. 36:
"_Qua mi ricordo della mirabile discritione del Diluuio dello
autore._" It is scarcely necessary to point out that these chapters
are among those which have never before been published. The
description in No. 607 may be regarded as a preliminary sketch for
this one. As the MS. G. (in which it is to be found) must be
attributed to the period of about 1515 we may deduce from it the
approximate date of the drawings on Pl. XXXIV, XXXV, Nos. 2 and 3,
XXXVI and XXXVII, since they obviously belong to this text. The
drawings No. 2 on Pl. XXXV are, in the original, side by side with
the text of No. 608; lines 57 to 76 are shown in the facsimile. In
the drawing in Indian ink given on Pl. XXXIV we see Wind-gods in the
sky, corresponding to the allusion to Aeolus in No. 607 1.
15.-Plates XXXVI and XXXVII form one sheet in the original. The
texts reproduced on these Plates have however no connection with the
sketches, excepting the sketches of clouds on the right hand side.
These texts are given as No. 477. The group of small figures on Pl.
XXXVII, to the left, seems to be intended for a '_congregatione
d'uomini._' See No. 608, 1. 19.]
DESCRIPTION OF THE DELUGE.
Let there be first represented the summit of a rugged mountain with
valleys surrounding its base, and on its sides let the surface of
the soil be seen to slide, together with the small roots of the
bushes, denuding great portions of the surrounding rocks. And
descending ruinous from these precipices in its boisterous course,
let it dash along and lay bare the twisted and gnarled roots of
large trees overthrowing their roots upwards; and let the mountains,
as they are scoured bare, discover the profound fissures made in
them by ancient earthquakes. The base of the mountains may be in
great part clothed and covered with ruins of shrubs, hurled down
from the sides of their lofty peaks, which will be mixed with mud,
roots, boughs of trees, with all sorts of leaves thrust in with the
mud and earth and stones. And into the depth of some valley may have
fallen the fragments of a mountain forming a shore to the swollen
waters of its river; which, having already burst its banks, will
rush on in monstrous waves; and the greatest will strike upon and
destroy the walls of the cities and farmhouses in the valley .
Then the ruins of the high buildings in these cities will throw up a
great dust, rising up in shape like smoke or wreathed clouds against
the falling rain; But the swollen waters will sweep round the pool
which contains them striking in eddying whirlpools against the
different obstacles, and leaping into the air in muddy foam; then,
falling back, the beaten water will again be dashed into the air.
And the whirling waves which fly from the place of concussion, and
whose impetus moves them across other eddies going in a contrary
direction, after their recoil will be tossed up into the air but
without dashing off from the surface. Where the water issues from
the pool the spent waves will be seen spreading out towards the
outlet; and there falling or pouring through the air and gaining
weight and impetus they will strike on the water below piercing it
and rushing furiously to reach its depth; from which being thrown
back it returns to the surface of the lake, carrying up the air that
was submerged with it; and this remains at the outlet in foam
mingled with logs of wood and other matters lighter than water.
Round these again are formed the beginnings of waves which increase
the more in circumference as they acquire more movement; and this
movement rises less high in proportion as they acquire a broader
base and thus they are less conspicuous as they die away. But if
these waves rebound from various objects they then return in direct
opposition to the others following them, observing the same law of
increase in their curve as they have already acquired in the
movement they started with. The rain, as it falls from the clouds is
of the same colour as those clouds, that is in its shaded side;
unless indeed the sun's rays should break through them; in that case
the rain will appear less dark than the clouds. And if the heavy
masses of ruin of large mountains or of other grand buildings fall
into the vast pools of water, a great quantity will be flung into
the air and its movement will be in a contrary direction to that of
the object which struck the water; that is to say: The angle of
reflection will be equal to the angle of incidence. Of the objects
carried down by the current, those which are heaviest or rather
largest in mass will keep farthest from the two opposite shores. The
water in the eddies revolves more swiftly in proportion as it is
nearer to their centre. The crests of the waves of the sea tumble to
their bases falling with friction on the bubbles of their sides; and
this friction grinds the falling water into minute particles and
this being converted into a dense mist, mingles with the gale in the
manner of curling smoke and wreathing clouds, and at last it, rises
into the air and is converted into clouds. But the rain which falls
through the atmosphere being driven and tossed by the winds becomes
rarer or denser according to the rarity or density of the winds that
buffet it, and thus there is generated in the atmosphere a moisture
formed of the transparent particles of the rain which is near to the
eye of the spectator. The waves of the sea which break on the slope
of the mountains which bound it, will foam from the velocity with
which they fall against these hills; in rushing back they will meet
the next wave as it comes and and after a loud noise return in a
great flood to the sea whence they came. Let great numbers of
inhabitants--men and animals of all kinds--be seen driven  by
the rising of the deluge to the peaks of the mountains in the midst
of the waters aforesaid.
The wave of the sea at Piombino is all foaming water. [Footnote 55.
56: These two lines are written below the bottom sketch on Pl. XXXV,
3. The MS. Leic. being written about the year 1510 or later, it does
not seem to me to follow that the sketches must have been made at
Piombino, where Leonardo was in the year 1502 and possibly returned
there subsequently (see Vol. II. Topographical notes).]
Of the water which leaps up from the spot where great masses fall on
its surface. Of the winds of Piombino at Piombino. Eddies of wind
and rain with boughs and shrubs mixed in the air. Emptying the boats
of the rain water.
[Footnote: The sketches on Pl. XXXV 3 stand by the side of lines 14
Of depicting natural phenomena (610. 611).
The tremendous fury of the wind driven by the falling in of the
hills on the caves within--by the falling of the hills which served
as roofs to these caverns.
A stone flung through the air leaves on the eye which sees it the
impression of its motion, and the same effect is produced by the
drops of water which fall from the clouds when it  rains.
 A mountain falling on a town, will fling up dust in the form of
clouds; but the colour of this dust will differ from that of the
clouds. Where the rain is thickest let the colour of the dust be
less conspicuous and where the dust is thickest let the rain be less
conspicuous. And where the rain is mingled with the wind and with
the dust the clouds created by the rain must be more transparent
than those of dust [alone]. And when flames of fire are mingled with
clouds of smoke and water very opaque and dark clouds will be formed
[Footnote 26-28: Compare Pl. XL, 1--the drawing in Indian ink on the
left hand side, which seems to be a reminiscence of his observations
of an eruption (see his remarks on Mount Etna in Vol II).]. And the
rest of this subject will be treated in detail in the book on
[Footnote: See the sketches and text on Pl. XXXVIII, No. 1. Lines
1-16 are there given on the left hand side, 17-30 on the right. The
four lines at the bottom on the right are given as No. 472. Above
these texts, which are written backwards, there are in the original
sixteen lines in a larger writing from left to right, but only half
of this is here visible. They treat of the physical laws of motion
of air and water. It does not seem to me that there is any reason
for concluding that this writing from left to right is spurious.
Compare with it the facsimile of the rough copy of Leonardo's letter
to Ludovico il Moro in Vol. II.]
People were to be seen eagerly embarking victuals on various kinds
of hastily made barks. But little of the waves were visible in those
places where the dark clouds and rain were reflected.
But where the flashes caused by the bolts of heaven were reflected,
there were seen as many bright spots, caused by the image of the
flashes, as there were waves to reflect them to the eye of the
The number of the images produced by the flash of lightning on the
waves of the water were multiplied in proportion to the distance of
the spectator's eye.
So also the number of the images was diminished in proportion as
they were nearer the eye which saw them [Footnote 22. 23: _Com'e
provato_. See Vol. II, Nos. 874-878 and 892-901], as it has been
proved in the definition of the luminosity of the moon, and of our
marine horizon when the sun's rays are reflected in it and the eye
which receives the reflection is remote from the sea.
THE ARTIST'S MATERIALS.
Of chalk and paper (612--617).
To make points [crayons] for colouring dry. Temper with a little wax
and do not dry it; which wax you must dissolve with water: so that
when the white lead is thus tempered, the water being distilled, may
go off in vapour and the wax may remain; you will thus make good
crayons; but you must know that the colours must be ground with a
Chalk dissolves in wine and in vinegar or in aqua fortis and can be
recombined with gum.
PAPER FOR DRAWING UPON IN BLACK BY THE AID OF YOUR SPITTLE.
Take powdered gall nuts and vitriol, powder them and spread them on
paper like a varnish, then write on it with a pen wetted with
spittle and it will turn as black as ink.
If you want to make foreshortened letters stretch the paper in a
drawing frame and then draw your letters and cut them out, and make
the sunbeams pass through the holes on to another stretched paper,
and then fill up the angles that are wanting.
This paper should be painted over with candle soot tempered with
thin glue, then smear the leaf thinly with white lead in oil as is
done to the letters in printing, and then print in the ordinary way.
Thus the leaf will appear shaded in the hollows and lighted on the
parts in relief; which however comes out here just the contrary.
[Footnote: This text, which accompanies a facsimile impression of a
leaf of sage, has already been published in the _Saggio delle Opere
di L. da Vinci_, Milano 1872, p. 11. G. GOVI observes on this
passage: "_Forse aveva egli pensato ancora a farsi un erbario, od
almeno a riprodurre facilmente su carta le forme e i particolari
delle foglie di diverse piante; poiche (modificando un metodo che
probabilmente gli eia stato insegnato da altri, e che piu tardi si
legge ripetuto in molti ricettarii e libri di segreti), accanto a
una foglia di Salvia impressa in nero su carta bianca, lascio
scritto: Questa carta ...
Erano i primi tentativi di quella riproduzione immediata delle parti
vegetali, che poi sotto il nome d'Impressione Naturale, fu condotta
a tanta perfezione in questi ultimi tempi dal signor de Hauer e da
Very excellent will be a stiff white paper, made of the usual
mixture and filtered milk of an herb called calves foot; and when
this paper is prepared and damped and folded and wrapped up it may
be mixed with the mixture and thus left to dry; but if you break it
before it is moistened it becomes somewhat like the thin paste
called _lasagne_ and you may then damp it and wrap it up and put it
in the mixture and leave it to dry; or again this paper may be
covered with stiff transparent white and _sardonio_ and then damped
so that it may not form angles and then covered up with strong
transparent size and as soon as it is firm cut it two fingers, and
leave it to dry; again you may make stiff cardboard of _sardonio_
and dry it and then place it between two sheets of papyrus and break
it inside with a wooden mallet with a handle and then open it with
care holding the lower sheet of paper flat and firm so that the
broken pieces be not separated; then have a sheet of paper covered
with hot glue and apply it on the top of all these pieces and let
them stick fast; then turn it upside down and apply transparent size
several times in the spaces between the pieces, each time pouring in
first some black and then some stiff white and each time leaving it
to dry; then smooth it and polish it.
On the preparation and use of colours (618-627).
To make a fine green take green and mix it with bitumen and you will
make the shadows darker. Then, for lighter [shades] green with
yellow ochre, and for still lighter green with yellow, and for the
high lights pure yellow; then mix green and turmeric together and
glaze every thing with it. To make a fine red take cinnabar or red
chalk or burnt ochre for the dark shadows and for the lighter ones
red chalk and vermilion and for the lights pure vermilion and then
glaze with fine lake. To make good oil for painting. One part of
oil, one of the first refining and one of the second.
Use black in the shadow, and in the lights white, yellow, green,
vermilion and lake. Medium shadows; take the shadow as above and mix
it with the flesh tints just alluded to, adding to it a little
yellow and a little green and occasionally some lake; for the
shadows take green and lake for the middle shades.
[Footnote 618 and 619: If we may judge from the flourishes with
which the writing is ornamented these passages must have been
written in Leonardo's youth.]
You can make a fine ochre by the same method as you use to make
A FINE YELLOW.
Dissolve realgar with one part of orpiment, with aqua fortis.
Put the white into an earthen pot, and lay it no thicker than a
string, and let it stand in the sun undisturbed for 2 days; and in
the morning when the sun has dried off the night dews.
To make reddish black for flesh tints take red rock crystals from
Rocca Nova or garnets and mix them a little; again armenian bole is
good in part.
The shadow will be burnt ,terra-verte'.
THE PROPORTIONS OF COLOURS.
If one ounce of black mixed with one ounce of white gives a certain
shade of darkness, what shade of darkness will be produced by 2
ounces of black to 1 ounce of white?
Remix black, greenish yellow and at the end blue.
Verdigris with aloes, or gall or turmeric makes a fine green and so
it does with saffron or burnt orpiment; but I doubt whether in a
short time they will not turn black. Ultramarine blue and glass
yellow mixed together make a beautiful green for fresco, that is
wall-painting. Lac and verdigris make a good shadow for blue in oil
Grind verdigris many times coloured with lemon juice and keep it
away from yellow (?).
Of preparing the panel.
TO PREPARE A PANEL FOR PAINTING ON.
The panel should be cypress or pear or service-tree or walnut. You
must coat it over with mastic and turpentine twice distilled and
white or, if you like, lime, and put it in a frame so that it may
expand and shrink according to its moisture and dryness. Then give
it [a coat] of aqua vitae in which you have dissolved arsenic or
[corrosive] sublimate, 2 or 3 times. Then apply boiled linseed oil
in such a way as that it may penetrate every part, and before it is
cold rub it well with a cloth to dry it. Over this apply liquid
varnish and white with a stick, then wash it with urine when it is
dry, and dry it again. Then pounce and outline your drawing finely
and over it lay a priming of 30 parts of verdigris with one of
verdigris with two of yellow.
[Footnote: M. RAVAISSON'S reading varies from mine in the following
1._opero allor [?] bo [alloro?]_ = "_ou bien de [laurier]_."
6. _fregalo bene con un panno_. He reads _pane_ for _panno_ and
renders it. "_Frotte le bien avec un pain de facon [jusqu'a ce]
7. _colla stecca po laua_. He reads "_polacca_" = "_avec le couteau
de bois [?] polonais [?]_."]
The preparation of oils (629--634).
Make some oil of mustard seed; and if you wish to make it with
greater ease mix the ground seeds with linseed oil and put it all
under the press.
TO REMOVE THE SMELL OF OIL.
Take the rank oil and put ten pints into a jar and make a mark on
the jar at the height of the oil; then add to it a pint of vinegar
and make it boil till the oil has sunk to the level of the mark and
thus you will be certain that the oil is returned to its original
quantity and the vinegar will have gone off in vapour, carrying with
it the evil smell; and I believe you may do the same with nut oil or
any other oil that smells badly.
Since walnuts are enveloped in a thin rind, which partakes of the
nature of ..., if you do not remove it when you make the oil from
them, this skin tinges the oil, and when you work with it this skin
separates from the oil and rises to the surface of the painting, and
this is what makes it change.
TO RESTORE OIL COLOURS THAT HAVE BECOME DRY.
If you want to restore oil colours that have become dry keep them
soaking in soft soap for a night and, with your finger, mix them up
with the soft soap; then pour them into a cup and wash them with
water, and in this way you can restore colours that have got dry.
But take care that each colour has its own vessel to itself adding
the colour by degrees as you restore it and mind that they are
thoroughly softened, and when you wish to use them for tempera wash
them five and six times with spring water, and leave them to settle;
if the soft soap should be thick with any of the colours pass it
through a filter. [Footnote: The same remark applies to these
sections as to No. 618 and 619.]
Mustard seed pounded with linseed oil.
... outside the bowl 2 fingers lower than the level of the oil, and
pass it into the neck of a bottle and let it stand and thus all the
oil will separate from this milky liquid; it will enter the bottle
and be as clear as crystal; and grind your colours with this, and
every coarse or viscid part will remain in the liquid. You must know
that all the oils that have been created in seads or fruits are
quite clear by nature, and the yellow colour you see in them only
comes of your not knowing how to draw it out. Fire or heat by its
nature has the power to make them acquire colour. See for example
the exudation or gums of trees which partake of the nature of rosin;
in a short time they harden because there is more heat in them than
in oil; and after some time they acquire a certain yellow hue
tending to black. But oil, not having so much heat does not do so;
although it hardens to some extent into sediment it becomes finer.
The change in oil which occurs in painting proceeds from a certain
fungus of the nature of a husk which exists in the skin which covers
the nut, and this being crushed along with the nuts and being of a
nature much resembling oil mixes with it; it is of so subtle a
nature that it combines with all colours and then comes to the
surface, and this it is which makes them change. And if you want the
oil to be good and not to thicken, put into it a little camphor
melted over a slow fire and mix it well with the oil and it will
[Footnote: The same remark applies to these sections as to No. 618
On varnishes [or powders] (635-637).
VARNISH [OR POWDER].
Take cypress [oil] and distil it and have a large pitcher, and put
in the extract with so much water as may make it appear like amber,
and cover it tightly so that none may evaporate. And when it is
dissolved you may add in your pitcher as much of the said solution,
as shall make it liquid to your taste. And you must know that amber
is the gum of the cypress-tree.
VARNISH [OR POWDER].
And since varnish [powder] is the resin of juniper, if you distil
juniper you can dissolve the said varnish [powder] in the essence,
as explained above.
VARNISH [OR POWDER].
Notch a juniper tree and give it water at the roots, mix the liquor
which exudes with nut-oil and you will have a perfect varnish
[powder], made like amber varnish [powder], fine and of the best
quality make it in May or April.
VARNISH [OR POWDER].
Mercury with Jupiter and Venus,--a paste made of these must be
corrected by the mould (?) continuously, until Mercury separates
itself entirely from Jupiter and Venus. [Footnote: Here, and in No.
641 _Mercurio_ seems to mean quicksilver, _Giove_ stands for iron,
_Venere_ for copper and _Saturno_ for lead.]
On chemical materials (638-650).
Note how aqua vitae absorbs into itself all the colours and smells
of flowers. If you want to make blue put iris flowers into it and
for red solanum berries (?)
Salt may be made from human excrement burnt and calcined and made
into lees, and dried by a slow fire, and all dung in like manner
yields salt, and these salts when distilled are very pungent.
Sea water filtered through mud or clay, leaves all its saltness in
it. Woollen stuffs placed on board ship absorb fresh water. If sea
water is distilled under a retort it becomes of the first excellence
and any one who has a little stove in his kitchen can, with the same
wood as he cooks with, distil a great quantity of water if the
retort is a large one.
The mould (?) may be of Venus, or of Jupiter and Saturn and placed
frequently in the fire. And it should be worked with fine emery and
the mould (?) should be of Venus and Jupiter impasted over (?)
Venus. But first you will test Venus and Mercury mixed with Jove,
and take means to cause Mercury to disperse; and then fold them well
together so that Venus or Jupiter be connected as thinly as
[Footnote: See the note to 637.]
Nitre, vitriol, cinnabar, alum, salt ammoniac, sublimated mercury,
rock salt, alcali salt, common salt, rock alum, alum schist (?),
arsenic, sublimate, realgar, tartar, orpiment, verdegris.
Pitch four ounces virgin wax, four ounces incense, two ounces oil of
roses one ounce.
Four ounces virgin wax, four ounces Greek pitch, two ounces incense,
one ounce oil of roses, first melt the wax and oil then the Greek
pitch then the other things in powder.
Very thin glass may be cut with scissors and when placed over inlaid
work of bone, gilt, or stained of other colours you can saw it
through together with the bone and then put it together and it will
retain a lustre that will not be scratched nor worn away by rubbing
with the hand.
TO DILUTE WHITE WINE AND MAKE IT PURPLE.
Powder gall nuts and let this stand 8 days in the white wine; and in
the same way dissolve vitriol in water, and let the water stand and
settle very clear, and the wine likewise, each by itself, and strain
them well; and when you dilute the white wine with the water the
wine will become red.
Put marcasite into aqua fortis and if it turns green, know that it
has copper in it. Take it out with saltpetre and soft soap.
A white horse may have the spots removed with the Spanish haematite
or with aqua fortis or with ... Removes the black hair on a white
horse with the singeing iron. Force him to the ground.
If you want to make a fire which will set a hall in a blaze without
injury do this: first perfume the hall with a dense smoke of incense
or some other odoriferous substance: It is a good trick to play. Or
boil ten pounds of brandy to evaporate, but see that the hall is
completely closed and throw up some powdered varnish among the fumes
and this powder will be supported by the smoke; then go into the
room suddenly with a lighted torch and at once it will be in a
Take away that yellow surface which covers oranges and distill them
in an alembic, until the distillation may be said to be perfect.
Close a room tightly and have a brasier of brass or iron with fire
in it and sprinkle on it two pints of aqua vitae, a little at a
time, so that it may be converted into smoke. Then make some one
come in with a light and suddenly you will see the room in a blaze
like a flash of lightning, and it will do no harm to any one.
PHILOSOPHY AND HISTORY OF THE ART OF PAINTING.
The relation of art and nature (651. 652).
What is fair in men, passes away, but not so in art.
HE WHO DESPISES PAINTING LOVES NEITHER PHILOSOPHY NOR NATURE.
If you condemn painting, which is the only imitator of all visible
works of nature, you will certainly despise a subtle invention which
brings philosophy and subtle speculation to the consideration of the
nature of all forms--seas and plains, trees, animals, plants and
flowers--which are surrounded by shade and light. And this is true
knowledge and the legitimate issue of nature; for painting is born
of nature--or, to speak more correctly, we will say it is the
grandchild of nature; for all visible things are produced by nature,
and these her children have given birth to painting. Hence we may
justly call it the grandchild of nature and related to God.
Painting is superior to poetry (653. 654).
THAT PAINTING SURPASSES ALL HUMAN WORKS BY THE SUBTLE CONSIDERATIONS
BELONGING TO IT.
The eye, which is called the window of the soul, is the principal
means by which the central sense can most completely and abundantly
appreciate the infinite works of nature; and the ear is the second,
which acquires dignity by hearing of the things the eye has seen. If
you, historians, or poets, or mathematicians had not seen things
with your eyes you could not report of them in writing. And if you,
0 poet, tell a story with your pen, the painter with his brush can
tell it more easily, with simpler completeness and less tedious to
be understood. And if you call painting dumb poetry, the painter may
call poetry blind painting. Now which is the worse defect? to be
blind or dumb? Though the poet is as free as the painter in the
invention of his fictions they are not so satisfactory to men as
paintings; for, though poetry is able to describe forms, actions and
places in words, the painter deals with the actual similitude of the
forms, in order to represent them. Now tell me which is the nearer
to the actual man: the name of man or the image of the man. The name
of man differs in different countries, but his form is never changed
but by death.
And if the poet gratifies the sense by means of the ear, the painter
does so by the eye--the worthier sense; but I will say no more of
this but that, if a good painter represents the fury of a battle,
and if a poet describes one, and they are both together put before
the public, you will see where most of the spectators will stop, to
which they will pay most attention, on which they will bestow most
praise, and which will satisfy them best. Undoubtedly painting being
by a long way the more intelligible and beautiful, will please most.
Write up the name of God [Christ] in some spot and setup His image
opposite and you will see which will be most reverenced. Painting
comprehends in itself all the forms of nature, while you have
nothing but words, which are not universal as form is, and if you
have the effects of the representation, we have the representation
of the effects. Take a poet who describes the beauty of a lady to
her lover and a painter who represents her and you will see to which
nature guides the enamoured critic. Certainly the proof should be
allowed to rest on the verdict of experience. You have ranked
painting among the mechanical arts but, in truth, if painters were
as apt at praising their own works in writing as you are, it would
not lie under the stigma of so base a name. If you call it
mechanical because it is, in the first place, manual, and that it is
the hand which produces what is to be found in the imagination, you
too writers, who set down manually with the pen what is devised in
your mind. And if you say it is mechanical because it is done for
money, who falls into this error--if error it can be called--more
than you? If you lecture in the schools do you not go to whoever
pays you most? Do you do any work without pay? Still, I do not say
this as blaming such views, for every form of labour looks for its
reward. And if a poet should say: "I will invent a fiction with a
great purpose," the painter can do the same, as Apelles painted
Calumny. If you were to say that poetry is more eternal, I say the
works of a coppersmith are more eternal still, for time preserves
them longer than your works or ours; nevertheless they have not much
imagination . And a picture, if painted on copper with enamel
colours may be yet more permanent. We, by our arts may be called the
grandsons of God. If poetry deals with moral philosophy, painting
deals with natural philosophy. Poetry describes the action of the
mind, painting considers what the mind may effect by the motions [of
the body]. If poetry can terrify people by hideous fictions,
painting can do as much by depicting the same things in action.
Supposing that a poet applies himself to represent beauty, ferocity,
or a base, a foul or a monstrous thing, as against a painter, he may
in his ways bring forth a variety of forms; but will the painter not
satisfy more? are there not pictures to be seen, so like the actual
things, that they deceive men and animals?
Painting is superior to sculpture (655. 656).
THAT SCULPTURE IS LESS INTELLECTUAL THAN PAINTING, AND LACKS MANY
CHARACTERISTICS OF NATURE.
I myself, having exercised myself no less in sculpture than in
painting and doing both one and the other in the same degree, it
seems to me that I can, without invidiousness, pronounce an opinion
as to which of the two is of the greatest merit and difficulty and
perfection. In the first place sculpture requires a certain light,
that is from above, a picture carries everywhere with it its own
light and shade. Thus sculpture owes its importance to light and
shade, and the sculptor is aided in this by the nature, of the
relief which is inherent in it, while the painter whose art
expresses the accidental aspects of nature, places his effects in
the spots where nature must necessarily produce them. The sculptor
cannot diversify his work by the various natural colours of objects;
painting is not defective in any particular. The sculptor when he
uses perspective cannot make it in any way appear true; that of the
painter can appear like a hundred miles beyond the picture itself.
Their works have no aerial perspective whatever, they cannot
represent transparent bodies, they cannot represent luminous bodies,