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Leonardo and art

Leonardo's artistic works are not particularly numerous: about thirty paintings and some drawings.  However, certain works by Leonardo are so popular that they became icons of figurative art
We selected eleven works (plus one) not to be missed in Italy.

The works of Leonardo in Florence


1. Annunciation

Annunciation - Uffizi gallery, Florence - Tuscany

Annunciation - Uffizi gallery, Florence - Tuscany

It was likely painted between 1472 and 1475, when Leonardo was still an apprentice at Verrocchio's workshop. Annunciation is the most famous work of a young Leonardo. This painting, housed in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, represents a small revolution in the history of art. While maintaining the classic position of the Angel and Mary, instead of representing the scene in the usual loggia, he placed the two figures in a garden.

2. Landscape with river

Landscape with river - Department of Prints and Drawings - Uffizi Gallery - Florence - Tuscany

Landscape with river - Department of Prints and Drawings - Uffizi Gallery - Florence - Tuscany

The Department of Prints and Drawings of the Uffizi gallery also houses the Landscape with River, one of Leonardo's first drawings, made during his training at the workshop. The landscape depicted is probably that of the Lower Valdarno.

3. The Baptism of Christ

The Baptism of Christ - Uffizi gallery, Florence - Tuscany

The painting displayed at the Uffizi gallery was painted by Andrea del Verrocchio together with some of his pupils, including Leonardo. Giorgio Vasari, a historian of the sixteenth century, wrote that Leonardo painted the angel on the left with such skill as to arouse the envy of his master. Modern scholars affirm that the genius from Vinci also contributed to the creation of the river landscape and the figure of Christ.

4. Adoration of the Magi

Adoration of the Magi - Uffizi gallery, Florence - Tuscany

Adoration of the Magi - Uffizi gallery, Florence - Tuscany

The work, which was not completed due to Leonardo leaving for Milan, shows the Madonna with Baby Jesus in her arms, surrounded by the Magi and a crowd in adoration. The background shows the ruins of a temple (perhaps the Temple of Jerusalem) and a battle among knights. Also this painting is displayed at the Uffizi Gallery.

5. The Battle of Anghiari

Salone dei Cinquecento - Palazzo Vecchio, Florence - Tuscany

In 1503 Leonardo was commissioned to create a fresco on one of the large walls of the Sala dei Cinquecento of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence with a scene depicting the Battle of Anghiari. However, the master from Vinci did not like the fresco technique, which required a fast performance of the work. He tried to apply the encaustic technique, but the experiment turned out to be a failure: the colors began to drip along the wall as soon as they were fixed. The Battle of Anghiari was displayed for about 50 years before being covered by Vasari's frescoes when Vasari was in charge of restructuring and decorating the hall.

Tavola Doria (copy of a detail from the Battle of Anghiari) - Uffizi Gallery, Florence - Tuscany

Tavola Doria (copy of a detail from the Battle of Anghiari) - Uffizi Gallery, Florence - Tuscany

In Anghiari, a visit to the Museum of the Battle of Anghiari, the only center that documents the work, allows visitors to discover the history of the territory of the famous battle and the history of Leonardo's fresco.

Leonardo's works in Milan


6. Portrait of a Musician

Portrait of a Musician - Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan - Lombardy

Portrait of a Musician - Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan - Lombardy

The painting is the only painting on wood by Leonardo still in Milan. In the past it was thought to portray Ludovico il Moro, until the restoration of 1905 brought out the hand holding the partition sheet. The man depicted is probably Atalante Migliorotti, a Tuscan musician and friend of Leonardo. The depth of the character's gaze recalls the portraits of Antonello da Messina.

7. The Last Supper

The Last Supper - Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan - Lombardy

The Last Supper - Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan - Lombardy

“Truly, truly, I say to you, one of you will betray me”. With the Last Supper Leonardo materializes before our eyes the reactions of the Apostles (the "motions of the soul") in hearing these terrible words said by Jesus during his last supper. The Last Supper was included in the list of UNESCO sites  in 1980 together with the Church and the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.

8. Portraits of the Dukes of Milan with their children

Crucifixion, Donato Montorfano - Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan - Lombardy

Crucifixion, Donato Montorfano - Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan - Lombardy

Inside the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie there is another work by Leonardo, the Portraits of the Dukes of Milan with their children, painted "beautifully" according to Vasari at the corners of the Crucifixion by Donato Montorfano. Unfortunately, the figures of Ludovico il Moro, his wife and two children appear today considerably damaged and are not easily recognizable.

9. Vegetation intertwining with fruits and monochromes of roots and rocks  (Sala delle Asse, Castello Sforzesco)

Sala delle Asse - Castello Sforzesco, Milan - Lombardy

Sala delle Asse - Castello Sforzesco, Milan - Lombardy

The skill of the painter and the wisdom of the attentive observer of nature are evident in the decorations made by Leonardo in the Sala delle Asse located in the north-east tower of the Castello Sforzesco in Milan. The intertwining of branches, ribbons, fruits and roots creates, thanks to the trompe-l'oeil effect, the illusion of a real pergola.

Leonardo's works in the rest of Italy


10. La Scapigliata - Parma

a Scapigliata - National Gallery of Parma - Emilia Romagna

La Scapigliata - National Gallery of Parma - Emilia Romagna

"La Scapigliata" - also known as the "Testa di fanciulla (Head of a Young Woman)" - is a small (24x21 cm) elegant and delicate masterpiece that shows all of Leonardo's skill in depicting, with a few strokes, the moods of a young woman with an introspective appearance, with her eyes downwards and a barely hinted smile. Her slightly ruffled hair contrasts with this shy and modest image. The painting is housed in the National Gallery of Parma since 1839.

11. Vitruvian Man - Venice

Study of body proportions known as Vitruvian Man, Gallerie dell'Accademia Academia art Galleries - Venice - Veneto

Study of body proportions known as Vitruvian Man, Gallerie dell'Accademia Academia art Galleries - Venice - Veneto

This extraordinary drawing, housed in the Gallerie dell'Accademia in Venice, is a study of the proportions of the human body, represented by an ideal figure inscribed in two positions within a circle and a square. There are many symbolic meanings attributed to the work, so well known that it became a true pop icon, imitated and reproduced in countless ways.

* Lucan portrait of Leonardo da Vinci - Vaglio di Basilicata

Lucan portrait of Leonardo da Vinci - Museum of the Ancient People of Lucania, Vaglio di Basilicata - Basilicata

Lucan portrait of Leonardo da Vinci - Museum of the Ancient People of Lucania, Vaglio di Basilicata - Basilicata

The Lucan portrait of Leonardo da Vinci is housed in the Museum of the Ancient People of Lucania in Vaglio di Basilicata, but the attribution to Leonardo is disputed, despite the scientific research conducted through carbon 14 dating, the graphological analysis of the inscription "PINXIT MEA" (I painted it) on the back and a research conducted on a fingerprint imprinted on the drawing board.