One of the incomparable Renaissance painters, Leonardo da Vinci consistently tested artistic traditions and techniques. He made imaginative arrangements, investigated anatomy to precisely represent the human body, thought about the human mind to illustrate character, and tried different things with strategies of representing space and three-dimensional objects on a two-dimensional surface. The consequence of his inexhaustible curiosity is numerous incomplete projects yet additionally probably the most similar, complex, tender representations of human nature. His trials affected the art of his successors and regularly turned into the standard of representation in resulting hundreds of years. At his demise in 1519, Leonardo left numerous notebooks filled up with jottings and sketches yet not very many completed works. A portion of his pieces were finished by assistance, however others were lost, wrecked, or overpainted. The following are 10 examples of some of his most well-known surviving works.
Last Supper (c. 1495–98)
A standout amongst the most renowned paintings in the world, the Last Supper was commissioned by Ludovico Sforza, duke of Milan and Leonardo’s patron during his first stay in that city, for the Dominican religious community of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Depicting a sequential narrative, Leonardo shows a few firmly associated minutes in the Gospels, including Matthew 26:21– 28, in which Jesus announces that one of the Apostles will betray him and afterward institutes the Eucharist. Leonardo, who was interested by the way in which a man’s character can uncover itself in posture, expression, and gesture, depicted each disciple’s unique reaction to the declaration. The Apostles’ postures rise, fall, expand, and interwine as they seem to whisper, yell, grieve, and debate around Jesus, who sits serenely in the center. On account of Leonardo’s trial painting technique, in which he used tempera or oil paint on two layers of preparatory ground, the work began to disintegrate soon after he finished it. viewers, be that as it may, can still remember it as a complex study of varied human emotion, revealed in a deceptively simple composition.
Mona Lisa (c. 1503–19)
The world’s most well-known artwork, the Mona Lisa attracts a huge number of guests to the Louver Museum every day, many of whom are compelled by the sitter’s mysterious gaze and enigmatic smile. The apparently ordinary portrait of a young lady dressed humbly in a thin veil, somber colors, and no jewelry may likewise confound its viewers, who may ponder what all the object is about. The painting’s simplicity gives a false representation of Leonardo’s ability for realism. The subject’s delicately displayed face demonstrates his skillful handling of sfumato, an artistic method that uses subtle gradations of light and shadow, instead of line, to show model form. The delicately painted veil, the finely wrought tresses, and the careful rendering of folded fabric uncover Leonardo’s tireless tolerance in reproducing his studied observations. Besides, the sitter’s perplexing expression only adds to her realism. Her smile may connect with or it may ridicule—viewers can’t quite figure it out because, similar to a human, she is a complex figure, embodying opposite attributes at the same time.
Vitruvian Man (c. 1490)
Leonardo’s pen-and-ink drawing Vitruvian Man originates from one of the numerous notebooks that he kept close by during his mature years. It is joined by notes, written in mirror script, on the ideal human proportions that the Roman architect Vitruvius spread out in a book on architecture from the 1st century BCE. The drawing represents Vitruvius’ theories that the perfect human could fit inside a circle and a square, two irreconcilable shapes. Leonardo settled the idea by drawing a male figure in two superimposed positions—one with his arms outstretched to fit in a square and another with his legs and arms spread in a circle. The work show not only Leonardo’s effort to comprehend significant texts yet additionally his desire to develop them. He was not the first to show Vitruvius’ concepts, but rather his drawing later turned into the most notorious, halfway in light of the fact that its mix of mathematics, philosophy, and art seemed a fitting symbol of the Renaissance. The drawing is currently housed in the Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice, where it isn’t typically on display yet kept in an atmosphere controlled archive.
Head of a Woman (1500–10)
Head of a Woman, a little brush drawing with shade, depicts a young lady with her head tilted and her eyes depressed. Her posture reviews the Virgin Mary in Leonardo’s The Virgin of the Rocks, recommending that the drawing may have filled in as a model. The drawing’s nickname, La scapigliata, means “disheveled” and refers to the young lady’s wayward strands of hair. The loosely sketched tendrils and shoulders stand out from the exceptionally completed face, where Leonardo gently modeled the lady’s fragile highlights, from her tired eyes to her delicate lips. It uncovers Leonardo’s liquid methods for working, using both expressive drawing to make form and controlled layering to give detail.
The Virgin of the Rocks (c. 1483–86)
Based on stylistic evidence, many scholars consider the painting The Virgin of the Rocks in the Louvre the first of two paintings that Leonardo made of an apocryphal legend in which the Holy Family meets Saint John the Baptist as they flee to Egypt from Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents. Leonardo was involved in years of litigation with the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, which commissioned the work, and the dispute eventually led Leonardo to paint another version of the subject about 1508, which is now housed in the National Gallery of London.
The first painting shows the ways in which Leonardo ushered in the High Renaissance. Early paintings from this period often depicted figures in linear arrangements, separate from one another, and stiff in form. In The Virgin of the Rocks, however, the figures of the Virgin Mary, the Christ Child, the infant John, and an archangel are arranged in a pyramidal composition, and they not only convincingly occupy a space but interact with one another through gestures and glances. A youthful Mary sits on the ground in a mysterious rocky landscape, not on a throne as so many early Renaissance paintings depicted her. Her body has movement—it seems to sway as she tilts her head protectively toward the infant John, who kneels in prayer at the left, and she looks as if she nudges him over to the Christ Child at the right. Jesus, in turn, blesses John as an archangel, seen in a complex pose from the back, points toward John and glances inscrutably outward at the viewer. Leonardo also notably excluded traditional holy signifiers—halos for Mary and Christ and a staff for John—so that the Holy Family appears less divine and more human.
Self Portrait (c. 1490/1515–16)
Since quite a while ago viewed as a self-portrait, the red chalk drawing of an elderly man with long wavy hair and a beard has been produced to such a degree, to the point that it characterizes how a great many people think about Leonardo’s appearance. However a few scholars argue that the figure, with its craggy features, furrowed brow, and depressed eyes, seems a lot more older than the age Leonardo ever reached; Leonardo passed on at age 67. They suggest that the drawing might be one of his odd drawings, portrays he routinely made in his notebooks of individuals with eccentric features. It could likewise be a portrait of his dad or uncle, who both lived to be around 80 years of age, or it could be a depiction of how Leonardo thought he would look at a later age. Whomever the portrait represents, it embody nobility and wisdom, attributes for which Leonardo keeps on being commended.
The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne (c. 1503–19)
Some scholars believe that The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne was Leonardo’s last painting, and in this work he used many of the conventions that he had established throughout his career to depict three generations of the Holy Family—Saint Anne, her daughter, the Virgin Mary, and the Christ Child. Anne, at the apex of the pyramidal composition, watches Mary, who sits on her lap, as the Virgin tenderly restrains the Christ Child from mounting a lamb. Contrasting with the knowing infant Leonardo depicted in The Virgin of the Rocks, the Christ figure in the The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne appears innocent, demonstrating playful juvenile behavior and showing a trusting expression as he returns his mother’s gaze. The interactions between the figures feels intimate and reveals Leonardo’s ability to represent convincing human relationships.
The painting also shows Leonardo’s lifelong interest in believably representing three-dimensional space on a two-dimensional surface. As in many of Leonardo’s paintings, the figures sit amid a fantastical landscape. Using aerial perspective, a technique that he wrote about in his Treatise on Painting, Leonardo created the illusion of distance by painting the rocky formations in the background so that they appear blue-gray and less detailed than the landscape of the foreground. He used this technique in many of the landscapes of his earlier works, including the Mona Lisa and The Virgin of the Rocks.
Salvator Mundi (c. 1500)
The secretive head-on portrait of Christ as Savior of the World stood out as truly newsworthy in 2017 when it sold for a record-breaking $450.3 million at closeout. Although some experts question that the Renaissance master made the work, references to a painting by Leonardo that portrays Christ holding a globe show up in royal collections in the 17th century. The whereabouts of such a portrait were to a great extent obscure in consequent hundreds of years, however in the mid-21st century a work coordinating the descriptions returned. Obtained by private authorities at a regional auction in the United States, the painting was thought to be a copy and was in poor shape with heavy overpainting. After the work was professionally conserved, several leading experts recognized the work not as a copy but as an authentic painting by Leonardo. Controversial and peculiar though the painting may be, the large sum paid at auction attests to Leonardo’s enduring celebrity and to his powerful position in the art history canon nearly five centuries after his death.
Ginevra de’ Benci (c. 1474/78)
Housed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., the portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci is the only painting by Leonardo publicly displayed in the Western Hemisphere. It is one of Leonardo’s earliest works, finished when he was in his early 20s, and shows some of the unconventional methods he would use throughout his career. Inspired by his Northern contemporaries, Leonardo broke with tradition by depicting the solemn young woman in a three-quarter pose rather than the customary profile, and thus he may have been the first Italian artist to paint such a composition. He continued to use the three-quarter view in all of his portraits, including the Mona Lisa, and it quickly became the standard for portraiture, so ubiquitous that viewers take it for granted today. Leonardo may also have used his fingers when the paint was still tacky to model Ginevra’s face, as suggested by the fingerprints found in the paint surface.
On the reverse side of the painting, a wreath of laurel and palm encircles a sprig of juniper (ginepro in Italian—a pun on the sitter’s name), and a scroll bearing the Latin phrase “beauty adorns virtue” entwines each of the flora. The truncated appearance of the reverse side suggests that the painting may have been cut at the bottom, possibly because of damage from water or fire. Some scholars speculate that the portrait on the obverse would have included Ginevra’s hands and propose that a silverpoint study of arms and hands housed at Windsor Castle may have served as a preliminary drawing.
Lady with an Ermine (c. 1489–91)
Numerous art historians recognize the young woman in woman with an Ermine as Cecilia Gallerani, the fancy woman of Leonardo’s patron, Ludovico Sforza, duke of Milan. The ermine was regularly use as a seal for the duke. The woman turns her head to the right, her bright eyes seemingly directed toward something outside the frame. In spite of the fact that the painting has been vigorously overpainted, remarkably the dark foundation, it in any case uncovers Leonardo’s learning of anatomy and his capacity to represent character in posture and expression. He catches the young lady’s childhood and genial nature in her honest features, attentive gaze, and tender embrace of the ermine, which sits with its head cocked regally and alert. Her slim hand uncovers the complicated bone structure underneath the skin, similarly as the leader of the ermine proposes the skull underneath the finely rendered fur.