Leonardo’s Secret Perspective Cover Image

Leonardo’s Secret Perspective
Leonardo’s Secret Perspective

Author(s): István Orosz
Subject(s): Fine Arts / Performing Arts
Published by: BL Nonprofit Kft

Summary/Abstract: Compiled from Leonardo’s manuscript pages, the Codex Atlanticus contains two strange sketches, two oddly elongated figures. They are both sepia drawings. They are also baffling to the eye at first glance, but if you look at them from a flat oblique angle from the right rather than from straight on as normal, they reveal both an infant’s head and an eye. Art historians call this type of image anamorphosis, and commonly cite Leonardo’s Eye and Head of an Infant as the very first examples of anamorphic representation that we know of. The Codex Atlanticus is kept in the collection Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan, which is probably where the drawings themselves were made. At the time, the city was mostly under French rule, and its French governors, Charles d’Amboise and Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, became Leonardo’s chief patrons after he was invited to Milan by Lodovico Sforza. Between 1515 and 1521, the office of vice governor was held by Jean de Selve, father of Georges de Selve, the man on the right portrayed in Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors, perhaps the most well-known anamorphic painting in art history. The future bishop, who lived in Milan from the age of six to twelve, was not fortunate enough to have known Leonardo in his lifetime, but he undoubtedly would have heard a great deal about the revered artist, not least as the designer of the ornate court ceremonies where the theatrical effects were heightened by perspectivist, indeed probably anamorphic, visual elements. Leonardo lived in Milan between 1482 and 1499 working as the court scientist and artist of Lodovico Sforza. In 1499, he was forced to leave the city in the wake of the French occupation. In 1506, it was the French who invited him back. Ironically, when his French patrons relinquished Milan to the Sforzas who reclaimed power, Leonardo was forced to flee from his former employers.

  • Issue Year: V/2014
  • Issue No: 03
  • Page Range: 96-107
  • Page Count: 12
  • Language: English