Part 2 out of 16
[Footnote: 77. 2. In the first of the three diagrams Leonardo had
drawn only one of the two margins, et _m_.]
Necessity has provided that all the images of objects in front of
the eye shall intersect in two places. One of these intersections is
in the pupil, the other in the crystalline lens; and if this were
not the case the eye could not see so great a number of objects as
it does. This can be proved, since all the lines which intersect do
so in a point. Because nothing is seen of objects excepting their
surface; and their edges are lines, in contradistinction to the
definition of a surface. And each minute part of a line is equal to
a point; for _smallest_ is said of that than which nothing can be
smaller, and this definition is equivalent to the definition of the
point. Hence it is possible for the whole circumference of a circle
to transmit its image to the point of intersection, as is shown in
the 4th of this which shows: all the smallest parts of the images
cross each other without interfering with each other. These
demonstrations are to illustrate the eye. No image, even of the
smallest object, enters the eye without being turned upside down;
but as it penetrates into the crystalline lens it is once more
reversed and thus the image is restored to the same position within
the eye as that of the object outside the eye.
OF THE CENTRAL LINE OF THE EYE.
Only one line of the image, of all those that reach the visual
virtue, has no intersection; and this has no sensible dimensions
because it is a mathematical line which originates from a
mathematical point, which has no dimensions.
According to my adversary, necessity requires that the central line
of every image that enters by small and narrow openings into a dark
chamber shall be turned upside down, together with the images of the
bodies that surround it.
AS TO WHETHER THE CENTRAL LINE OF THE IMAGE CAN BE INTERSECTED, OR
NOT, WITHIN THE OPENING.
It is impossible that the line should intersect itself; that is,
that its right should cross over to its left side, and so, its left
side become its right side. Because such an intersection demands two
lines, one from each side; for there can be no motion from right to
left or from left to right in itself without such extension and
thickness as admit of such motion. And if there is extension it is
no longer a line but a surface, and we are investigating the
properties of a line, and not of a surface. And as the line, having
no centre of thickness cannot be divided, we must conclude that the
line can have no sides to intersect each other. This is proved by
the movement of the line _a f_ to _a b_ and of the line _e b_ to _e
f_, which are the sides of the surface _a f e b_. But if you move
the line _a b_ and the line _e f_, with the frontends _a e_, to the
spot _c_, you will have moved the opposite ends _f b_ towards each
other at the point _d_. And from the two lines you will have drawn
the straight line _c d_ which cuts the middle of the intersection of
these two lines at the point _n_ without any intersection. For, you
imagine these two lines as having breadth, it is evident that by
this motion the first will entirely cover the other--being equal
with it--without any intersection, in the position _c d_. And this
is sufficient to prove our proposition.
HOW THE INNUMERABLE RAYS FROM INNUMERABLE IMAGES CAN CONVERGE TO A
Just as all lines can meet at a point without interfering with each
other--being without breadth or thickness--in the same way all the
images of surfaces can meet there; and as each given point faces the
object opposite to it and each object faces an opposite point, the
converging rays of the image can pass through the point and diverge
again beyond it to reproduce and re-magnify the real size of that
image. But their impressions will appear reversed--as is shown in
the first, above; where it is said that every image intersects as it
enters the narrow openings made in a very thin substance.
Read the marginal text on the other side.
In proportion as the opening is smaller than the shaded body, so
much less will the images transmitted through this opening intersect
each other. The sides of images which pass through openings into a
dark room intersect at a point which is nearer to the opening in
proportion as the opening is narrower. To prove this let _a b_ be an
object in light and shade which sends not its shadow but the image
of its darkened form through the opening _d e_ which is as wide as
this shaded body; and its sides _a b_, being straight lines (as has
been proved) must intersect between the shaded object and the
opening; but nearer to the opening in proportion as it is smaller
than the object in shade. As is shown, on your right hand and your
left hand, in the two diagrams _a_ _b_ _c_ _n_ _m_ _o_ where, the
right opening _d_ _e_, being equal in width to the shaded object _a_
_b_, the intersection of the sides of the said shaded object occurs
half way between the opening and the shaded object at the point _c_.
But this cannot happen in the left hand figure, the opening _o_
being much smaller than the shaded object _n_ _m_.
It is impossible that the images of objects should be seen between
the objects and the openings through which the images of these
bodies are admitted; and this is plain, because where the atmosphere
is illuminated these images are not formed visibly.
When the images are made double by mutually crossing each other they
are invariably doubly as dark in tone. To prove this let _d_ _e_ _h_
be such a doubling which although it is only seen within the space
between the bodies in _b_ and _i_ this will not hinder its being
seen from _f_ _g_ or from _f_ _m_; being composed of the images _a_
_b_ _i_ _k_ which run together in _d_ _e_ _h_.
[Footnote: 81. On the original diagram at the beginning of this
chapter Leonardo has written "_azurro_" (blue) where in the
facsimile I have marked _A_, and "_giallo_" (yellow) where _B_
[Footnote: 15--23. These lines stand between the diagrams I and III.]
[Footnote: 24--53. These lines stand between the diagrams I and II.]
[Footnote: 54--97 are written along the left side of diagram I.]
An experiment showing that though the pupil may not be moved from
its position the objects seen by it may appear to move from their
If you look at an object at some distance from you and which is
below the eye, and fix both your eyes upon it and with one hand
firmly hold the upper lid open while with the other you push up the
under lid--still keeping your eyes fixed on the object gazed at--you
will see that object double; one [image] remaining steady, and the
other moving in a contrary direction to the pressure of your finger
on the lower eyelid. How false the opinion is of those who say that
this happens because the pupil of the eye is displaced from its
How the above mentioned facts prove that the pupil acts upside down
[Footnote: 82. 14--17. The subject indicated by these two headings is
fully discussed in the two chapters that follow them in the
original; but it did not seem to me appropriate to include them
Demostration of perspective by means of a vertical glass plane
OF THE PLANE OF GLASS.
Perspective is nothing else than seeing place [or objects] behind a
plane of glass, quite transparent, on the surface of which the
objects behind that glass are to be drawn. These can be traced in
pyramids to the point in the eye, and these pyramids are intersected
on the glass plane.
Pictorial perspective can never make an object at the same distance,
look of the same size as it appears to the eye. You see that the
apex of the pyramid _f c d_ is as far from the object _c_ _d_ as the
same point _f_ is from the object _a_ _b_; and yet _c_ _d_, which is
the base made by the painter's point, is smaller than _a_ _b_ which
is the base of the lines from the objects converging in the eye and
refracted at _s_ _t_, the surface of the eye. This may be proved by
experiment, by the lines of vision and then by the lines of the
painter's plumbline by cutting the real lines of vision on one and
the same plane and measuring on it one and the same object.
The vertical plane is a perpendicular line, imagined as in front of
the central point where the apex of the pyramids converge. And this
plane bears the same relation to this point as a plane of glass
would, through which you might see the various objects and draw them
on it. And the objects thus drawn would be smaller than the
originals, in proportion as the distance between the glass and the
eye was smaller than that between the glass and the objects.
The different converging pyramids produced by the objects, will
show, on the plane, the various sizes and remoteness of the objects
All those horizontal planes of which the extremes are met by
perpendicular lines forming right angles, if they are of equal width
the more they rise to the level of eye the less this is seen, and
the more the eye is above them the more will their real width be
The farther a spherical body is from the eye the more you will see
The angle of sight varies with the distance (86-88)
A simple and natural method; showing how objects appear to the eye
without any other medium.
The object that is nearest to the eye always seems larger than
another of the same size at greater distance. The eye _m_, seeing
the spaces _o v x_, hardly detects the difference between them, and
the. reason of this is that it is close to them [Footnote 6: It is
quite inconceivable to me why M. RAVAISSON, in a note to his French
translation of this simple passage should have remarked: _Il est
clair que c'est par erreur que Leonard a ècrit_ per esser visino _au
lieu de_ per non esser visino. (See his printed ed. of MS. A. p.
38.)]; but if these spaces are marked on the vertical plane _n o_
the space _o v_ will be seen at _o r_, and in the same way the space
_v x_ will appear at _r q_. And if you carry this out in any place
where you can walk round, it will look out of proportion by reason
of the great difference in the spaces _o r_ and _r q_. And this
proceeds from the eye being so much below [near] the plane that the
plane is foreshortened. Hence, if you wanted to carry it out, you
would have [to arrange] to see the perspective through a single hole
which must be at the point _m_, or else you must go to a distance of
at least 3 times the height of the object you see. The plane _o p_
being always equally remote from the eye will reproduce the objects
in a satisfactory way, so that they may be seen from place to place.
How every large mass sends forth its images, which may diminish
The images of any large mass being infinitely divisible may be
Objects of equal size, situated in various places, will be seen by
different pyramids which will each be smaller in proportion as the
object is farther off.
Perspective, in dealing with distances, makes use of two opposite
pyramids, one of which has its apex in the eye and the base as
distant as the horizon. The other has the base towards the eye and
the apex on the horizon. Now, the first includes the [visible]
universe, embracing all the mass of the objects that lie in front of
the eye; as it might be a vast landscape seen through a very small
opening; for the more remote the objects are from the eye, the
greater number can be seen through the opening, and thus the pyramid
is constructed with the base on the horizon and the apex in the eye,
as has been said. The second pyramid is extended to a spot which is
smaller in proportion as it is farther from the eye; and this second
perspective [= pyramid] results from the first.
Simple perspective is that which is constructed by art on a vertical
plane which is equally distant from the eye in every part. Complex
perspective is that which is constructed on a ground-plan in which
none of the parts are equally distant from the eye.
No surface can be seen exactly as it is, if the eye that sees it is
not equally remote from all its edges.
WHY WHEN AN OBJECT IS PLACED CLOSE TO THE EYE ITS EDGES ARE
When an object opposite the eye is brought too close to it, its
edges must become too confused to be distinguished; as it happens
with objects close to a light, which cast a large and indistinct
shadow, so is it with an eye which estimates objects opposite to it;
in all cases of linear perspective, the eye acts in the same way as
the light. And the reason is that the eye has one leading line (of
vision) which dilates with distance and embraces with true
discernment large objects at a distance as well as small ones that
are close. But since the eye sends out a multitude of lines which
surround this chief central one and since these which are farthest
from the centre in this cone of lines are less able to discern with
accuracy, it follows that an object brought close to the eye is not
at a due distance, but is too near for the central line to be able
to discern the outlines of the object. So the edges fall within the
lines of weaker discerning power, and these are to the function of
the eye like dogs in the chase which can put up the game but cannot
take it. Thus these cannot take in the objects, but induce the
central line of sight to turn upon them, when they have put them up.
Hence the objects which are seen with these lines of sight have
The relative size of objects with regard to their distance from the
Small objects close at hand and large ones at a distance, being seen
within equal angles, will appear of the same size.
There is no object so large but that at a great distance from the
eye it does not appear smaller than a smaller object near.
Among objects of equal size that which is most remote from the eye
will look the smallest. [Footnote: This axiom, sufficiently clear in
itself, is in the original illustrated by a very large diagram,
constructed like that here reproduced under No. 108.
The same idea is repeated in C. A. I a; I a, stated as follows:
_Infra le cose d'equal grandeza quella si dimostra di minor figura
che sara più distante dall' ochio_.--]
Why an object is less distinct when brought near to the eye, and why
with spectacles, or without the naked eye sees badly either close or
far off [as the case may be].
Among objects of equal size, that which is most remote from the eye
will look the smallest.
No second object can be so much lower than the first as that the eye
will not see it higher than the first, if the eye is above the
And this second object will never be so much higher than the first
as that the eye, being below them, will not see the second as lower
than the first.
If the eye sees a second square through the centre of a smaller one,
that is nearer, the second, larger square will appear to be
surrounded by the smaller one.
Objects that are farther off can never be so large but that those in
front, though smaller, will conceal or surround them.
This proposition can be proved by experiment. For if you look
through a small hole there is nothing so large that it cannot be
seen through it and the object so seen appears surrounded and
enclosed by the outline of the sides of the hole. And if you stop it
up, this small stopping will conceal the view of the largest object.
The apparent size of objects defined by calculation (99-105)
OF LINEAR PERSPECTIVE.
Linear Perspective deals with the action of the lines of sight, in
proving by measurement how much smaller is a second object than the
first, and how much the third is smaller than the second; and so on
by degrees to the end of things visible. I find by experience that
if a second object is as far beyond the first as the first is from
the eye, although they are of the same size, the second will seem
half the size of the first and if the third object is of the same
size as the 2nd, and the 3rd is as far beyond the second as the 2nd
from the first, it will appear of half the size of the second; and
so on by degrees, at equal distances, the next farthest will be half
the size of the former object. So long as the space does not exceed
the length of 20 braccia. But, beyond 20 braccia figures of equal
size will lose 2/4 and at 40 braccia they will lose 9/10, and 19/20
at 60 braccia, and so on diminishing by degrees. This is if the
picture plane is distant from you twice your own height. If it is
only as far off as your own height, there will be a great difference
between the first braccia and the second.
[Footnote: This chapter is included in DUFRESNE'S and MANZI'S
editions of the Treatise on Painting. H. LUDWIG, in his commentary,
calls this chapter "_eines der wichtigsten im ganzen Tractat_", but
at the same time he asserts that its substance has been so
completely disfigured in the best MS. copies that we ought not to
regard Leonardo as responsible for it. However, in the case of this
chapter, the old MS. copies agree with the original as it is
reproduced above. From the chapters given later in this edition,
which were written at a subsequent date, it would appear that
Leonardo corrected himself on these points.]
OF THE DIMINUTION OF OBJECTS AT VARIOUS DISTANCES.
A second object as far distant from the first as the first is from
the eye will appear half the size of the first, though they be of
the same size really.
OF THE DEGREES OF DIMINUTION.
If you place the vertical plane at one braccio from the eye, the
first object, being at a distance of 4 braccia from your eye will
diminish to 3/4 of its height at that plane; and if it is 8 braccia
from the eye, to 7/8; and if it is 16 braccia off, it will diminish
to 15/16 of its height and so on by degrees, as the space doubles
the diminution will double.
Begin from the line _m f_ with the eye below; then go up and do the
same with the line _n f_, then with the eye above and close to the 2
gauges on the ground look at _m n_; then as _c m_ is to _m n_ so
will _n m_ be to _n s_.
If _a n_ goes 3 times into _f b, m p_ will do the same into _p g_.
Then go backwards so far as that _c d_ goes twice into _a n_ and _p
g_ will be equal to _g h_. And _m p_ will go into _h p_ as often as
_d c_ into _o p_.
[Footnote: The first three lines are unfortunately very obscure.]
I GIVE THE DEGREES OF THE OBJECTS SEEN BY THE EYE AS THE MUSICIAN
DOES THE NOTES HEARD BY THE EAR.
Although the objects seen by the eye do, in fact, touch each other
as they recede, I will nevertheless found my rule on spaces of 20
braccia each; as a musician does with notes, which, though they can
be carried on one into the next, he divides into degrees from note
to note calling them 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th; and has affixed a name
to each degree in raising or lowering the voice.
Let _f_ be the level and distance of the eye; and _a_ the vertical
plane, as high as a man; let _e_ be a man, then I say that on the
plane this will be the distance from the plane to the 2nd man.
The differences in the diminution of objects of equal size in
consequence of their various remoteness from the eye will bear among
themselves the same proportions as those of the spaces between the
eye and the different objects.
Find out how much a man diminishes at a certain distance and what
its length is; and then at twice that distance and at 3 times, and
so make your general rule.
The eye cannot judge where an object high up ought to descend.
If two similar and equal objects are placed one beyond the other at
a given distance the difference in their size will appear greater in
proportion as they are nearer to the eye that sees them. And
conversely there will seem to be less difference in their size in
proportion as they are remote from the eve.
This is proved by the proportions of their distances among
themselves; for, if the first of these two objects were as far from
the eye, as the 2nd from the first this would be called the second
proportion: since, if the first is at 1 braccia from the eye and the
2nd at two braccia, two being twice as much as one, the first object
will look twice as large as the second. But if you place the first
at a hundred braccia from you and the second at a hundred and one,
you will find that the first is only so much larger than the second
as 100 is less than 101; and the converse is equally true. And
again, the same thing is proved by the 4th of this book which shows
that among objects that are equal, there is the same proportion in
the diminution of the size as in the increase in the distance from
the eye of the spectator.
On natural perspective (107--109).
OF EQUAL OBJECTS THE MOST REMOTE LOOK THE SMALLEST.
The practice of perspective may be divided into ... parts [Footnote
4: _in_ ... _parte_. The space for the number is left blank in the
original.], of which the first treats of objects seen by the eye at
any distance; and it shows all these objects just as the eye sees
them diminished, without obliging a man to stand in one place rather
than another so long as the plane does not produce a second
But the second practice is a combination of perspective derived
partly from art and partly from nature and the work done by its
rules is in every portion of it, influenced by natural perspective
and artificial perspective. By natural perspective I mean that the
plane on which this perspective is represented is a flat surface,
and this plane, although it is parallel both in length and height,
is forced to diminish in its remoter parts more than in its nearer
ones. And this is proved by the first of what has been said above,
and its diminution is natural. But artificial perspective, that is
that which is devised by art, does the contrary; for objects equal
in size increase on the plane where it is foreshortened in
proportion as the eye is more natural and nearer to the plane, and
as the part of the plane on which it is figured is farther from the
And let this plane be _d e_ on which are seen 3 equal circles which
are beyond this plane _d e_, that is the circles _a b c_. Now you
see that the eye _h_ sees on the vertical plane the sections of the
images, largest of those that are farthest and smallest of the
Here follows what is wanting in the margin at the foot on the other
side of this page.
Natural perspective acts in a contrary way; for, at greater
distances the object seen appears smaller, and at a smaller distance
the object appears larger. But this said invention requires the
spectator to stand with his eye at a small hole and then, at that
small hole, it will be very plain. But since many (men's) eyes
endeavour at the same time to see one and the same picture produced
by this artifice only one can see clearly the effect of this
perspective and all the others will see confusion. It is well
therefore to avoid such complex perspective and hold to simple
perspective which does not regard planes as foreshortened, but as
much as possible in their proper form. This simple perspective, in
which the plane intersects the pyramids by which the images are
conveyed to the eye at an equal distance from the eye is our
constant experience, from the curved form of the pupil of the eye on
which the pyramids are intersected at an equal distance from the
[Footnote 24: _la prima di sopra_ i. e. the first of the three
diagrams which, in the original MS., are placed in the margin at the
beginning of this chapter.]
OF A MIXTURE OF NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL PERSPECTIVE.
This diagram distinguishes natural from artificial perspective. But
before proceeding any farther I will define what is natural and what
is artificial perspective. Natural perspective says that the more
remote of a series of objects of equal size will look the smaller,
and conversely, the nearer will look the larger and the apparent
size will diminish in proportion to the distance. But in artificial
perspective when objects of unequal size are placed at various
distances, the smallest is nearer to the eye than the largest and
the greatest distance looks as though it were the least of all; and
the cause of this is the plane on which the objects are represented;
and which is at unequal distances from the eye throughout its
length. And this diminution of the plane is natural, but the
perspective shown upon it is artificial since it nowhere agrees with
the true diminution of the said plane. Whence it follows, that when
the eye is somewhat removed from the [station point of the]
perspective that it has been gazing at, all the objects represented
look monstrous, and this does not occur in natural perspective,
which has been defined above. Let us say then, that the square _a b
c d_ figured above is foreshortened being seen by the eye situated
in the centre of the side which is in front. But a mixture of
artificial and natural perspective will be seen in this tetragon
called _el main_ [Footnote 20: _el main_ is quite legibly written in
the original; the meaning and derivation of the word are equally
doubtful.], that is to say _e f g h_ which must appear to the eye of
the spectator to be equal to _a b c d_ so long as the eye remains in
its first position between _c_ and _d_. And this will be seen to
have a good effect, because the natural perspective of the plane
will conceal the defects which would [otherwise] seem monstrous.
_Six books on Light and Shade._
_Linear Perspective cannot be immediately followed by either the_
"prospettiva de' perdimenti" _or the_ "prospettiva de' colori" _or
the aerial perspective; since these branches of the subject
presuppose a knowledge of the principles of Light and Shade. No
apology, therefore, is here needed for placing these immediately
after Linear Perspective._
_We have various plans suggested by Leonardo for the arrangement of
the mass of materials treating of this subject. Among these I have
given the preference to a scheme propounded in No._ III, _because,
in all probability, we have here a final and definite purpose
expressed. Several authors have expressed it as their opinion that
the Paris Manuscript_ C _is a complete and finished treatise on
Light and Shade. Certainly, the Principles of Light and Shade form
by far the larger portion of this MS. which consists of two separate
parts; still, the materials are far from being finally arranged. It
is also evident that he here investigates the subject from the point
of view of the Physicist rather than from that of the Painter._
_The plan of a scheme of arrangement suggested in No._ III _and
adopted by me has been strictly adhered to for the first four Books.
For the three last, however, few materials have come down to us; and
it must be admitted that these three Books would find a far more
appropriate place in a work on Physics than in a treatise on
Painting. For this reason I have collected in Book V all the
chapters on Reflections, and in Book VI I have put together and
arranged all the sections of MS._ C _that belong to the book on
Painting, so far as they relate to Light and Shade, while the
sections of the same MS. which treat of the_ "Prospettiva de'
perdimenti" _have, of course, been excluded from the series on Light
[Footnote III: This text has already been published with some slight
variations in Dozio's pamphlet _Degli scritti e disegni di Leonardo
da Vinci_, Milan 1871, pp. 30--31. Dozio did not transcribe it from
the original MS. which seems to have remained unknown to him, but
from an old copy (MS. H. 227 in the Ambrosian Library).]
You must first explain the theory and then the practice. First you
must describe the shadows and lights on opaque objects, and then on
Scheme of the books on Light and shade.
[Having already treated of the nature of shadows and the way in
which they are cast [Footnote 2: _Avendo io tractato._--We may
suppose that he here refers to some particular MS., possibly Paris
C.], I will now consider the places on which they fall; and their
curvature, obliquity, flatness or, in short, any character I may be
able to detect in them.]
Shadow is the obstruction of light. Shadows appear to me to be of
supreme importance in perspective, because, without them opaque and
solid bodies will be ill defined; that which is contained within
their outlines and their boundaries themselves will be
ill-understood unless they are shown against a background of a
different tone from themselves. And therefore in my first
proposition concerning shadow I state that every opaque body is
surrounded and its whole surface enveloped in shadow and light. And
on this proposition I build up the first Book. Besides this, shadows
have in themselves various degrees of darkness, because they are
caused by the absence of a variable amount of the luminous rays; and
these I call Primary shadows because they are the first, and
inseparable from the object to which they belong. And on this I will
found my second Book. From these primary shadows there result
certain shaded rays which are diffused through the atmosphere and
these vary in character according to that of the primary shadows
whence they are derived. I shall therefore call these shadows
Derived shadows because they are produced by other shadows; and the
third Book will treat of these. Again these derived shadows, where
they are intercepted by various objects, produce effects as various
as the places where they are cast and of this I will treat in the
fourth Book. And since all round the derived shadows, where the
derived shadows are intercepted, there is always a space where the
light falls and by reflected dispersion is thrown back towards its
cause, it meets the original shadow and mingles with it and modifies
it somewhat in its nature; and on this I will compose my fifth Book.
Besides this, in the sixth Book I will investigate the many and
various diversities of reflections resulting from these rays which
will modify the original [shadow] by [imparting] some of the various
colours from the different objects whence these reflected rays are
derived. Again, the seventh Book will treat of the various distances
that may exist between the spot where the reflected rays fall and
that where they originate, and the various shades of colour which
they will acquire in falling on opaque bodies.
Different principles and plans of treatment (112--116).
First I will treat of light falling through windows which I will
call Restricted [Light] and then I will treat of light in the open
country, to which I will give the name of diffused Light. Then I
will treat of the light of luminous bodies.
The conditions of shadow and light [as seen] by the eye are 3. Of
these the first is when the eye and the light are on the same side
of the object seen; the 2nd is when the eye is in front of the
object and the light is behind it. The 3rd is when the eye is in
front of the object and the light is on one side, in such a way as
that a line drawn from the object to the eye and one from the object
to the light should form a right angle where they meet.
This is another section: that is, of the nature of a reflection
(from) an object placed between the eye and the light under various
As regards all visible objects 3 things must be considered. These
are the position of the eye which sees: that of the object seen
[with regard] to the light, and the position of the light which
illuminates the object, _b_ is the eye, _a_ the object seen, _c_ the
light, _a_ is the eye, _b_ the illuminating body, _c_ is the
Let _a_ be the light, _b_ the eye, _c_ the object seen by the eye
and in the light. These show, first, the eye between the light and
the body; the 2nd, the light between the eye and the body; the 3rd
the body between the eye and the light, _a_ is the eye, _b_ the
illuminated object, _c_ the light.
OF THE THREE KINDS OF LIGHT THAT ILLUMINATE OPAQUE BODIES.
The first kind of Light which may illuminate opaque bodies is called
Direct light--as that of the sun or any other light from a window or
flame. The second is Diffused [universal] light, such as we see in
cloudy weather or in mist and the like. The 3rd is Subdued light,
that is when the sun is entirely below the horizon, either in the
evening or morning.
The lights which may illuminate opaque bodies are of 4 kinds. These
are: diffused light as that of the atmosphere, within our horizon.
And Direct, as that of the sun, or of a window or door or other
opening. The third is Reflected light; and there is a 4th which is
that which passes through [semi] transparent bodies, as linen or
paper or the like, but not transparent like glass, or crystal, or
other diaphanous bodies, which produce the same effect as though
nothing intervened between the shaded object and the light that
falls upon it; and this we will discuss fully in our discourse.
Definition of the nature of shadows (119--122).
WHAT LIGHT AND SHADOW ARE.
Shadow is the absence of light, merely the obstruction of the
luminous rays by an opaque body. Shadow is of the nature of
darkness. Light [on an object] is of the nature of a luminous body;
one conceals and the other reveals. They are always associated and
inseparable from all objects. But shadow is a more powerful agent
than light, for it can impede and entirely deprive bodies of their
light, while light can never entirely expel shadow from a body, that
is from an opaque body.
Shadow is the diminution of light by the intervention of an opaque
body. Shadow is the counterpart of the luminous rays which are cut
off by an opaque body.
This is proved because the shadow cast is the same in shape and size
as the luminous rays were which are transformed into a shadow.
Shadow is the diminution alike of light and of darkness, and stands
between darkness and light.
A shadow may be infinitely dark, and also of infinite degrees of
absence of darkness.
The beginnings and ends of shadow lie between the light and darkness
and may be infinitely diminished and infinitely increased. Shadow is
the means by which bodies display their form.
The forms of bodies could not be understood in detail but for
OF THE NATURE OF SHADOW.
Shadow partakes of the nature of universal matter. All such matters
are more powerful in their beginning and grow weaker towards the
end, I say at the beginning, whatever their form or condition may be
and whether visible or invisible. And it is not from small
beginnings that they grow to a great size in time; as it might be a
great oak which has a feeble beginning from a small acorn. Yet I may
say that the oak is most powerful at its beginning, that is where it
springs from the earth, which is where it is largest (To return:)
Darkness, then, is the strongest degree of shadow and light is its
least. Therefore, O Painter, make your shadow darkest close to the
object that casts it, and make the end of it fading into light,
seeming to have no end.
Of the various kinds of shadows. (123-125).
Darkness is absence of light. Shadow is diminution of light.
Primitive shadow is that which is inseparable from a body not in the
light. Derived shadow is that which is disengaged from a body in
shadow and pervades the air. A cast transparent shadow is that which
is surrounded by an illuminated surface. A simple shadow is one
which receives no light from the luminous body which causes it. A
simple shadow begins within the line which starts from the edge of
the luminous body _a b_.
A simple shadow is one where no light at all interferes with it.
A compound shadow is one which is somewhat illuminated by one or
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A SHADOW THAT IS INSEPARABLE FROM A
BODY AND A CAST SHADOW?
An inseparable shadow is that which is never absent from the
illuminated body. As, for instance a ball, which so long as it is in
the light always has one side in shadow which never leaves it for
any movement or change of position in the ball. A separate shadow
may be and may not be produced by the body itself. Suppose the ball
to be one braccia distant from a wall with a light on the opposite
side of it; this light will throw upon the wall exactly as broad a
shadow as is to be seen on the side of the ball that is turned
towards the wall. That portion of the cast shadow will not be
visible when the light is below the ball and the shadow is thrown up
towards the sky and finding no obstruction on its way is lost.
HOW THERE ARE 2 KINDS OF LIGHT, ONE SEPARABLE FROM, AND THE OTHER
INSEPARABLE FROM BODIES.
Of the various kinds of light (126, 127).
Separate light is that which falls upon the body. Inseparable light
is the side of the body that is illuminated by that light. One is
called primary, the other derived. And, in the same way there are
two kinds of shadow:--One primary and the other derived. The primary
is that which is inseparable from the body, the derived is that
which proceeds from the body conveying to the surface of the wall
the form of the body causing it.
How there are 2 different kinds of light; one being called diffused,
the other restricted. The diffused is that which freely illuminates
objects. The restricted is that which being admitted through an
opening or window illuminates them on that side only.
[Footnote: At the spot marked _A_ in the first diagram Leonardo
wrote _lume costretto_ (restricted light). At the spot _B_ on the
second diagram he wrote _lume libero_ (diffused light).]
General remarks (128. 129).
Light is the chaser away of darkness. Shade is the obstruction of
light. Primary light is that which falls on objects and causes light
and shade. And derived lights are those portions of a body which are
illuminated by the primary light. A primary shadow is that side of a
body on which the light cannot fall.
The general distribution of shadow and light is that sum total of
the rays thrown off by a shaded or illuminated body passing through
the air without any interference and the spot which intercepts and
cuts off the distribution of the dark and light rays.
And the eye can best distinguish the forms of objects when it is
placed between the shaded and the illuminated parts.
MEMORANDUM OF THINGS I REQUIRE TO HAVE GRANTED [AS AXIOMS] IN MY
EXPLANATION OF PERSPECTIVE.
I ask to have this much granted me--to assert that every ray
passing through air of equal density throughout, travels in a
straight line from its cause to the object or place it falls upon.
FIRST BOOK ON LIGHT AND SHADE.
On the nature of light (130. 131).
The reason by which we know that a light radiates from a single
centre is this: We plainly see that a large light is often much
broader than some small object which nevertheless--and although the
rays [of the large light] are much more than twice the extent [of
the small body]--always has its shadow cast on the nearest surface
very visibly. Let _c f_ be a broad light and _n_ be the object in
front of it, casting a shadow on the plane, and let _a b_ be the
plane. It is clear that it is not the broad light that will cast the
shadow _n_ on the plane, but that the light has within it a centre
is shown by this experiment. The shadow falls on the plane as is
shown at _m o t r_.
[Footnote 13: In the original MS. no explanatory text is placed
after this title-line; but a space is left for it and the text
beginning at line 15 comes next.] Why, to two [eyes] or in front of
two eyes do 3 objects appear as two?
Why, when you estimate the direction of an object with two sights
the nearer appears confused. I say that the eye projects an infinite
number of lines which mingle or join those reaching it which come to
it from the object looked at. And it is only the central and
sensible line that can discern and discriminate colours and objects;
all the others are false and illusory. And if you place 2 objects at
half an arm's length apart if the nearer of the two is close to the
eye its form will remain far more confused than that of the second;
the reason is that the first is overcome by a greater number of
false lines than the second and so is rendered vague.
Light acts in the same manner, for in the effects of its lines
(=rays), and particularly in perspective, it much resembles the eye;
and its central rays are what cast the true shadow. When the object
in front of it is too quickly overcome with dim rays it will cast a
broad and disproportionate shadow, ill defined; but when the object
which is to cast the shadow and cuts off the rays near to the place
where the shadow falls, then the shadow is distinct; and the more so
in proportion as the light is far off, because at a long distance
the central ray is less overcome by false rays; because the lines
from the eye and the solar and other luminous rays passing through
the atmosphere are obliged to travel in straight lines. Unless they
are deflected by a denser or rarer air, when they will be bent at
some point, but so long as the air is free from grossness or
moisture they will preserve their direct course, always carrying the
image of the object that intercepts them back to their point of
origin. And if this is the eye, the intercepting object will be seen
by its colour, as well as by form and size. But if the intercepting
plane has in it some small perforation opening into a darker
chamber--not darker in colour, but by absence of light--you will see
the rays enter through this hole and transmitting to the plane
beyond all the details of the object they proceed from both as to
colour and form; only every thing will be upside down. But the size
[of the image] where the lines are reconstructed will be in
proportion to the relative distance of the aperture from the plane
on which the lines fall [on one hand] and from their origin [on the
other]. There they intersect and form 2 pyramids with their point
meeting [a common apex] and their bases opposite. Let _a b_ be the
point of origin of the lines, _d e_ the first plane, and _c_ the
aperture with the intersection of the lines; _f g_ is the inner
plane. You will find that _a_ falls upon the inner plane below at
_g_, and _b_ which is below will go up to the spot _f_; it will be
quite evident to experimenters that every luminous body has in
itself a core or centre, from which and to which all the lines
radiate which are sent forth by the surface of the luminous body and
reflected back to it; or which, having been thrown out and not
intercepted, are dispersed in the air.
THE RAYS WHETHER SHADED OR LUMINOUS HAVE GREATER STRENGTH AND EFFECT
AT THEIR POINTS THAN AT THEIR SIDES.
Although the points of luminous pyramids may extend into shaded
places and those of pyramids of shadow into illuminated places, and
though among the luminous pyramids one may start from a broader base
than another; nevertheless, if by reason of their various length
these luminous pyramids acquire angles of equal size their light
will be equal; and the case will be the same with the pyramids of
shadow; as may be seen in the intersected pyramids _a b c_ and _d e
f_, which though their bases differ in size are equal as to breadth
[Footnote: 51--55: This supplementary paragraph is indicated as being
a continuation of line 45, by two small crosses.]
The difference between light and lustre (132--135).
Of the difference between light and lustre; and that lustre is not
included among colours, but is saturation of whiteness, and derived
from the surface of wet bodies; light partakes of the colour of the
object which reflects it (to the eye) as gold or silver or the like.
OF THE HIGHEST LIGHTS WHICH TURN AND MOVE AS THE EYE MOVES WHICH
SEES THE OBJECT.
Suppose the body to be the round object figured here and let the
light be at the point _a_, and let the illuminated side of the
object be _b c_ and the eye at the point _d_: I say that, as lustre
is every where and complete in each part, if you stand at the point
_d_ the lustre will appear at _c_, and in proportion as the eye
moves from _d_ to _a_, the lustre will move from _c_ to _n_.
Heigh light or lustre on any object is not situated [necessarily] in
the middle of an illuminated object, but moves as and where the eye
moves in looking at it.
OF LIGHT AND LUSTRE.
What is the difference between light and the lustre which is seen on
the polished surface of opaque bodies?
The lights which are produced from the polished surface of opaque
bodies will be stationary on stationary objects even if the eye on
which they strike moves. But reflected lights will, on those same
objects, appear in as many different places on the surface as
different positions are taken by the eye.
WHAT BODIES HAVE LIGHT UPON THEM WITHOUT LUSTRE?
Opaque bodies which have a hard and rough surface never display any
lustre in any portion of the side on which the light falls.
WHAT BODIES WILL DISPLAY LUSTRE BUT NOT LOOK ILLUMINATED?
Those bodies which are opaque and hard with a hard surface reflect
light [lustre] from every spot on the illuminated side which is in a
position to receive light at the same angle of incidence as they
occupy with regard to the eye; but, as the surface mirrors all the
surrounding objects, the illuminated [body] is not recognisable in
these portions of the illuminated body.
The relations of luminous to illuminated bodies.
The middle of the light and shade on an object in light and shade is
opposite to the middle of the primary light. All light and shadow
expresses itself in pyramidal lines. The middle of the shadow on any
object must necessarily be opposite the middle of its light, with a
direct line passing through the centre of the body. The middle of
the light will be at _a_, that of the shadow at _b_. [Again, in
bodies shown in light and shade the middle of each must coincide
with the centre of the body, and a straight line will pass through
both and through that centre.]
[Footnote: In the original MS., at the spot marked _a_ of the first
diagram Leonardo wrote _primitiuo_, and at the spot marked
_c_--_primitiva_ (primary); at the spot marked _b_ he wrote
_dirivatiuo_ and at _d deriuatiua_ (derived).]
Experiments on the relation of light and shadow within a room
SHOWS HOW LIGHT FROM ANY SIDE CONVERGES TO ONE POINT.
Although the balls _a b c_ are lighted from one window,
nevertheless, if you follow the lines of their shadows you will see
they intersect at a point forming the angle _n_.
[Footnote: The diagram belonging to this passage is slightly
sketched on Pl. XXXII; a square with three balls below it. The first
three lines of the text belonging to it are written above the sketch
and the six others below it.]
Every shadow cast by a body has a central line directed to a single
point produced by the intersection of luminous lines in the middle
of the opening and thickness of the window. The proposition stated
above, is plainly seen by experiment. Thus if you draw a place with
a window looking northwards, and let this be _s f_, you will see a
line starting from the horizon to the east, which, touching the 2
angles of the window _o f_, reaches _d_; and from the horizon on the
west another line, touching the other 2 angles _r s_, and ending at
_c_; and their intersection falls exactly in the middle of the
opening and thickness of the window. Again, you can still better
confirm this proof by placing two sticks, as shown at _g h_; and you
will see the line drawn from the centre of the shadow directed to
the centre _m_ and prolonged to the horizon _n f_.
[Footnote: _B_ here stands for _cerchio del' orizonte tramontano_ on
the original diagram (the circle of the horizon towards the North);
_A_ for _levante_ (East) and _C_ for _ponete_ (West).]
Every shadow with all its variations, which becomes larger as its
distance from the object is greater, has its external lines
intersecting in the middle, between the light and the object. This
proposition is very evident and is confirmed by experience. For, if
_a b_ is a window without any object interposed, the luminous
atmosphere to the right hand at _a_ is seen to the left at _d_. And
the atmosphere at the left illuminates on the right at _c_, and the
lines intersect at the point _m_.
[Footnote: _A_ here stands for _levante_ (East), _B_ for _ponente_
Every body in light and shade is situated between 2 pyramids one
dark and the other luminous, one is visible the other is not. But
this only happens when the light enters by a window. Supposing _a b_
to be the window and _r_ the body in light and shade, the light to
the right hand _z_ will pass the object to the left and go on to
_p_; the light to the left at _k_ will pass to the right of the
object at _i_ and go on to _m_ and the two lines will intersect at
_c_ and form a pyramid. Then again _a_ _b_ falls on the shaded body
at _i_ _g_ and forms a pyramid _f_ _i_ _g_. _f_ will be dark because
the light _a_ _b_ can never fall there; _i_ _g_ _c_ will be
illuminated because the light falls upon it.
Light and shadow with regard to the position of the eye (141--145).
Every shaded body that is larger than the pupil and that interposes
between the luminous body and the eye will be seen dark.
When the eye is placed between the luminous body and the objects
illuminated by it, these objects will be seen without any shadow.
[Footnote: The diagram which in the original stands above line 1 is
given on Plate II, No 2. Then, after a blank space of about eight
lines, the diagram Plate II No 3 is placed in the original. There is
no explanation of it beyond the one line written under it.]
Why the 2 lights one on each side of a body having two pyramidal
sides of an obtuse apex leave it devoid of shadow.
[Footnote: The sketch illustrating this is on Plate XLI No 1.]
A body in shadow situated between the light and the eye can never
display its illuminated portion unless the eye can see the whole of
the primary light.
[Footnote: _A_ stands for _corpo_ (body), _B_ for _lume_ (light).]
The eye which looks (at a spot) half way between the shadow and the
light which surrounds the body in shadow will see that the deepest
shadows on that body will meet the eye at equal angles, that is at
the same angle as that of sight.
[Footnote: In both these diagrams _A_ stands for _lume_ (light) _B_
for _ombra_ (shadow).]
OF THE DIFFERENT LIGHT AND SHADE IN VARIOUS ASPECTS AND OF OBJECTS
PLACED IN THEM.
If the sun is in the East and you look towards the West you will see
every thing in full light and totally without shadow because you see
them from the same side as the sun: and if you look towards the
South or North you will see all objects in light and shade, because
you see both the side towards the sun and the side away from it; and
if you look towards the coming of the sun all objects will show you
their shaded side, because on that side the sun cannot fall upon
The law of the incidence of light.
The edges of a window which are illuminated by 2 lights of equal
degrees of brightness will not reflect light of equal brightness
into the chamber within.
If _b_ is a candle and _a c_ our hemisphere both will illuminate the
edges of the window _m_ _n_, but light _b_ will only illuminate _f
g_ and the hemisphere _a_ will light all of _d e_.
That part of a body which receives the luminous rays at equal angles
will be in a higher light than any other part of it.
And the part which the luminous rays strike between less equal
angles will be less strongly illuminated.
SECOND BOOK ON LIGHT AND SHADE.
Gradations of strength in the shadows (148. 149).
THAT PORTION OF A BODY IN LIGHT AND SHADE WILL BE LEAST LUMINOUS
WHICH IS SEEN UNDER THE LEAST AMOUNT OF LIGHT.
That part of the object which is marked _m_ is in the highest light
because it faces the window _a d_ by the line _a f_; _n_ is in the
second grade because the light _b d_ strikes it by the line _b e_;
_o_ is in the third grade, as the light falls on it from _c d_ by
the line _c h_; _p_ is the lowest light but one as _c d_ falls on it
by the line _d v_; _q_ is the deepest shadow for no light falls on
it from any part of the window.
In proportion as _c d_ goes into _a d_ so will _n r s_ be darker
than _m_, and all the rest is space without shadow.
[Footnote: The diagram belonging to this chapter is No. 1 on Plate
III. The letters _a b e d_ and _r_ are not reproduced in facsimile
of the original, but have been replaced by ordinary type in the
margin. 5-12. The original text of these lines is reproduced within
the diagram.--Compare No 275.]
The light which falls on a shaded body at the acutest angle receives
the highest light, and the darkest portion is that which receives it
at an obtuse angle and both the light and the shadow form pyramids.
The angle _c_ receives the highest grade of light because it is
directly in front of the window _a b_ and the whole horizon of the
sky _m x_. The angle _a_ differs but little from _c_ because the
angles which divide it are not so unequal as those below, and only
that portion of the horizon is intercepted which lies between _y_
and _x_. Although it gains as much on the other side its line is
nevertheless not very strong because one angle is smaller than its
fellow. The angles _e i_ will have less light because they do not
see much of the light _m s_ and the light _v x_ and their angles are
very unequal. Yhe angle _k_ and the angle _f_ are each placed
between very unequal angles and therefore have but little light,
because at _k_ it has only the light _p t_, and at _f_ only _t q_;
_o g_ is the lowest grade of light because this part has no light at
all from the sky; and thence come the lines which will reconstruct a
pyramid that is the counterpart of the pyramid _c_; and this pyramid
_l_ is in the first grade of shadow; for this too is placed between
equal angles directly opposite to each other on either side of a
straight line which passes through the centre of the body and goes
to the centre of the light. The several luminous images cast within
the frame of the window at the points _a_ and _b_ make a light which
surrounds the derived shadow cast by the solid body at the points 4
and 6. The shaded images increase from _o g_ and end at 7 and 8.
[Footnote: The diagram belonging to this chapter is No. 2 on Plate
III. In the original it is placed between lines 3 and 4, and in the
reproduction these are shown in part. The semi circle above is
marked _orizonte_ (horizon). The number 6 at the left hand side,
outside the facsimile, is in the place of a figure which has become
indistinct in the original.]
On the intensity of shadows as dependent on the distance from the
The smaller the light that falls upon an object the more shadow it
will display. And the light will illuminate a smaller portion of the
object in proportion as it is nearer to it; and conversely, a larger
extent of it in proportion as it is farther off.
A light which is smaller than the object on which it falls will
light up a smaller extent of it in proportion as it is nearer to it,
and the converse, as it is farther from it. But when the light is
larger than the object illuminated it will light a larger extent of
the object in proportion as it is nearer and the converse when they
are farther apart.
That portion of an illuminated object which is nearest to the source
of light will be the most strongly illuminated.
That portion of the primary shadow will be least dark which is
farthest from the edges.
The derived shadow will be darker than the primary shadow where it
is contiguous with it.
On the proportion of light and shade (153-157).
That portion of an opaque body will be more in shade or more in
light, which is nearer to the dark body, by which it is shaded, or
to the light that illuminates it.
Objects seen in light and shade show in greater relief than those
which are wholly in light or in shadow.
The shaded and illuminated sides of opaque objects will display the
same proportion of light and darkness as their objects [Footnote 6:
The meaning of _obbietti_ (objects) is explained in no 153, lines
1-4.--Between the title-line and the next there is, in the
original, a small diagram representing a circle described round a
The outlines and form of any part of a body in light and shade are
indistinct in the shadows and in the high lights; but in the
portions between the light and the shadows they are highly
Among objects in various degrees of shade, when the light proceeds
from a single source, there will be the same proportion in their
shadows as in the natural diminution of the light and the same must
be understood of the degrees of light.
A single and distinct luminous body causes stronger relief in the
object than a diffused light; as may be seen by comparing one side
of a landscape illuminated by the sun, and one overshadowed by
clouds, and so illuminated only by the diffused light of the
THIRD BOOK ON LIGHT AND SHADE.
Definition of derived shadow (158. 159).
Derived shadow cannot exist without primary shadow. This is proved
by the first of this which says: Darkness is the total absence of
light, and shadow is an alleviation of darkness and of light, and it
is more or less dark or light in proportion as the darkness is
modified by the light.
Shadow is diminution of light.
Darkness is absence of light.
Shadow is divided into two kinds, of which the first is called
primary shadow, the second is derived shadow. The primary shadow is
always the basis of the derived shadow.
The edges of the derived shadow are straight lines.
[Footnote: The theory of the _ombra_ dirivativa_--a technical
expression for which there is no precise English equivalent is
elaborately treated by Leonardo. But both text and diagrams (as Pl.
IV, 1-3 and Pl. V) must at once convince the student that the
distinction he makes between _ombra primitiva_ and _ombra
dirivativa_ is not merely justifiable but scientific. _Ombra
dirivativa_ is by no means a mere abstract idea. This is easily
proved by repeating the experiment made by Leonardo, and by filling
with smoke the room in which the existence of the _ombra dirivativa_
is investigated, when the shadow becomes visible. Nor is it
difficult to perceive how much of Leonardo's teaching depended on
this theory. The recognised, but extremely complicated science of
cast shadows--_percussione dell' ombre dirivative_ as Leonardo
calls them--is thus rendered more intelligible if not actually
simpler, and we must assume this theory as our chief guide through
the investigations which follow.]
The darkness of the derived shadow diminishes in proportion as it is
remote from the primary shadow.
Different sorts of derived shadows (160-162).
SHADOW AND LIGHT.
The forms of shadows are three: inasmuch as if the solid body which
casts the shadow is equal (in size) to the light, the shadow
resembles a column without any termination (in length). If the body
is larger than the light the shadow resembles a truncated and
inverted pyramid, and its length has also no defined termination.
But if the body is smaller than the light, the shadow will resemble
a pyramid and come to an end, as is seen in eclipses of the moon.
OF SIMPLE DERIVED SHADOWS.
The simple derived shadow is of two kinds: one kind which has its
length defined, and two kinds which are undefined; and the defined
shadow is pyramidal. Of the two undefined, one is a column and the
other spreads out; and all three have rectilinear outlines. But the
converging, that is the pyramidal, shadow proceeds from a body that
is smaller than the light, and the columnar from a body equal in
size to the light, and the spreading shadow from a body larger than
the light; &c.
OF COMPOUND DERIVED SHADOWS.
Compound derived shadows are of two kinds; that is columnar and
Derived shadows are of three kinds of which one is spreading, the
second columnar, the third converging to the point where the two
sides meet and intersect, and beyond this intersection the sides are
infinitely prolonged or straight lines. And if you say, this shadow
must terminate at the angle where the sides meet and extend no
farther, I deny this, because above in the first on shadow I have
proved: that a thing is completely terminated when no portion of it
goes beyond its terminating lines. Now here, in this shadow, we see
the converse of this, in as much as where this derived shadow
originates we obviously have the figures of two pyramids of shadow
which meet at their angles. Hence, if, as [my] opponent says, the
first pyramid of shadow terminates the derivative shadow at the
angle whence it starts, then the second pyramid of shadow--so says
the adversary--must be caused by the angle and not from the body in
shadow; and this is disproved with the help of the 2nd of this which
says: Shadow is a condition produced by a body casting a shadow, and
interposed between this shadow and the luminous body. By this it is
made clear that the shadow is not produced by the angle of the
derived shadow but only by the body casting the shadow; &c. If a
spherical solid body is illuminated by a light of elongated form the
shadow produced by the longest portion of this light will have less
defined outlines than that which is produced by the breadth of the
same light. And this is proved by what was said before, which is:
That a shadow will have less defined outlines in proportion as the
light which causes it is larger, and conversely, the outlines are
clearer in proportion as it is smaller.
[Footnote: The two diagrams to this chapter are on Plate IV, No. 1.]
On the relation of derived and primary shadow (163-165).
The derived shadow can never resemble the body from which it
proceeds unless the light is of the same form and size as the body
causing the shadow.
The derived shadow cannot be of the same form as the primary shadow
unless it is intercepted by a plane parallel to it.
HOW A CAST SHADOW CAN NEVER BE OF THE SAME SIZE AS THE BODY THAT
If the rays of light proceed, as experience shows, from a single
point and are diffused in a sphere round this point, radiating and
dispersed through the air, the farther they spread the wider they
must spread; and an object placed between the light and a wall is
always imaged larger in its shadow, because the rays that strike it
[Footnote: 7. The following lines are wanting to complete the
logical connection.] would, by the time they have reached the wall,
have become larger.
Any shadow cast by a body in light and shade is of the same nature
and character as that which is inseparable from the body. The centre
of the length of a shadow always corresponds to that of the luminous
body [Footnote 6: This second statement of the same idea as in the
former sentence, but in different words, does not, in the original,
come next to the foregoing; sections 172 and 127 are placed between
them.]. It is inevitable that every shadow must have its centre in a
line with the centre of the light.
On the shape of derived shadows (166-174).
OF THE PYRAMIDAL SHADOW.
The pyramidal shadow produced by a columnar body will be narrower
than the body itself in proportion as the simple derived shadow is
intersected farther from the body which casts it.
[Footnote 166: Compare the first diagram to No. 161. If we here
conceive of the outlines of the pyramid of shadow on the ground as
prolonged beyond its apex this gives rise to a second pyramid; this
is what is spoken of at the beginning of No. 166.]
The cast shadow will be longest when the light is lowest.
The cast shadow will be shortest when the light is highest.
Both the primary and derived shadow will be larger when caused by
the light of a candle than by diffused light. The difference between
the larger and smaller shadows will be in inverse proportion to the
larger and smaller lights causing them.
[Footnote: In the diagrams _A_ stands for _celo_ (sky), _B_ for
ALL BODIES, IN PROPORTION AS THEY ARE NEARER TO, OR FARTHER FROM THE
SOURCE OF LIGHT, WILL PRODUCE LONGER OR SHORTER DERIVED SHADOWS.
Among bodies of equal size, that one which is illuminated by the
largest light will have the shortest shadow. Experiment confirms
this proposition. Thus the body _m_ _n_ is surrounded by a larger
amount of light than the body _p q_, as is shown above. Let us say
that _v c a b d x_ is the sky, the source of light, and that _s t_
is a window by which the luminous rays enter, and so _m n_ and _p q_
are bodies in light and shade as exposed to this light; _m n_ will
have a small derived shadow, because its original shadow will be
small; and the derivative light will be large, again, because the
original light _c d_ will be large and _p q_ will have more derived
shadow because its original shadow will be larger, and its derived
light will be smaller than that of the body _m n_ because that
portion of the hemisphere _a b_ which illuminates it is smaller than
the hemisphere _c d_ which illuminates the body _m n_.
[Footnote: The diagram, given on Pl. IV, No. 2, stands in the
original between lines 2 and 7, while the text of lines 3 to 6 is
written on its left side. In the reproduction of this diagram the
letter _v_ at the outer right-hand end has been omitted.]
The shadow _m_ bears the same proportion to the shadow _n_ as the
line _b c_ to the line _f c_.
Of different shadows of equal strength that which is nearest the eye
will seem the least strong.
Why is the shadow _e a b_ in the first grade of strength, _b c_ in
the second; _c d_ in the third? The reason is that as from _e a b_
the sky is nowhere visible, it gets no light whatever from the sky,
and so has no direct [primary] light. _b c_ faces the portion of the
sky _f g_ and is illuminated by it. _c d_ faces the sky at _h k_. _c
d_, being exposed to a larger extent of sky than _b c_, it is
reasonable that it should be more lighted. And thus, up to a certain
distance, the wall _a d_ will grow lighter for the reasons here
given, until the darkness of the room overpowers the light from the
When the light of the atmosphere is restricted [by an opening] and
illuminates bodies which cast shadows, these bodies being equally
distant from the centre of the window, that which is most obliquely
placed will cast the largest shadow beyond it.
These bodies standing apart in a room lighted by a single window
will have derivative shadows more or less short according as they
are more or less opposite to the window. Among the shadows cast by
bodies of equal mass but at unequal distances from the opening by
which they are illuminated, that shadow will be the longest of the
body which is least in the light. And in proportion as one body is
better illuminated than another its shadow will be shorter than
another. The proportion _n m_ and _e v k_ bear to _r t_ and _v x_
corresponds with that of the shadow _x_ to 4 and _y_.
The reason why those bodies which are placed most in front of the
middle of the window throw shorter shadows than those obliquely
situated is:--That the window appears in its proper form and to the
obliquely placed ones it appears foreshortened; to those in the
middle, the window shows its full size, to the oblique ones it
appears smaller; the one in the middle faces the whole hemisphere
that is _e f_ and those on the side have only a strip; that is _q r_
faces _a b_; and _m n_ faces _c d_; the body in the middle having a
larger quantity of light than those at the sides is lighted from a
point much below its centre, and thus the shadow is shorter. And the
pyramid _g_ 4 goes into _l y_ exactly as often as _a b_ goes into _e
f_. The axis of every derivative shadow passes through 6 1/2
[Footnote 31: _passa per_ 6 1/2 (passes through 6 1/2). The meaning
of these words is probably this: Each of the three axes of the
derived shadow intersects the centre (_mezzo_) of the primary shadow
(_ombra originale_) and, by prolongation upwards crosses six lines.
This is self evident only in the middle diagram; but it is equally
true of the side figures if we conceive of the lines 4 _f_, _x n v
m_, _y l k v_, and 4 _e_, as prolonged beyond the semicircle of the
horizon.] and is in a straight line with the centre of the primary
shadow, with the centre of the body casting it and of the derivative
light and with the centre of the window and, finally, with the
centre of that portion of the source of light which is the celestial
hemisphere, _y h_ is the centre of the derived shade, _l h_ of the
primary shadow, _l_ of the body throwing it, _l k_ of the derived
light, _v_ is the centre of the window, _e_ is the final centre of
the original light afforded by that portion of the hemisphere of the
sky which illuminates the solid body.
[Footnote: Compare the diagram on Pl. IV, No. 3. In the original
this drawing is placed between lines 3 and 22; the rest, from line 4
to line 21, is written on the left hand margin.]
THE FARTHER THE DERIVED SHADOW IS PROLONGED THE LIGHTER IT BECOMES.
You will find that the proportion of the diameter of the derived
shadow to that of the primary shadow will be the same as that
between the darkness of the primary shadow and that of the derived
[Footnote 6: Compare No. 177.] Let _a b_ be the diameter of the
primary shadow and _c d_ that of the derived shadow, I say that _a
b_ going, as you see, three times into _d c_, the shadow _d c_ will
be three times as light as the shadow _a b_. [Footnote 8: Compare
If the size of the illuminating body is larger than that of the
illuminated body an intersection of shadow will occur, beyond which
the shadows will run off in two opposite directions as if they were
caused by two separate lights.
On the relative intensity of derived shadows (175-179).
The derived shadow is stronger in proportion as it is nearer to its
place of origin.
HOW SHADOWS FADE AWAY AT LONG DISTANCES.
Shadows fade and are lost at long distances because the larger
quantity of illuminated air which lies between the eye and the
object seen tints the shadow with its own colour.
_a b_ will be darker than _c d_ in proportion as _c d_ is broader
than _a b_.
[Footnote: In the original MS. the word _lume_ (light) is written at
the apex of the pyramid.]
It can be proved why the shadow _o p c h_ is darker in proportion as
it is nearer to the line _p h_ and is lighter in proportion as it is
nearer to the line _o c_. Let the light _a b_, be a window, and let
the dark wall in which this window is, be _b s_, that is, one of the
sides of the wall.
Then we may say that the line _p h_ is darker than any other part of
the space _o p c h_, because this line faces the whole surface in
shadow of [Footnote: In the original the diagram is placed between
lines 27 and 28.] the wall _b s_. The line _o c_ is lighter than the
other part of this space _o p c h_, because this line faces the
luminous space _a b_.
Where the shadow is larger, or smaller, or equal the body which
[First of the character of divided lights. [Footnote 14: _lumi
divisi_. The text here breaks off abruptly.]
OF THE COMPOUND SHADOW _F, R, C, H_ CAUSED BY A SINGLE LIGHT.
The shadow _f r c h_ is under such conditions as that where it is
farthest from its inner side it loses depth in proportion. To prove
Let _d a_, be the light and _f n_ the solid body, and let _a e_ be
one of the side walls of the window that is _d a_. Then I
say--according to the 2nd [proposition]: that the surface of any
body is affected by the tone of the objects surrounding it,--that
the side _r c_, which faces the dark wall _a e_ must participate of
its darkness and, in the same way that the outer surface which faces
the light _d a_ participates of the light; thus we get the outlines
of the extremes on each side of the centre included between them.]
This is divided into four parts. The first the extremes, which
include the compound shadow, secondly the compound shadow between
THE ACTION OF THE LIGHT AS FROM ITS CENTRE.
If it were the whole of the light that caused the shadows beyond the
bodies placed in front of it, it would follow that any body much
smaller than the light would cast a pyramidal shadow; but experience
not showing this, it must be the centre of the light that produces
[Footnote: The diagram belonging to this passage is between lines 4
and 5 in the original. Comp. the reproduction Pl. IV, No. 4. The
text and drawing of this chapter have already been published with
tolerable accuracy. See M. JORDAN: "_Das Malerbuch des Leonardo da
Vinci_". Leipzig 1873, P. 90.]
Let _a b_ be the width of the light from a window, which falls on a
stick set up at one foot from _a c_ [Footnote 6: _bastone_ (stick).
The diagram has a sphere in place of a stick.]. And let _a d_ be the
space where all the light from the window is visible. At _c e_ that
part of the window which is between _l b_ cannot be seen. In the
same way _a m_ cannot be seen from _d f_ and therefore in these two
portions the light begins to fail.
Shadow as produced by two lights of different size (180. 181).
A body in light and shade placed between two equal lights side by
side will cast shadows in proportion to the [amount of] light. And
the shadows will be one darker than the other in proportion as one
light is nearer to the said body than the other on the opposite
A body placed at an equal distance between two lights will cast two
shadows, one deeper than the other in proportion, as the light which
causes it is brighter than the other.
[Footnote: In the MS. the larger diagram is placed above the first
line; the smaller one between l. 4 & 5.]
A light which is smaller than the body it illuminates produces
shadows of which the outlines end within [the surface of] the body,
and not much compound shadow; and falls on less than half of it. A
light which is larger than the body it illuminates, falls on more
than half of it, and produces much compound shadow.
The effect of light at different distances.
OF THE SHADOW CAST BY A BODY PLACED BETWEEN 2 EQUAL LIGHTS.
A body placed between 2 equal lights will cast 2 shadows of itself
in the direction of the lines of the 2 lights; and if you move this
body placing it nearer to one of the lights the shadow cast towards
the nearer light will be less deep than that which falls towards the
more distant one.
Further complications in the derived shadows (183-187).
The greatest depth of shadow is in the simple derived shadow because
it is not lighted by either of the two lights _a b, c d_.
The next less deep shadow is the derived shadow _e f n_; and in this
the shadow is less by half, because it is illuminated by a single
light, that is _c d_.
This is uniform in natural tone because it is lighted throughout by
one only of the two luminous bodies . But it varies with the
conditions of shadow, inasmuch as the farther it is away from the
light the less it is illuminated by it .
The third degree of depth is the middle shadow [Footnote 15: We
gather from what follows that _q g r_ here means _ombra media_ (the
middle shadow).]. But this is not uniform in natural tone; because
the nearer it gets to the simple derived shadow the deeper it is
[Footnote 18: Compare lines 10-13], and it is the uniformly gradual
diminution by increase of distance which is what modifies it
[Footnote 20: See Footnote 18]: that is to say the depth of a shadow
increases in proportion to the distance from the two lights.
The fourth is the shadow _k r s_ and this is all the darker in
natural tone in proportion as it is nearer to _k s_, because it gets
less of the light _a o_, but by the accident [of distance] it is
rendered less deep, because it is nearer to the light _c d_, and
thus is always exposed to both lights.
The fifth is less deep in shadow than either of the others because
it is always entirely exposed to one of the lights and to the whole
or part of the other; and it is less deep in proportion as it is
nearer to the two lights, and in proportion as it is turned towards
the outer side _x t_; because it is more exposed to the second light
[Footnote: The diagram to this section is given on Pl. V. To the
left is the facsimile of the beginning of the text belonging to it.]
OF SIMPLE SHADOWS.
Why, at the intersections _a_, _b_ of the two compound shadows _e f_
and _m e_, is a simple shadow pfoduced as at _e h_ and _m g_, while
no such simple shadow is produced at the other two intersections _c
d_ made by the very same compound shadows?
Compound shadow are a mixture of light and shade and simple shadows
are simply darkness. Hence, of the two lights _n_ and _o_, one falls
on the compound shadow from one side, and the other on the compound
shadow from the other side, but where they intersect no light falls,
as at _a b_; therefore it is a simple shadow. Where there is a
compound shadow one light or the other falls; and here a difficulty
arises for my adversary since he says that, where the compound
shadows intersect, both the lights which produce the shadows must of
necessity fall and therefore these shadows ought to be neutralised;
inasmuch as the two lights do not fall there, we say that the shadow
is a simple one and where only one of the two lights falls, we say
the shadow is compound, and where both the lights fall the shadow is
neutralised; for where both lights fall, no shadow of any kind is
produced, but only a light background limiting the shadow. Here I
shall say that what my adversary said was true: but he only mentions
such truths as are in his favour; and if we go on to the rest he
must conclude that my proposition is true. And that is: That if both
lights fell on the point of intersection, the shadows would be
neutralised. This I confess to be true if [neither of] the two
shadows fell in the same spot; because, where a shadow and a light
fall, a compound shadow is produced, and wherever two shadows or two
equal lights fall, the shadow cannot vary in any part of it, the
shadows and the lights both being equal. And this is proved in the
eighth [proposition] on proportion where it is said that if a given
quantity has a single unit of force and resistance, a double
quantity will have double force and double resistance.
The intersection _n_ is produced by the shadows caused by the light
_b_, because this light _b_ produces the shadow _x b_, and the
shadow _s b_, but the intersection _m_ is produced by the light _a_
which causes the shadow _s a_, and the shadow _x a_.
But if you uncover both the lights _a b_, then you get the two
shadows _n m_ both at once, and besides these, two other, simple
shadows are produced at _r o_ where neither of the two lights falls
at all. The grades of depth in compound shadows are fewer in
proportion as the lights falling on, and crossing them are less
Why the intersections at _n_ being composed of two compound derived
shadows, forms a compound shadow and not a simple one, as happens
with other intersections of compound shadows. This occurs, according
to the 2nd [diagram] of this [prop.] which says:--The intersection
of derived shadows when produced by the intersection of columnar
shadows caused by a single light does not produce a simple shadow.
And this is the corollary of the 1st [prop.] which says:--The
intersection of simple derived shadows never results in a deeper
shadow, because the deepest shadows all added together cannot be
darker than one by itself. Since, if many deepest shadows increased
in depth by their duplication, they could not be called the
_deepest_ shadows, but only part-shadows. But if such intersections
are illuminated by a second light placed between the eye and the
intersecting bodies, then those shadows would become compound
shadows and be uniformly dark just as much at the intersection as
throughout the rest. In the 1st and 2nd above, the intersections _i
k_ will not be doubled in depth as it is doubled in quantity. But in
this 3rd, at the intersections _g n_ they will be double in depth
and in quantity.
HOW AND WHEN THE SURROUNDINGS IN SHADOW MINGLE THEIR DERIVED SHADOW
WITH THE LIGHT DERIVED FROM THE LUMINOUS BODY.
The derived shadow of the dark walls on each side of the bright
light of the window are what mingle their various degrees of shade
with the light derived from the window; and these various depths of
shade modify every portion of the light, except where it is
strongest, at _c_. To prove this let _d a_ be the primary shadow
which is turned towards the point _e_, and darkens it by its derived
shadow; as may be seen by the triangle _a e d_, in which the
angle _e_ faces the darkened base _d a e_; the point _v_ faces the
dark shadow _a s_ which is part of _a d_, and as the whole is
greater than a part, _e_ which faces the whole base [of the
triangle], will be in deeper shadow than _v_ which only faces part
of it. In consequence of the conclusion [shown] in the above
diagram, _t_ will be less darkened than _v_, because the base of the
_t_ is part of the base of the _v_; and in the same way it follows
that _p_ is less in shadow than _t_, because the base of the _p_ is
part of the base of the _t_. And _c_ is the terminal point of the
derived shadow and the chief beginning of the highest light.
[Footnote: The diagram on Pl. IV, No. 5 belongs to this passage; but
it must be noted that the text explains only the figure on the
FOURTH BOOK ON LIGHT AND SHADE.
On the shape of the cast shadows (188-191).
The form of the shadow cast by any body of uniform density can never
be the same as that of the body producing it. [Footnote: Comp. the
drawing on PI. XXVIII, No. 5.]
No cast shadow can produce the true image of the body which casts it
on a vertical plane unless the centre of the light is equally
distant from all the edges of that body.
If a window _a b_ admits the sunlight into a room, the sunlight will
magnify the size of the window and diminish the shadow of a man in
such a way as that when the man makes that dim shadow of himself,
approach to that which defines the real size of the window, he will
see the shadows where they come into contact, dim and confused from
the strength of the light, shutting off and not allowing the solar
rays to pass; the effect of the shadow of the man cast by this
contact will be exactly that figured above.
[Footnote: It is scarcely possible to render the meaning of this
sentence with strict accuracy; mainly because the grammatical
construction is defective in the most important part--line 4. In the
very slight original sketch the shadow touches the upper arch of the
window and the correction, here given is perhaps not justified.]
A shadow is never seen as of uniform depth on the surface which
intercepts it unless every portion of that surface is equidistant
from the luminous body. This is proved by the 7th which says:--The
shadow will appear lighter or stronger as it is surrounded by a
darker or a lighter background. And by the 8th of this:--The
background will be in parts darker or lighter, in proportion as it
is farther from or nearer to the luminous body. And:--Of various
spots equally distant from the luminous body those will always be in
the highest light on which the rays fall at the smallest angles: The
outline of the shadow as it falls on inequalities in the surface
will be seen with all the contours similar to those of the body that
casts it, if the eye is placed just where the centre of the light
The shadow will look darkest where it is farthest from the body that
casts it. The shadow _c d_, cast by the body in shadow _a b_ which
is equally distant in all parts, is not of equal depth because it is
seen on a back ground of varying brightness. [Footnote: Compare the
three diagrams on Pl. VI, no 1 which, in the original accompany this
On the outlines of cast shadows (192-195).
The edges of a derived shadow will be most distinct where it is cast
nearest to the primary shadow.
As the derived shadow gets more distant from the primary shadow, the
more the cast shadow differs from the primary shadow.
OF SHADOWS WHICH NEVER COME TO AN END.