The secrets of Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings revealed

Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most famous and at the same time enigmatic artists in history, whose work is filled with secrets and mysteries. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Artist’s manner

Secrets of Leonardo da Vinci's paintings: what secrets the famous artist hid in his works
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Leonardo da Vinci, in principle, does not have such works on which a person would sit in profile.

In his paintings, in most cases, the characters are located in a half-turn towards the viewer, regardless of whether these were the first or last works of the artist. With the help of a complex pose of the hero, Leonardo wanted to breathe life into the images that are present in his paintings.

In this manner of the artist, researchers are currently able to determine whether this or that painting belongs to the great creator, or was made by one of his students.

You might be interested in: Paintings by famous artists, in which details are hidden that are invisible to the viewer

Own vision

“Madonna of the Rocks” is one of the first works of Leonardo da Vinci, which is also one of his most scandalous works. The painting was commissioned by the monks.

Secrets of Leonardo da Vinci's paintings: what secrets the famous artist hid in his works
Madonna of the rocks
Photo Wikipedia

Performing it, the creator almost completely departed from the necessary canons. The heroes of the picture are more like ordinary people than saints, which, of course, caused outrage. Moreover, the heroes were not in the temple.

The painting depicts a scene that is absent in the Gospels, but is known from the Apocrypha.

According to the apocryphal Proto-Gospel of James, the baby Jesus met John during his flight to Egypt (Herod ordered to exterminate all male infants). At the time when Mary, Joseph and Christ, like John and his mother Elizabeth, were hiding in the wilderness at this time.

Unfinished paintings

This is probably the artist’s favorite technique, which he often used in his work. It consists in the fact that many of his works are unfinished.

Sometimes the artist could do just a couple of brush strokes and switch to another work, leaving the first unfinished.

Most likely, this is due to the fact that Leonardo perceived time differently than his other contemporaries.

He argued that the Earth is much older than everyone thought, so it was common for him to paint pictures for decades, since this period is nothing compared to the age of the Earth.

For example, da Vinci wrote his most famous work “Mona Lisa” for the rest of his life, constantly adding new details for 16 years!

Secrets of Leonardo da Vinci's paintings: what secrets the famous artist hid in his works
Mona lisa
Madonna of the rocks
Photo Wikipedia

History in pictures

In early Christian frescoes in the Roman catacombs, scientists have found some images painted on the walls. These caves were rediscovered during the lifetime of Leonardo da Vinci.

The artist was inspired and possibly completely rewrote some of the images presented. For example, the Virgin Mary on one of the walls of the catacombs looks like Madonna Litta.

And next to her is John the Baptist, whose pointing gesture is exactly similar to that depicted in the famous painting by Leonardo “John the Baptist”.

Secrets of Leonardo da Vinci's paintings: what secrets the famous artist hid in his works
John the Baptist
Photo Wikipedia

And if we place both works of the artist side by side, then we get just the same picture from the catacombs.

“The Last Supper”

The Last Supper is a fresco by Leonardo da Vinci located in the Dominican monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.

Secrets of Leonardo da Vinci's paintings: what secrets the famous artist hid in his works
Last Supper Photo Wikipedia

Few of the observers look at this fresco from the right angle, perhaps because they do not realize the need for it. But Leonardo created it with a specific intention, which it is desirable to know about everyone who has ever seen this work live.

The real space of the monastery smoothly merges into the space depicted in the painting. From the shadows of the depicted objects, you can see that the light falls on them from the left. In the room in which the fresco is located, the windows are located on the left.

The dishes and tablecloths were also painted in the same way as in the refectory itself. That is, the artist created the impression that you are sitting, eating, and the action of The Last Supper unfolds at the next table.

Important details

Madonna stands against the background of two windows, in which the mountain ranges and the sky are visible. This view also opens from the windows of the monastery, where the work “The Last Supper” is located. There is an assumption that this is how the artist wanted to connect the two events.

You can see that Madonna’s dress has 2 breastfeeding cutouts, which, however, were sewn on. But the seams on the right side are torn. Probably, Madonna planned to wean the baby, so the cutouts were sewn up, but she could not resist the baby’s tears and tore the dress again.

The fact is that from about 1300, noble ladies stopped breastfeeding their children, hiring a wet nurse. Leonardo’s mother, most likely, continued to breastfeed the baby, because she was a poor peasant woman.

Unfortunately, at the age of 5, he was separated from her, as a wealthy father wanted to see his illegitimate son next to him. This is probably why Leonardo writes out the image of his mother in paintings with such awe, as if he misses her.

“Mona Lisa” – a mysterious girl

The real identity of the girl depicted in the most famous portrait created by Leonardo da Vinci remains a mystery.

Most scholars believe the woman is 24-year-old Lisa Maria de Gherardini, an Italian noblewoman. However, the Mona Lisa in the Louvre painting is clearly older. Now historians put forward several personalities who could be the heroine of this picture.

“Mona Lisa from Prado”

Until 2012, little attention was paid to this “Mona Lisa”, but one day the restorers cleaned up the black background of the painting. Under the dark paint was an exact copy of the background of the painting from the Louvre, which undoubtedly surprised and amazed everyone, suggesting that she was the same mysterious woman.

“Flora” from the Hermitage

Another contender for the title of the true “Mona Lisa”. The author of the picture called her Gioconda. Basically, girls have visual similarities. Although there is an argument against this version – it is unlikely that the husband would allow his wife to pose with completely naked breasts, which is what we see in the picture.

“Mona Lisa Iselworth”

This portrait was opened to the public about 100 years ago. They put forward a version that this is the same “Mona Lisa”.

In this case, the origin of the Louvre Mona Lisa is explained by the fact that Leonardo wrote it later and for himself, taking as a basis the familiar image of Signora Giocondo.

Native home

You may notice that Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings depict many plants, which he also described in his notebook.

Growing up in the countryside, Leonardo never missed the opportunity to depict a piece of the plant world in his works. Even the traditional craft of his native place – weaving baskets from willow twigs – is reflected in the weaving of braids on the sketch of Leda’s head.

“Virgin Mary with babies and the Archangel”

On this canvas, the Archangel and Jesus point with their fingers to where the mirror should be placed. This is clearly visible if you attach the mirror vertically to the panel in the direction of the Virgin Mary.

Secrets of Leonardo da Vinci's paintings: what secrets the famous artist hid in his works
Virgin Mary with babies and the Archangel
Photo Wikipedia

It can be argued that Leonardo da Vinci was not only a talented, but at the same time a brilliant artist who thought out his work to the smallest detail.

“Salvator Mundi”

This portrait, full of mysteries and oddities, has both real and unreal character. The picture is also called “The Man of Mona Lisa”, based on the calm expression on the face of the hero, which is similar to that very mysterious girl.

Historians are confused by the solid glass ball that the hero of the picture holds in his hand. William Henry suggests that it may be a cintamani – a heavenly stone.

Secrets of Leonardo da Vinci's paintings: what secrets the famous artist hid in his works
Salvator Mundi
Photo Wikipedia

Perhaps da Vinci wanted to show us that the crystal ball is a symbol of a source of energy beyond human understanding, or the power of the universe itself.

“Adoration of the Magi”

Leonardo’s mysterious “Adoration” is one of his unfinished works, and, moreover, is in an unsatisfactory state.

Art critics have long suspected that later the paint was not applied by Leonardo’s hand. The dark brown strokes in the foreground are definitely much rougher than the gentle forms of the worshipers.

Secrets of Leonardo da Vinci's paintings: what secrets the famous artist hid in his works
Adoration of the Magi
Photo Wikipedia

It seems that the artist felt the need to build the temple first before subjecting it to imaginary destruction.

Some conspiracy theorists suggest this is a preparatory sketch for his unfinished Adoration of the Magi.

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