The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci/IX

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IX. The Practice of Painting.[edit]

_It is hardly necessary to offer any excuses for the division carried out in the arrangement of the text into practical suggestions and theoretical enquiries. It was evidently intended by Leonardo himself as we conclude from incidental remarks in the MSS. (for instance No_ 110_). The fact that this arrangement was never carried out either in the old MS. copies or in any edition since, is easily accounted for by the general disorder which results from the provisional distribution of the various chapters in the old copies. We have every reason to believe that the earliest copyists, in distributing the materials collected by them, did not in the least consider the order in which the original MS.lay before them._

_It is evident that almost all the chapters which refer to the calling and life of the painter--and which are here brought together in the first section (Nos._ 482-508_)--may be referred to two distinct periods in Leonardo's life; most of them can be dated as belonging to the year_ 1492 _or to_ 1515. _At about this later time Leonardo may have formed the project of completing his Libro della Pittura, after an interval of some years, as it would seem, during which his interest in the subject had fallen somewhat into the background._

_In the second section, which treats first of the artist's studio, the construction of a suitable window forms the object of careful investigations; the special importance attached to this by Leonardo is sufficiently obvious. His theory of the incidence of light which was fully discussed in a former part of this work, was to him by no means of mere abstract value, but, being deduced, as he says, from experience (or experiment) was required to prove its utility in practice. Connected with this we find suggestions for the choice of a light with practical hints as to sketching a picture and some other precepts of a practical character which must come under consideration in the course of completing the painting. In all this I have followed the same principle of arrangement in the text as was carried out in the Theory of Painting, thus the suggestions for the Perspective of a picture, (Nos._ 536-569_), are followed by the theory of light and shade for the practical method of optics (Nos._ 548--566_) and this by the practical precepts or the treatment of aerial perspective (_567--570_)._

_In the passage on Portrait and Figure Painting the principles of painting as applied to a bust and head are separated and placed first, since the advice to figure painters must have some connection with the principles of the treatment of composition by which they are followed._

_But this arrangement of the text made it seem advisable not to pick out the practical precepts as to the representation of trees and landscape from the close connection in which they were originally placed--unlike the rest of the practical precepts--with the theory of this branch of the subject. They must therefore be sought under the section entitled Botany for Painters._

_As a supplement to the_ Libro di Pittura _I have here added those texts which treat of the Painter's materials,--as chalk, drawing paper, colours and their preparation, of the management of oils and varnishes; in the appendix are some notes on chemical substances. Possibly some of these, if not all, may have stood in connection with the preparation of colours. It is in the very nature of things that Leonardo's incidental indications as to colours and the like should be now-a-days extremely obscure and could only be explained by professional experts--by them even in but few instances. It might therefore have seemed advisable to reproduce exactly the original text without offering any translation. The rendering here given is merely an attempt to suggest what Leonardo's meaning may have been._

_LOMAZZO tells us in his_ Trattato dell'arte della Pittura, Scultura ed Architettura (Milano 1584, libro II, Cap. XIV): "Va discorrendo ed argomentando Leonardo Vinci in un suo libro letto da me (?) questi anni passati, ch'egli scrisse di mano stanca ai prieghi di LUDOVICO SFORZA duca di Milano, in determinazione di questa questione, se e piu nobile la pittura o la scultura; dicendo che quanto piu un'arte porta seco fatica di corpo, e sudore, tanto piu e vile, e men pregiata". _But the existence of any book specially written for Lodovico il Moro on the superiority of Painting over sculpture is perhaps mythical. The various passages in praise of Painting as compared not merely with Sculpture but with Poetry, are scattered among MSS. of very different dates._

_Besides, the way, in which the subject is discussed appears not to support the supposition, that these texts were prepared at a special request of the Duke._



How to ascertain the dispositions for an artistic career.



Many are they who have a taste and love for drawing, but no talent; and this will be discernible in boys who are not diligent and never finish their drawings with shading.

The course of instruction for an artist (483-485).


The youth should first learn perspective, then the proportions of objects. Then he may copy from some good master, to accustom himself to fine forms. Then from nature, to confirm by practice the rules he has learnt. Then see for a time the works of various masters. Then get the habit of putting his art into practice and work.

[Footnote: The Vatican copy and numerous abridgements all place this chapter at the beginning of the _Trattato_, and in consequence DUFRESNE and all subsequent editors have done the same. In the Vatican copy however all the general considerations on the relation of painting to the other arts are placed first, as introductory.]



First draw from drawings by good masters done from works of art and from nature, and not from memory; then from plastic work, with the guidance of the drawing done from it; and then from good natural models and this you must put into practice.



The artist ought first to exercise his hand by copying drawings from the hand of a good master. And having acquired that practice, under the criticism of his master, he should next practise drawing objects in relief of a good style, following the rules which will presently be given.

The study of the antique (486. 487).



Which is best, to draw from nature or from the antique? and which is more difficult to do outlines or light and shade?


It is better to imitate [copy] the antique than modern work.

[Footnote 486, 487: These are the only two passages in which Leonardo alludes to the importance of antique art in the training of an artist. The question asked in No. 486 remains unanswered by him and it seems to me very doubtful whether the opinion stated in No. 487 is to be regarded as a reply to it. This opinion stands in the MS. in a connection--as will be explained later on--which seems to require us to limit its application to a single special case. At any rate we may suspect that when Leonardo put the question, he felt some hesitation as to the answer. Among his very numerous drawings I have not been able to find a single study from the antique, though a drawing in black chalk, at Windsor, of a man on horseback (PI. LXXIII) may perhaps be a reminiscence of the statue of Marcus Aurelius at Rome. It seems to me that the drapery in a pen and ink drawing of a bust, also at Windsor, has been borrowed from an antique model (Pl. XXX). G. G. Rossi has, I believe, correctly interpreted Leonardo's feeling towards the antique in the following note on this passage in manzi's edition, p. 501: "Sappiamo dalla storia, che i valorosi artisti Toscani dell'eta dell'oro dell'arte studiarono sugli antichi marmi raccolti dal Magnifico LORENZO DE' MEDICI. Pare che il Vinci a tali monumenti non si accostasse. Quest' uomo sempre riconosce per maestra la natura, e questo principio lo stringeva alla sola imitazione di essa"--Compare No. 10, 26--28 footnote.]

The necessity of anatomical knowledge (488. 489).



It is indispensable to a Painter who would be thoroughly familiar with the limbs in all the positions and actions of which they are capable, in the nude, to know the anatomy of the sinews, bones, muscles and tendons so that, in their various movements and exertions, he may know which nerve or muscle is the cause of each movement and show those only as prominent and thickened, and not the others all over [the limb], as many do who, to seem great draughtsmen, draw their nude figures looking like wood, devoid of grace; so that you would think you were looking at a sack of walnuts rather than the human form, or a bundle of radishes rather than the muscles of figures.



The painter who is familiar with the nature of the sinews, muscles, and tendons, will know very well, in giving movement to a limb, how many and which sinews cause it; and which muscle, by swelling, causes the contraction of that sinew; and which sinews, expanded into the thinnest cartilage, surround and support the said muscle. Thus he will variously and constantly demonstrate the different muscles by means of the various attitudes of his figures, and will not do, as many who, in a variety of movements, still display the very same things [modelling] in the arms, back, breast and legs. And these things are not to be regarded as minor faults.

How to acquire practice.



I say that first you ought to learn the limbs and their mechanism, and having this knowledge, their actions should come next, according to the circumstances in which they occur in man. And thirdly to compose subjects, the studies for which should be taken from natural actions and made from time to time, as circumstances allow; and pay attention to them in the streets and _piazze_ and fields, and note them down with a brief indication of the forms; [Footnote 5: Lines 5-7 explained by the lower portion of the sketch No. 1 on Pl. XXXI.] thus for a head make an o, and for an arm a straight or a bent line, and the same for the legs and the body, [Footnote 7: Lines 5-7 explained by the lower portion of the sketch No. 1 on Pl. XXXI.] and when you return home work out these notes in a complete form. The Adversary says that to acquire practice and do a great deal of work it is better that the first period of study should be employed in drawing various compositions done on paper or on walls by divers masters, and that in this way practice is rapidly gained, and good methods; to which I reply that the method will be good, if it is based on works of good composition and by skilled masters. But since such masters are so rare that there are but few of them to be found, it is a surer way to go to natural objects, than to those which are imitated from nature with great deterioration, and so form bad methods; for he who can go to the fountain does not go to the water-jar.

[Footnote: This passage has been published by Dr. M. JORDAN, _Das Malerbuck des L. da Vinci_, p. 89; his reading however varies slightly from mine.]

Industry and thoroughness the first conditions (491-493.)



We know for certain that sight is one of the most rapid actions we can perform. In an instant we see an infinite number of forms, still we only take in thoroughly one object at a time. Supposing that you, Reader, were to glance rapidly at the whole of this written page, you would instantly perceive that it was covered with various letters; but you could not, in the time, recognise what the letters were, nor what they were meant to tell. Hence you would need to see them word by word, line by line to be able to understand the letters. Again, if you wish to go to the top of a building you must go up step by step; otherwise it will be impossible that you should reach the top. Thus I say to you, whom nature prompts to pursue this art, if you wish to have a sound knowledge of the forms of objects begin with the details of them, and do not go on to the second [step] till you have the first well fixed in memory and in practice. And if you do otherwise you will throw away your time, or certainly greatly prolong your studies. And remember to acquire diligence rather than rapidity.



If you, who draw, desire to study well and to good purpose, always go slowly to work in your drawing; and discriminate in. the lights, which have the highest degree of brightness, and to what extent and likewise in the shadows, which are those that are darker than the others and in what way they intermingle; then their masses and the relative proportions of one to the other. And note in their outlines, which way they tend; and which part of the lines is curved to one side or the other, and where they are more or less conspicuous and consequently broad or fine; and finally, that your light and shade blend without strokes and borders [but] looking like smoke. And when you have thus schooled your hand and your judgment by such diligence, you will acquire rapidity before you are aware.

The artist's private life and choice of company (493-494).



A painter needs such mathematics as belong to painting. And the absence of all companions who are alienated from his studies; his brain must be easily impressed by the variety of objects, which successively come before him, and also free from other cares [Footnote 6: Leonardo here seems to be speaking of his own method of work as displayed in his MSS. and this passage explains, at least in part, the peculiarities in their arrangement.]. And if, when considering and defining one subject, a second subject intervenes--as happens when an object occupies the mind, then he must decide which of these cases is the more difficult to work out, and follow that up until it becomes quite clear, and then work out the explanation of the other [Footnote 11: Leonardo here seems to be speaking of his own method of work as displayed in his MSS. and this passage explains, at least in part, the peculiarities in their arrangement.]. And above all he must keep his mind as clear as the surface of a mirror, which assumes colours as various as those of the different objects. And his companions should be like him as to their studies, and if such cannot be found he should keep his speculations to himself alone, so that at last he will find no more useful company [than his own].

[Footnote: In the title line Leonardo had originally written _del pictore filosofo_ (the philosophical painter), but he himself struck out_filosofo_. Compare in No. 363 _pictora notomista_ (anatomical painter). The original text is partly reproduced on Pl. CI.]



To the end that well-being of the body may not injure that of the mind, the painter or draughtsman must remain solitary, and particularly when intent on those studies and reflections which will constantly rise up before his eye, giving materials to be well stored in the memory. While you are alone you are entirely your own [master] and if you have one companion you are but half your own, and the less so in proportion to the indiscretion of his behaviour. And if you have many companions you will fall deeper into the same trouble. If you should say: "I will go my own way and withdraw apart, the better to study the forms of natural objects", I tell you, you will not be able to help often listening to their chatter. And so, since one cannot serve two masters, you will badly fill the part of a companion, and carry out your studies of art even worse. And if you say: "I will withdraw so far that their words cannot reach me and they cannot disturb me", I can tell you that you will be thought mad. But, you see, you will at any rate be alone. And if you must have companions ship find it in your studio. This may assist you to have the advantages which arise from various speculations. All other company may be highly mischievous.

The distribution of time for studying (495-497).



I say and insist that drawing in company is much better than alone, for many reasons. The first is that you would be ashamed to be seen behindhand among the students, and such shame will lead you to careful study. Secondly, a wholesome emulation will stimulate you to be among those who are more praised than yourself, and this praise of others will spur you on. Another is that you can learn from the drawings of others who do better than yourself; and if you are better than they, you can profit by your contempt for their defects, while the praise of others will incite you to farther merits.

[Footnote: The contradiction by this passage of the foregoing chapter is only apparent. It is quite clear, from the nature of the reasoning which is here used to prove that it is more improving to work with others than to work alone, that the studies of pupils only are under consideration here.]



I myself have proved it to be of no small use, when in bed in the dark, to recall in fancy the external details of forms previously studied, or other noteworthy things conceived by subtle speculation; and this is certainly an admirable exercise, and useful for impressing things on the memory.



Winter evenings ought to be employed by young students in looking over the things prepared during the summer; that is, all the drawings from the nude done in the summer should be brought together and a choice made of the best [studies of] limbs and bodies among them, to apply in practice and commit to memory.


After this in the following summer you should select some one who is well grown and who has not been brought up in doublets, and so may not be of stiff carriage, and make him go through a number of agile and graceful actions; and if his muscles do not show plainly within the outlines of his limbs that does not matter at all. It is enough that you can see good attitudes and you can correct [the drawing of] the limbs by those you studied in the winter.

[Footnote: An injunction to study in the evening occurs also in No. 524.]

On the productive power of minor artists (498-501).


He is a poor disciple who does not excel his master.


Nor is the painter praiseworthy who does but one thing well, as the nude figure, heads, draperies, animals, landscapes or other such details, irrespective of other work; for there can be no mind so inept, that after devoting itself to one single thing and doing it constantly, it should fail to do it well.

[Footnote: In MANZI'S edition (p. 502) the painter G. G. Bossi indignantly remarks on this passage. "_Parla il Vince in questo luogo come se tutti gli artisti avessero quella sublimita d'ingegno capace di abbracciare tutte le cose, di cui era egli dotato"_ And he then mentions the case of CLAUDE LORRAIN. But he overlooks the fact that in Leonardo's time landscape painting made no pretensions to independence but was reckoned among the details (_particulari_, lines 3, 4).]



Some may distinctly assert that those persons are under a delusion who call that painter a good master who can do nothing well but a head or a figure. Certainly this is no great achievement; after studying one single thing for a life-time who would not have attained some perfection in it? But, since we know that painting embraces and includes in itself every object produced by nature or resulting from the fortuitous actions of men, in short, all that the eye can see, he seems to me but a poor master who can only do a figure well. For do you not perceive how many and various actions are performed by men only; how many different animals there are, as well as trees, plants, flowers, with many mountainous regions and plains, springs and rivers, cities with public and private buildings, machines, too, fit for the purposes of men, divers costumes, decorations and arts? And all these things ought to be regarded as of equal importance and value, by the man who can be termed a good painter.



Now there is a certain race of painters who, having studied but little, must need take as their standard of beauty mere gold and azure, and these, with supreme conceit, declare that they will not give good work for miserable payment, and that they could do as well as any other if they were well paid. But, ye foolish folks! cannot such artists keep some good work, and then say: this is a costly work and this more moderate and this is average work and show that they can work at all prices?

A caution against one-sided study.



Any master who should venture to boast that he could remember all the forms and effects of nature would certainly appear to me to be graced with extreme ignorance, inasmuch as these effects are infinite and our memory is not extensive enough to retain them. Hence, O! painter, beware lest the lust of gain should supplant in you the dignity of art; for the acquisition of glory is a much greater thing than the glory of riches. Hence, for these and other reasons which might be given, first strive in drawing to represent your intention to the eye by expressive forms, and the idea originally formed in your imagination; then go on taking out or putting in, until you have satisfied yourself. Then have living men, draped or nude, as you may have purposed in your work, and take care that in dimensions and size, as determined by perspective, nothing is left in the work which is not in harmony with reason and the effects in nature. And this will be the way to win honour in your art.

How to acquire universality (503-506).



The painter should aim at universality, because there is a great want of self-respect in doing one thing well and another badly, as many do who study only the [rules of] measure and proportion in the nude figure and do not seek after variety; for a man may be well proportioned, or he may be fat and short, or tall and thin, or medium. And a painter who takes no account of these varieties always makes his figures on one pattern so that they might all be taken for brothers; and this is a defect that demands stern reprehension.



Nature has beneficently provided that throughout the world you may find something to imitate.



It is an easy matter to men to acquire universality, for all terrestrial animals resemble each other as to their limbs, that is in their muscles, sinews and bones; and they do not vary excepting in length or in thickness, as will be shown under Anatomy. But then there are aquatic animals which are of great variety; I will not try to convince the painter that there is any rule for them for they are of infinite variety, and so is the insect tribe.



The mind of the painter must resemble a mirror, which always takes the colour of the object it reflects and is completely occupied by the images of as many objects as are in front of it. Therefore you must know, Oh Painter! that you cannot be a good one if you are not the universal master of representing by your art every kind of form produced by nature. And this you will not know how to do if you do not see them, and retain them in your mind. Hence as you go through the fields, turn your attention to various objects, and, in turn look now at this thing and now at that, collecting a store of divers facts selected and chosen from those of less value. But do not do like some painters who, when they are wearied with exercising their fancy dismiss their work from their thoughts and take exercise in walking for relaxation, but still keep fatigue in their mind which, though they see various objects [around them], does not apprehend them; but, even when they meet friends or relations and are saluted by them, although they see and hear them, take no more cognisance of them than if they had met so much empty air.

Useful games and exercises (507. 508).



When, Oh draughtsmen, you desire to find relaxation in games you should always practise such things as may be of use in your profession, by giving your eye good practice in judging accurately of the breadth and length of objects. Thus, to accustom your mind to such things, let one of you draw a straight line at random on a wall, and each of you, taking a blade of grass or of straw in his hand, try to cut it to the length that the line drawn appears to him to be, standing at a distance of 10 braccia; then each one may go up to the line to measure the length he has judged it to be. And he who has come nearest with his measure to the length of the pattern is the best man, and the winner, and shall receive the prize you have settled beforehand. Again you should take forshortened measures: that is take a spear, or any other cane or reed, and fix on a point at a certain distance; and let each one estimate how many times he judges that its length will go into that distance. Again, who will draw best a line one braccio long, which shall be tested by a thread. And such games give occasion to good practice for the eye, which is of the first importance in painting.



I cannot forbear to mention among these precepts a new device for study which, although it may seem but trivial and almost ludicrous, is nevertheless extremely useful in arousing the mind to various inventions. And this is, when you look at a wall spotted with stains, or with a mixture of stones, if you have to devise some scene, you may discover a resemblance to various landscapes, beautified with mountains, rivers, rocks, trees, plains, wide valleys and hills in varied arrangement; or again you may see battles and figures in action; or strange faces and costumes, and an endless variety of objects, which you could reduce to complete and well drawn forms. And these appear on such walls confusedly, like the sound of bells in whose jangle you may find any name or word you choose to imagine.



On the size of the studio.


Small rooms or dwellings discipline the mind, large ones weaken it.

On the construction of windows (510-512).


The larger the wall the less the light will be.


The different kinds of light afforded in cellars by various forms of windows. The least useful and the coldest is the window at _a_. The most useful, the lightest and warmest and most open to the sky is the window at _b_. The window at _c_ is of medium utility.

[Footnote: From a reference to the notes on the right light for painting it becomes evident that the observations made on cellar-windows have a direct bearing on the construction of the studio-window. In the diagram _b_ as well as in that under No. 510 the window-opening is reduced to a minimum, but only, it would seem, in order to emphasize the advantage of walls constructed on the plan there shown.]



The painter who works from nature should have a window, which he can raise and lower. The reason is that sometimes you will want to finish a thing you are drawing, close to the light.

Let _a b c d_ be the chest on which the work may be raised or lowered, so that the work moves up and down and not the painter. And every evening you can let down the work and shut it up above so that in the evening it may be in the fashion of a chest which, when shut up, may serve the purpose of a bench.

[Footnote: See Pl. XXXI, No. 2. In this plate the lines have unfortunately lost their sharpness, for the accidental loss of the negative has necessitated a reproduction from a positive. But having formerly published this sketch by another process, in VON LUTZOW'S _Zeitschrift fur bildende Kunst_ (Vol. XVII, pg. 13) I have reproduced it here in the text. The sharpness of the outline in the original sketch is here preserved but it gives it from the reversed side.]

On the best light for painting (513-520).


Which light is best for drawing from nature; whether high or low, or large or small, or strong and broad, or strong and small, or broad and weak or small and weak?

[Footnote: The question here put is unanswered in the original MS.]



A broad light high up and not too strong will render the details of objects very agreeable.



The light for drawing from nature should come from the North in order that it may not vary. And if you have it from the South, keep the window screened with cloth, so that with the sun shining the whole day the light may not vary. The height of the light should be so arranged as that every object shall cast a shadow on the ground of the same length as itself.



An object will display the greatest difference of light and shade when it is seen in the strongest light, as by sunlight, or, at night, by the light of a fire. But this should not be much used in painting because the works remain crude and ungraceful.

An object seen in a moderate light displays little difference in the light and shade; and this is the case towards evening or when the day is cloudy, and works then painted are tender and every kind of face becomes graceful. Thus, in every thing extremes are to be avoided: Too much light gives crudeness; too little prevents our seeing. The medium is best.


Again, lights cast from a small window give strong differences of light and shade, all the more if the room lighted by it be large, and this is not good for painting.



The luminous air which enters by passing through orifices in walls into dark rooms will render the place less dark in proportion as the opening cuts into the walls which surround and cover in the pavement.



In proportion to the number of times that _a b_ goes into _c d_ will it be more luminous than _c d_. And similarly, in proportion as the point _e_ goes into _c d_ will it be more luminous than _c d;_ and this light is useful for carvers of delicate work. [Footnote 5: For the same reason a window thus constructed would be convenient for an illuminator or a miniature painter.]

[Footnote: M. RAVAISSON in his edition of the Paris MS. A remarks on this passage: _"La figure porte les lettres_ f _et_ g, _auxquelles rien ne renvoie dans l'explication; par consequent, cette explication est incomplete. La figure semblerait, d'ailleurs, se rapporter a l'effet de la reflexion par un miroir concave."_ So far as I can see the text is not imperfect, nor is the sense obscure. It is hardly necessary to observe that _c d_ here indicate the wall of the room opposite to the window _e_ and the semicircle described by _f g_ stands for the arch of the sky; this occurs in various diagrams, for example under 511. A similar semicircle, Pl III, No. 2 (and compare No. 149) is expressly called '_orizonte_' in writing.]


That the light should fall upon a picture from one window only. This may be seen in the case of objects in this form. If you want to represent a round ball at a certain height you must make it oval in this shape, and stand so far off as that by foreshortening it appears round.



If you should have a court yard that you can at pleasure cover with a linen awning that light will be good. Or when you want to take a portrait do it in dull weather, or as evening falls, making the sitter stand with his back to one of the walls of the court yard. Note in the streets, as evening falls, the faces of the men and women, and when the weather is dull, what softness and delicacy you may perceive in them. Hence, Oh Painter! have a court arranged with the walls tinted black and a narrow roof projecting within the walls. It should be 10 braccia wide and 20 braccia long and 10 braccia high and covered with a linen awning; or else paint a work towards evening or when it is cloudy or misty, and this is a perfect light.

On various helps in preparing a picture (521-530).


To draw a nude figure from nature, or any thing else, hold in your hand a plumb-line to enable you to judge of the relative position of objects.



When you draw take care to set up a principal line which you must observe all throughout the object you are drawing; every thing should bear relation to the direction of this principal line.



Have a piece of glass as large as a half sheet of royal folio paper and set thus firmly in front of your eyes that is, between your eye and the thing you want to draw; then place yourself at a distance of 2/3 of a braccia from the glass fixing your head with a machine in such a way that you cannot move it at all. Then shut or entirely cover one eye and with a brush or red chalk draw upon the glass that which you see beyond it; then trace it on paper from the glass, afterwards transfer it onto good paper, and paint it if you like, carefully attending to the arial perspective.


If you want to acquire a practice of good and correct attitudes for your figures, make a square frame or net, and square it out with thread; place this between your eye and the nude model you are drawing, and draw these same squares on the paper on which you mean to draw the figure, but very delicately. Then place a pellet of wax on a spot of the net which will serve as a fixed point, which, whenever you look at your model, must cover the pit of the throat; or, if his back is turned, it may cover one of the vertebrae of the neck. Thus these threads will guide you as to each part of the body which, in any given attitude will be found below the pit of the throat, or the angles of the shoulders, or the nipples, or hips and other parts of the body; and the transverse lines of the net will show you how much the figure is higher over the leg on which it is posed than over the other, and the same with the hips, and the knees and the feet. But always fix the net perpendicularly so that all the divisions that you see the model divided into by the net work correspond with your drawing of the model on the net work you have sketched. The squares you draw may be as much smaller than those of the net as you wish that your figure should be smaller than nature. Afterwards remember when drawing figures, to use the rule of the corresponding proportions of the limbs as you have learnt it from the frame and net. This should be 3 braccia and a half high and 3 braccia wide; 7 braccia distant from you and 1 braccio from the model.

[Footnote: Leonardo is commonly credited with the invention of the arrangement of a plate of glass commonly known as the "vertical plane." Professor E. VON BRUCKE in his _"Bruchstucke aus der Theorie der bildenden Kunste,"_ Leipzig 1877, pg. 3, writes on this contrivance. _"Unsere Glastafel ist die sogenannte Glastafel des Leonardo da Vinci, die in Gestalt einer Glastafel vorgestellte Bildflache."_]



Place a sheet of not too transparent paper between the relievo and the light and you can draw thus very well.

[Footnote: Bodies thus illuminated will show on the surface of the paper how the copyist has to distribute light and shade.]


If you want to represent a figure on a wall, the wall being foreshortened, while the figure is to appear in its proper form, and as standing free from the wall, you must proceed thus: have a thin plate of iron and make a small hole in the centre; this hole must be round. Set a light close to it in such a position as that it shines through the central hole, then place any object or figure you please so close to the wall that it touches it and draw the outline of the shadow on the wall; then fill in the shade and add the lights; place the person who is to see it so that he looks through that same hole where at first the light was; and you will never be able to persuade yourself that the image is not detached from the wall.

[Footnote: _uno piccolo spiracelo nel mezzo_. M. RAVAISSON, in his edition of MS. A (Paris), p. 52, reads _nel muro_--evidently a mistake for _nel mezzo_ which is quite plainly written; and he translates it _"fait lui une petite ouverture dans le mur,"_ adding in a note: _"les mots 'dans le mur' paraissent etre de trop. Leonardo a du les ecrire par distraction"_ But _'nel mezzo'_ is clearly legible even on the photograph facsimile given by Ravaisson himself, and the objection he raises disappears at once. It is not always wise or safe to try to prove our author's absence of mind or inadvertence by apparent difficulties in the sense or connection of the text.]



If you wish to draw a figure or any other object to look 24 braccia high you must do it in this way. First, on the surface _m r_ draw half the man you wish to represent; then the other half; then put on the vault _m n_ [the rest of] the figure spoken of above; first set out the vertical plane on the floor of a room of the same shape as the wall with the coved part on which you are to paint your figure. Then, behind it, draw a figure set out in profile of whatever size you please, and draw lines from it to the point _f_ and, as these lines cut _m n_ on the vertical plane, so will the figure come on the wall, of which the vertical plane gives a likeness, and you will have all the [relative] heights and prominences of the figure. And the breadth or thickness which are on the upright wall _m n_ are to be drawn in their proper form, since, as the wall recedes the figure will be foreshortened by itself; but [that part of] the figure which goes into the cove you must foreshorten, as if it were standing upright; this diminution you must set out on a flat floor and there must stand the figure which is to be transferred from the vertical plane _r n_[Footnote 17: _che leverai dalla pariete r n_. The letters refer to the larger sketch, No. 3 on Pl. XXXI.] in its real size and reduce it once more on a vertical plane; and this will be a good method [Footnote 18: Leonardo here says nothing as to how the image foreshortened by perspective and thus produced on the vertical plane is to be transferred to the wall; but from what is said in Nos. 525 and 523 we may conclude that he was familiar with the process of casting the enlarged shadow of a squaring net on the surface of a wall to guide him in drawing the figure.

_Pariete di rilieuo; "sur une parai en relief"_ (RAVAISSON). _"Auf einer Schnittlinie zum Aufrichten"_ (LUDWIG). The explanation of this puzzling expression must be sought in No. 545, lines 15-17.].

[Footnote: See Pl. XXXI. 3. The second sketch, which in the plate is incomplete, is here reproduced and completed from the original to illustrate the text. In the original the larger diagram is placed between lines 5 and 6.

1. 2. C. A. 157a; 463a has the similar heading: '_del cressciere della figura_', and the text begins: "_Se voli fare 1a figura grande_ b c" but here it breaks off. The translation here given renders the meaning of the passage as I think it must be understood. The MS. is perfectly legible and the construction of the sentence is simple and clear; difficulties can only arise from the very fullness of the meaning, particularly towards the end of the passage.]


If you would to draw a cube in an angle of a wall, first draw the object in its own proper shape and raise it onto a vertical plane until it resembles the angle in which the said object is to be represented.


Why are paintings seen more correctly in a mirror than out of it?



When you want to see if your picture corresponds throughout with the objects you have drawn from nature, take a mirror and look in that at the reflection of the real things, and compare the reflected image with your picture, and consider whether the subject of the two images duly corresponds in both, particularly studying the mirror. You should take the mirror for your guide--that is to say a flat mirror--because on its surface the objects appear in many respects as in a painting. Thus you see, in a painting done on a flat surface, objects which appear in relief, and in the mirror--also a flat surface--they look the same. The picture has one plane surface and the same with the mirror. The picture is intangible, in so far as that which appears round and prominent cannot be grasped in the hands; and it is the same with the mirror. And since you can see that the mirror, by means of outlines, shadows and lights, makes objects appear in relief, you, who have in your colours far stronger lights and shades than those in the mirror, can certainly, if you compose your picture well, make that also look like a natural scene reflected in a large mirror.

[Footnote: I understand the concluding lines of this passage as follows: If you draw the upper half a figure on a large sheet of paper laid out on the floor of a room (_sala be piana_) to the same scale (_con le sue vere grosseze_) as the lower half, already drawn upon the wall (lines 10, 11)you must then reduce them on a '_pariete di rilievo_,' a curved vertical plane which serves as a model to reproduce the form of the vault.]



We know very well that errors are better recognised in the works of others than in our own; and that often, while reproving little faults in others, you may ignore great ones in yourself. To avoid such ignorance, in the first place make yourself a master of perspective, then acquire perfect knowledge of the proportions of men and other animals, and also, study good architecture, that is so far as concerns the forms of buildings and other objects which are on the face of the earth; these forms are infinite, and the better you know them the more admirable will your work be. And in cases where you lack experience do not shrink from drawing them from nature. But, to carry out my promise above [in the title]--I say that when you paint you should have a flat mirror and often look at your work as reflected in it, when you will see it reversed, and it will appear to you like some other painter's work, so you will be better able to judge of its faults than in any other way. Again, it is well that you should often leave off work and take a little relaxation, because, when you come back to it you are a better judge; for sitting too close at work may greatly deceive you. Again, it is good to retire to a distance because the work looks smaller and your eye takes in more of it at a glance and sees more easily the discords or disproportion in the limbs and colours of the objects.

On the management of works (531. 532).



When you want to know a thing you have studied in your memory proceed in this way: When you have drawn the same thing so many times that you think you know it by heart, test it by drawing it without the model; but have the model traced on flat thin glass and lay this on the drawing you have made without the model, and note carefully where the tracing does not coincide with your drawing, and where you find you have gone wrong; and bear in mind not to repeat the same mistakes. Then return to the model, and draw the part in which you were wrong again and again till you have it well in your mind. If you have no flat glass for tracing on, take some very thin kidts-kin parchment, well oiled and dried. And when you have used it for one drawing you can wash it clean with a sponge and make a second.



Certainly while a man is painting he ought not to shrink from hearing every opinion. For we know very well that a man, though he may not be a painter, is familiar with the forms of other men and very capable of judging whether they are hump backed, or have one shoulder higher or lower than the other, or too big a mouth or nose, and other defects; and, as we know that men are competent to judge of the works of nature, how much more ought we to admit that they can judge of our errors; since you know how much a man may be deceived in his own work. And if you are not conscious of this in yourself study it in others and profit by their faults. Therefore be curious to hear with patience the opinions of others, consider and weigh well whether those who find fault have ground or not for blame, and, if so amend; but, if not make as though you had not heard, or if he should be a man you esteem show him by argument the cause of his mistake.

On the limitations of painting (533-535)



In objects of minute size the extent of error is not so perceptible as in large ones; and the reason is that if this small object is a representation of a man or of some other animal, from the immense diminution the details cannot be worked out by the artist with the finish that is requisite. Hence it is not actually complete; and, not being complete, its faults cannot be determined. For instance: Look at a man at a distance of 300 braccia and judge attentively whether he be handsome or ugly, or very remarkable or of ordinary appearance. You will find that with the utmost effort you cannot persuade yourself to decide. And the reason is that at such a distance the man is so much diminished that the character of the details cannot be determined. And if you wish to see how much this man is diminished [by distance] hold one of your fingers at a span's distance from your eye, and raise or lower it till the top joint touches the feet of the figure you are looking at, and you will see an incredible reduction. For this reason we often doubt as to the person of a friend at a distance.



Painters often fall into despair of imitating nature when they see their pictures fail in that relief and vividness which objects have that are seen in a mirror; while they allege that they have colours which for brightness or depth far exceed the strength of light and shade in the reflections in the mirror, thus displaying their own ignorance rather than the real cause, because they do not know it. It is impossible that painted objects should appear in such relief as to resemble those reflected in the mirror, although both are seen on a flat surface, unless they are seen with only one eye; and the reason is that two eyes see one object behind another as _a_ and _b_ see _m_ and _n_. _m_ cannot exactly occupy [the space of] _n_ because the base of the visual lines is so broad that the second body is seen beyond the first. But if you close one eye, as at _s_ the body _f_ will conceal _r_, because the line of sight proceeds from a single point and makes its base in the first body, whence the second, of the same size, can never be seen.

[Footnote: This passage contains the solution of the problem proposed in No. 29, lines 10-14. Leonardo was evidently familiar with the law of optics on which the construction of the stereoscope depends. Compare E. VON BRUCKE, _Bruchstucke aus der Theorie der bildenden Kunste_, pg. 69: "_Schon Leonardo da Vinci wusste, dass ein noch so gut gemaltes Bild nie den vollen Eindruck der Korperlichkeit geben kann, wie ihn die Natur selbst giebt. Er erklart dies auch in Kap. LIII und Kap. CCCXLI_ (ed. DU FRESNE) _des_ 'Trattato' _in sachgemasser Weise aus dem Sehen mit beiden Augen_."

Chap. 53 of DU FRESNE'S edition corresponds to No. 534 of this work.]



The reason of this is not so easy to demonstrate as many others. Still I will endeavour to accomplish it, if not wholly, at any rate in part. The perspective of diminution demonstrates by reason, that objects diminish in proportion as they are farther from the eye, and this reasoning is confirmed by experience. Hence, the lines of sight that extend between the object and the eye, when they are directed to the surface of a painting are all intersected at uniform limits, while those lines which are directed towards a piece of sculpture are intersected at various limits and are of various lengths. The lines which are longest extend to a more remote limb than the others and therefore that limb looks smaller. As there are numerous lines each longer than the others--since there are numerous parts, each more remote than the others and these, being farther off, necessarily appear smaller, and by appearing smaller it follows that their diminution makes the whole mass of the object look smaller. But this does not occur in painting; since the lines of sight all end at the same distance there can be no diminution, hence the parts not being diminished the whole object is undiminished, and for this reason painting does not diminish, as a piece of sculpture does.

On the choice of a position (536-537)



The point of sight must be at the level of the eye of an ordinary man, and the farthest limit of the plain where it touches the sky must be placed at the level of that line where the earth and sky meet; excepting mountains, which are independent of it.



The painter must always study on the wall on which he is to picture a story the height of the position where he wishes to arrange his figures; and when drawing his studies for them from nature he must place himself with his eye as much below the object he is drawing as, in the picture, it will have to be above the eye of the spectator. Otherwise the work will look wrong.

The apparent size of figures in a picture (538-539)



You must make the foremost figure in the picture less than the size of nature in proportion to the number of braccia at which you place it from the front line, and make the others in proportion by the above rule.



You are asked, O Painter, why the figures you draw on a small scale according to the laws of perspective do not appear--notwithstanding the demonstration of distance--as large as real ones--their height being the same as in those painted on the wall.

And why [painted] objects seen at a small distance appear larger than the real ones?

The right position of the artist, when painting, and of the spectator (540-547)



When you draw from nature stand at a distance of 3 times the height of the object you wish to draw.



In drawing from the round the draughtsman should so place himself that the eye of the figure he is drawing is on a level with his own. This should be done with any head he may have to represent from nature because, without exception, the figures or persons you meet in the streets have their eyes on the same level as your own; and if you place them higher or lower you will see that your drawing will not be true.



The universal practice which painters adopt on the walls of chapels is greatly and reasonably to be condemned. Inasmuch as they represent one historical subject on one level with a landscape and buildings, and then go up a step and paint another, varying the point [of sight], and then a third and a fourth, in such a way as that on one wall there are 4 points of sight, which is supreme folly in such painters. We know that the point of sight is opposite the eye of the spectator of the scene; and if you would [have me] tell you how to represent the life of a saint divided into several pictures on one and the same wall, I answer that you must set out the foreground with its point of sight on a level with the eye of the spectator of the scene, and upon this plane represent the more important part of the story large and then, diminishing by degrees the figures, and the buildings on various hills and open spaces, you can represent all the events of the history. And on the remainder of the wall up to the top put trees, large as compared with the figures, or angels if they are appropriate to the story, or birds or clouds or similar objects; otherwise do not trouble yourself with it for your whole work will be wrong.



If you want to represent an object near to you which is to have the effect of nature, it is impossible that your perspective should not look wrong, with every false relation and disagreement of proportion that can be imagined in a wretched work, unless the spectator, when he looks at it, has his eye at the very distance and height and direction where the eye or the point of sight was placed in doing this perspective. Hence it would be necessary to make a window, or rather a hole, of the size of your face through which you can look at the work; and if you do this, beyond all doubt your work, if it is correct as to light and shade, will have the effect of nature; nay you will hardly persuade yourself that those objects are painted; otherwise do not trouble yourself about it, unless indeed you make your view at least 20 times as far off as the greatest width or height of the objects represented, and this will satisfy any spectator placed anywhere opposite to the picture.

If you want the proof briefly shown, take a piece of wood in the form of a little column, eight times as high as it is thick, like a column without any plinth or capital; then mark off on a flat wall 40 equal spaces, equal to its width so that between them they make 40 columns resembling your little column; you then must fix, opposite the centre space, and at 4 braccia from the wall, a thin strip of iron with a small round hole in the middle about as large as a big pearl. Close to this hole place a light touching it. Then place your column against each mark on the wall and draw the outline of its shadow; afterwards shade it and look through the hole in the iron plate.

[Footnote: In the original there is a wide space between lines 3 and 4 in which we find two sketches not belonging to the text. It is unnecessary to give prominence to the points in which my reading differs from that of M. RAVAISSON or to justify myself, since they are all of secondary importance and can also be immediately verified from the photograph facsimile in his edition.]


A diminished object should be seen from the same distance, height and direction as the point of sight of your eye, or else your knowledge will produce no good effect.

And if you will not, or cannot, act on this principle--because as the plane on which you paint is to be seen by several persons you would need several points of sight which would make it look discordant and wrong--place yourself at a distance of at least 10 times the size of the objects.

The lesser fault you can fall into then, will be that of representing all the objects in the foreground of their proper size, and on whichever side you are standing the objects thus seen will diminish themselves while the spaces between them will have no definite ratio. For, if you place yourself in the middle of a straight row [of objects], and look at several columns arranged in a line you will see, beyond a few columns separated by intervals, that the columns touch; and beyond where they touch they cover each 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 columns.

[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.



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.



Gradations of light and shade.



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).



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.



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 beginning.



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.



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 [6]; 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.



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.



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)



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 the reflections.



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.



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.



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 are cast.

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] perspective.



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 that [shadow].

On the lighting of the background (562-565).



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.



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 themselves.


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.



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).



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.


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.



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 sketching figures and portraits (571-572).



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 masters.

[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 open air.]



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.



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. (No. 319).]

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 [12]. 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).



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.]



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 be darkest.

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 many figures.



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 leisure.

[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 work.


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 MS.]


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 instance.]

Of representing the emotions.



That figure is most admirable which by its actions best expresses the passion that animates it.


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.


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.



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 tortoise.

[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.



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.



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.



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.



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.



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.]



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.]



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 baseness.



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 doing.


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.



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.


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 admirable.



Of painting battle pieces (601-603).



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 [19]. 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 [23]. 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.



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.



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 intolerable glare.

Of depicting a tempest (605. 606).


Describe a wind on land and at sea. Describe a storm of rain.



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).



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 [15] 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.].



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 [19]. 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 air.

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.]



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 [14]. 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 [54] 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 to 54.]

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 [16] rains.

[17] 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 painting.

[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 spectator.

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.



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 hot stone.


Chalk dissolves in wine and in vinegar or in aqua fortis and can be recombined with gum.



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 altri_."]


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 white.



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'.



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 painting.


Grind verdigris many times coloured with lemon juice and keep it away from yellow (?).

Of preparing the panel.



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 passages:

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] qu'il_" etc.

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.



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.



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 never harden.

[Footnote: The same remark applies to these sections as to No. 618 and 619.]

On varnishes [or powders] (635-637).



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.


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.



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.



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 possible.

[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.



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 blaze.



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.



The relation of art and nature (651. 652).


What is fair in men, passes away, but not so in art.



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).



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 [29]. 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).



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, nor reflected lights, nor lustrous bodies--as mirrors and the like polished surfaces, nor mists, nor dark skies, nor an infinite number of things which need not be told for fear of tedium. As regards the power of resisting time, though they have this resistance [Footnote 19: From what is here said as to painting on copper it is very evident that Leonardo was not acquainted with the method of painting in oil on thin copper plates, introduced by the Flemish painters of the XVIIth century. J. LERMOLIEFF has already pointed out that in the various collections containing pictures by the great masters of the Italian Renaissance, those painted on copper (for instance the famous reading Magdalen in the Dresden Gallery) are the works of a much later date (see _Zeitschrift fur bildende Kunst_. Vol. X pg. 333, and: _Werke italienischer Master in den Galerien von Munchen, Dresden und Berlin_. Leipzig 1880, pg. 158 and 159.)--Compare No. 654, 29.], a picture painted on thick copper covered with white enamel on which it is painted with enamel colours and then put into the fire again and baked, far exceeds sculpture in permanence. It may be said that if a mistake is made it is not easy to remedy it; it is but a poor argument to try to prove that a work be the nobler because oversights are irremediable; I should rather say that it will be more difficult to improve the mind of the master who makes such mistakes than to repair the work he has spoilt.


We know very well that a really experienced and good painter will not make such mistakes; on the contrary, with sound rules he will remove so little at a time that he will bring his work to a good issue. Again the sculptor if working in clay or wax, can add or reduce, and when his model is finished it can easily be cast in bronze, and this is the last operation and is the most permanent form of sculpture. Inasmuch as that which is merely of marble is liable to ruin, but not bronze. Hence a painting done on copper which as I said of painting may be added to or altered, resembles sculpture in bronze, which, having first been made in wax could then be altered or added to; and if sculpture in bronze is durable, this work in copper and enamel is absolutely imperishable. Bronze is but dark and rough after all, but this latter is covered with various and lovely colours in infinite variety, as has been said above; or if you will have me only speak of painting on panel, I am content to pronounce between it and sculpture; saying that painting is the more beautiful and the more imaginative and the more copious, while sculpture is the more durable but it has nothing else. Sculpture shows with little labour what in painting appears a miraculous thing to do; to make what is impalpable appear palpable, flat objects appear in relief, distant objects seem close. In fact painting is adorned with infinite possibilities which sculpture cannot command.

Aphorisms (657-659).



Men and words are ready made, and you, O Painter, if you do not know how to make your figures move, are like an orator who knows not how to use his words.


As soon as the poet ceases to represent in words what exists in nature, he in fact ceases to resemble the painter; for if the poet, leaving such representation, proceeds to describe the flowery and flattering speech of the figure, which he wishes to make the speaker, he then is an orator and no longer a poet nor a painter. And if he speaks of the heavens he becomes an astrologer, and philosopher; and a theologian, if he discourses of nature or God. But, if he restricts himself to the description of objects, he would enter the lists against the painter, if with words he could satisfy the eye as the painter does.


Though you may be able to tell or write the exact description of forms, the painter can so depict them that they will appear alive, with the shadow and light which show the expression of a face; which you cannot accomplish with the pen though it can be achieved by the brush.

On the history of painting (660. 661).



Hence the painter will produce pictures of small merit if he takes for his standard the pictures of others. But if he will study from natural objects he will bear good fruit; as was seen in the painters after the Romans who always imitated each other and so their art constantly declined from age to age. After these came Giotto the Florentine who--not content with imitating the works of Cimabue his master--being born in the mountains and in a solitude inhabited only by goats and such beasts, and being guided by nature to his art, began by drawing on the rocks the movements of the goats of which he was keeper. And thus he began to draw all the animals which were to be found in the country, and in such wise that after much study he excelled not only all the masters of his time but all those of many bygone ages. Afterwards this art declined again, because everyone imitated the pictures that were already done; thus it went on from century to century until Tomaso, of Florence, nicknamed Masaccio, showed by his perfect works how those who take for their standard any one but nature--the mistress of all masters--weary themselves in vain. And, I would say about these mathematical studies that those who only study the authorities and not the works of nature are descendants but not sons of nature the mistress of all good authors. Oh! how great is the folly of those who blame those who learn from nature [Footnote 22: _lasciando stare li autori_. In this observation we may detect an indirect evidence that Leonardo regarded his knowledge of natural history as derived from his own investigations, as well as his theories of perspective and optics. Compare what he says in praise of experience (Vol II; _XIX_).], setting aside those authorities who themselves were the disciples of nature.


That the first drawing was a simple line drawn round the shadow of a man cast by the sun on a wall.

The painter's scope.


The painter strives and competes with nature.