Rembrandt’s, Da Vinci’s eyes and art


In Rembrandt’s 1639 etching, Self-Portrait, Leaning on a Stone Wall, the eye on the left looks straight ahead while the eye on the right faces slightly outward. Gift of John J. Glessner III, 1947/The Metropolitan Museum of Art

In Rembrandt’s 1639 etching, Self-Portrait, Leaning on a Stone Wall, the eye on the left looks straight ahead while the eye on the right faces slightly outward. Gift of John J. Glessner III, 1947/The Metropolitan Museum of Art” title=”In Rembrandt’s 1639 etching, Self-Portrait, Leaning on a Stone Wall, the eye on the left looks straight ahead while the eye on the right faces slightly outward.

By Sofie Bates, December 9, 2019 at 6:00 am:

Why Rembrandt and da Vinci may have painted themselves with skewed eyes

Scientists are still debating if the cause was an eye disorder or one strongly dominant eye

A strongly dominant eye, not an eye disorder, may explain why Leonardo da Vinci and Rembrandt van Rijn painted themselves with misaligned eyes.

Previous research suggested that the famous artists may have had a literal artist’s eye — an eye disorder called exotropia in which one eye turns outward. Exotropia makes it harder for the brain to use input from both eyes to see in 3-D, so it must rely on 2-D cues to see depth. This gives people with the disorder a “flattened” view of the world, which could give artists who work on flat surfaces like canvas an advantage.

But using trigonometry and photographs of people looking into a mirror, David Guyton, an ophthalmologist at Johns Hopkins University, and his colleague Ahmed Shakarchi, conclude that the artists could have had eyes that faced straight ahead after all. The researchers published their analysis November 27 in JAMA Ophthalmology.

The brains of people who have a strongly dominant eye will favor whatever that eye sees. So when people with a strongly dominant eye look closely in a mirror — like, say, artists leaning in to get details needed to paint a self-portrait — they could perceive that they have exotropia even if that’s not true, Guyton says.

For instance, a person with a strongly dominant eye and eyes six centimeters apart who was sitting 16.5 centimeters from a mirror would wrongly perceive that the weaker eye is turned outward at a 10.3-degree angle, the researchers found. That angle is consistent with the eye angle portrayed in some artworks painted by or modeled after da Vinci.

“It is a clever idea,” says Christopher Tyler, a visual neuroscientist at the City University of London whose previous analysis of six pieces of art — some by da Vinci himself and some for which it’s suspected he was the model — suggested that da Vinci had exotropia (SN: 10/22/18). In many of those works, the eyes appear misaligned.

For the geometry of the strong eye explanation to work, Tyler says, the artist would have to sit “unrealistically close” to the mirror, especially for some of Rembrandt’s half-length, self-portraits or for the painting Salvator Mundi, which da Vinci may have partially modeled after himself. And it doesn’t fully explain why statues that were sculpted in da Vinci’s likeness by other artists also show apparent exotropia, Tyler says.

Bevil Conway, a neurobiologist at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., says both explanations are plausible. A common trick among artists is to shut one eye and hold out a thumb to get a sense of how a three-dimensional world looks in 2-D. Both exotropia and a strongly dominant eye could have a similar “flattening” effect, which could have helped da Vinci and Rembrandt bring a 3-D world to life on flat canvases.

“The debate is still open, and the answer is that we can never know,” Conway says.

Leonardo da Vinci exhibition, Liverpool, England


The head of Leda, by Leonardo da Vinci, c1505-8

From daily The Morning Star in Britain, 30 January 2018:

LIVERPOOL/NATIONWIDE

Leonardo da Vinci: A Life in Drawing
Walker Art Gallery
Until May 6

This free exhibition of 12 Leonardo da Vinci drawings, coinciding with 11 other simultaneous shows nationally, marks the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance master‘s death. It explores the diversity of subjects that inspired his creativity, including painting, sculpture, architecture, music, anatomy, engineering, cartography, geology and botany.

And it presents new information about his working practices and creative process, gathered through scientific research using ultraviolet imaging, infrared reflectography and X-ray fluorescence.

Leonardo da Vinci’s caricatures exhibited in Dutch Haarlem


Caricature by Leonardo da Vinci. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

Translated from Annephine van Uchelen in the Netherlands today:

Astonishment, joy and blind anger: it can all be seen on the dozens of sketches of faces made by Leonardo da Vinci. He drew the faces as ‘mirrors of the soul’. And sometimes he also took ‘revenge with the pen’ on those who mocked him because he was ‘different’.

The works can be seen from this Friday on in the Teylers Museum in Haarlem, which takes an advance with this exhibition on the international Da Vinci year 2019. It is striking that the Netherlands kicks off and not Italy. While Da Vinci still counts as one of the best export products in the cultural field in his native country.

When Italian merchants of death corporation Finmeccanica, linked to convicted criminal racist mafia crony politician Silvio Berlusconi, was entangled in its umpteenth corruption scandal, these war profiteers whitewashed themselves by changing the corporation name to ‘Leonardo’. The real Leonardo hated money-grabbers.

Caricature by Leonardo da Vinci. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

The land of Rembrandt and Van Gogh is very much ahead of the troops, some countries think. But the exhibition goes ahead – also in the context of 500th anniversary of the artist’s death. …

This exhibition is unique and will not be seen again soon in the Netherlands for the next forty years. …

Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452 in Anchiano, near Florence. He is seen as all-rounder: he was, among other things, a visual artist, inventor, architect, philosopher, physicist and chemist.

Someone who has seen Da Vinci’s most famous painting, the lovely Mona Lisa, may have to get used to the sketches. The deformed faces and tronies would not be out of place as illustrations in a horror story: toothless men with sunken mouths and hook noses, curious headgear, beaked mouths and faces expressing blind fury.

“You would like to call Da Vinci the inventor of the caricature, but unfortunately we have never been able to link his work to famous names and people”, says guest curator Michael Kwakkelstein.

Caricature by Leonardo da Vinci. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

“Unique for that time was that he also incorporated emotions, sometimes he went to the city gate to study the faces of tramps and travelers in preparation for his sketches.” …

“He was an illegitimate child“, says Kwakkelstein. “And he was not taken seriously by other scientists, because he did not do university studies and did not know Latin, and he was almost certainly homosexual.”

According to Kwakkelstein, some sketches seem to be a reckoning with his critical fellow men and impatient clients. “He has mocked them by deforming their features.”

Caricature by Leonardo da Vinci. Royal Collection Trust / © Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2018

The museum did not get Da Vinci’s works without a struggle. Kwakkelstein: “Teylers Museum does not have any Da Vinci sketches in its collection, which is not an easy basis to ask for the already fragile works on loan, let alone from the Royal Collections of Windsor Castle, where most of the sketches come from.”

The fact that the British Queen Elizabeth gave permission has to do with earlier exhibitions by Teylers about the two other Renaissance figures Michelangelo (2005) and Raphael (2012). The Haarlem museum does have a large collection of their work, which is world-famous.

The exhibition can be seen from October 5 in Teylers Museum in Haarlem. Due to the expected crowds, a ticket must be booked online in advance.

An eye disorder may have given Leonardo da Vinci an artistic edge. A neuroscientist offers evidence that the artist had exotropia, in which one eye turns outward. By Amanda B. Keener, 6:00am, October 22, 2018.

New Leonardo da Vinci discovery?


The painting appears to be a completed, painted version of a pencil sketch drawn by Leonardo da Vinci in Mantua in the Lombardy region of northern Italy in 1499

From the Daily Telegraph in Britain:

Leonardo da Vinci painting lost for centuries found in Swiss bank vault

It was lost for so long that it had assumed mythical status for art historians. Some doubted whether it even existed.

By Nick Squires, Rome

3:32PM BST 04 Oct 2013

But a 500-year-old mystery was apparently solved today after a painting attributed to Leonardo da Vinci was discovered in a Swiss bank vault.

The painting, which depicts Isabella d’Este, a Renaissance noblewoman, was found in a private collection of 400 works kept in a Swiss bank by an Italian family who asked not to be identified.

It appears to be a completed, painted version of a pencil sketch drawn by Leonardo da Vinci in Mantua in the Lombardy region of northern Italy in 1499.

The sketch, the apparent inspiration for the newly found work, hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

For centuries it had been debated whether Leonardo had actually had the time or inclination to develop the sketch into a painted portrait.

After seeing the drawing he produced, the marquesa wrote to the artist, imploring him to produce a full-blown painting.

But shortly afterwards he embarked on one of his largest works, The Battle of Anghiari on the walls of Florence’s town hall, and then, in 1503, started working on the Mona Lisa.

Art historians had long believed he simply ran out of time — or lost interest — in completing the commission for Isabella d’Este.

Now it appears that he did in fact manage to finish the project — perhaps when he encountered the aristocrat, one of the most influential female figures of her day, in Rome in 1514.

Scientific tests suggest that the oil portrait is indeed the work of da Vinci, according to Carlo Pedretti, a professor emeritus of art history and an expert in Leonardo studies at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“There are no doubts that the portrait is the work of Leonardo,” Prof Pedretti, a recognised expert in authenticating disputed works by Da Vinci, told Corriere della Sera newspaper.

“I can immediately recognise Da Vinci’s handiwork, particularly in the woman’s face.”

Tests have shown that the type of pigment in the portrait was the same as that used by Leonardo and that the primer used to treat the canvas on which it was painted corresponds to that employed by the Renaissance genius.

Carbon dating, conducted by a mass spectrometry laboratory at the University of Arizona, has shown that there is a 95 per cent probability that the portrait was painted between 1460 and 1650.

But there needs to be further analysis to determine whether certain elements of the portrait — notably a golden tiara on the noblewoman’s head and a palm leaf held in her hand like a sceptre — were the work of Leonardo or one of his pupils, Prof Pedretti said.

A likely contender would be Gian Giacomo Caprotti, nicknamed Salai, who began working with Leonardo as a child and is believed to have become his lover.

He is believed to have entered Leonardo’s household around 1490, when he was about 10 years old.

Working as the artist’s apprentice for the next 20 years, he acquired the nickname Salai, or Little Devil. He was the subject of several erotic drawings produced by the Renaissance master.

The newly discovered portrait, which measures 24in by 18in, does bear a striking similarity to the Leonardo sketch held by the Louvre — the woman’s posture, her hairstyle and her dress are almost identical, while her enigmatic smile recalls that of the Mona Lisa.

Martin Kemp, professor emeritus of the history of art at Trinity College, Oxford, and one of the world’s foremost experts on da Vinci, said if the find was authenticated it would be worth “tens of millions of pounds” because there are only 15 to 20 genuine da Vinci works in the world.

But he raised doubts about whether the painting was really the work of Leonardo.

The portrait found in Switzerland is painted on canvas, whereas Leonardo favoured wooden boards.

“Canvas was not used by Leonardo or anyone in his production line,” Prof Kemp told The Daily Telegraph. “Although with Leonardo, the one thing I have learnt is never to be surprised.”

There are further doubts – Leonardo gave away his original sketch to the marquesa, so he would not have been able to refer to it later in order to paint a full oil version.

“You can’t rule out the possibility but it seems unlikely,” Prof Kemp said.

It was more likely to have been produced by one of the many artists operating in northern Italy who copied Leonardo’s works.