Human movement and turning
Human movement and turning of limbs and bodies
in paintings made by Lionardo da Vinci
This treatise is written to all of You who love Lionardo da Vinci
and his works, apart from which branches of his science they border on.
In 1997a Museum Lionardo da Vinci Ideale was opened in Karlskrona
Sweden with aim and direction to give possibility to university graduates as well as
ordinary people to make a study of the works and arts made by Lionardo da Vinci. We give
lectures about Lionardoīs paintings and there is a comprehensive library where You can
find books about his different sciences and about his great interests in painting.
Lionardo had a dream. He wished that his knowledge would be accessible and able to be
shared by common people in common language, so he proposed to found the
"Academia Lionardi" where common people would be able to get education in the
different branches of science which he was so interested in. Unfortunately "Academia
Lionardi" was never constructed and the idea about adult education was never
performed. Therefore the ambition with this museum is to try to realize some part of his
Until today there are thousands of books and treatises written about Lionardo da Vinci and
there are some authors who want to monopolize their knowledge of Lionardo, for instance
about his way of painting. I find it most astonishing that some research-workers are
missing the most important about his painting and because of that analyses his works total
wrong and in opposite direction of Lionardos ideas. I will invite all research-workers on
Lionardo to closely study this treatise since some of You are mostly interested in
analysing various sides of his painting, for instance left and right or how "
Lionardo comes out of the mirror". It goes to show that You in the reality are far
away from what Lionardo ment with left, frontal and from the right, that is to say from
Lionardo used to say: "The experiments never lie to You", so we will here do an
experiment which You can scrutinize and analyse. I will refer to Lionardo and his way of
working and thinking together with the technique and the sciences he was using in his
painting. On the left and on the right side of the canvas Lionardo set out two mirrors so
he could observe the painting and adjust it in order to get the turnings of the figures.
That is to say; the spectator experiences the painted objects as they are following him
with bodies and limbs and are fronting him no matter from which side he is viewing the
painting. To reach this outcome he was using several of his scientific experiences which
he was developing with devotion in his few unique paintings. The experiment with mirrors
is performed here i Karlskrona with pictures of Lionardos paintings and the experiments
ratifies his idea about "turning of the limbs" or "human movement"
which he speaks about in his theses concerning painting in "Codex Madrid":
In these theses Lionardo shows the adjoining diagram and he explains how
we have to go from one side to the other of his paintings and how we then can experienc
how the figures are following us and are fronted directly to us from which side we look at
the painting.We have also made a test with a living person between the mirrors in correct
distance and angle to the object , it has to be the right distance and angle to get the
left and the right picture corresponding to the paingting You are working at. But to study
left and right with a living person between the mirrors did not work, the turnings did not
show and they failed to come up, this is a mystery.
When You observe a
painting by Lionardo from the front and from the sides You soon will discover how his
paintings have somthing particularly, for example an illusion of three dimensions and
space and You can manifest the movement which he was so obsessed by. We all know that
Lionardo was recognized as a great expert of the human body and its anatomy, but he was so
interested of movements and turnings in his paitings so the natural anatomical depiction
must get neglected. Lionardo was all sensible of this and maybe it is because of this his
paintings got the mysteriousness and power of attraction. When You compare him to other
contemporary great masters as Rafael, Botticelli and others You can understand their
enviousness of their inability to produce anything similar.
Now we are going to analyse "The Madonna at the rocks" that
painting in the Louvre, Paris. When we look at the painting from the left side and observe
the right hand and arm of the Madonna, which is embracing the Child, we will find out that
this arm is unnaturally long but fronted to the spectator and her left hand is turned to
the spectator too. That is to say, both her two arms and hands and her entire body are
fronting the spectator. We will now take a few steps so we are standing in the front of
the painting. Then we can see that the figure is still fronting us with her body, arms and
hands and her right arm is clearly shorter. When we go further to the right side of the
painting the figure is following us and turns her body, arms and hands towards us. But
here somthing new happens because her right arm is now symmetrical to the entire body. The
experience that some parts of the whole picture will be shorter, larger or longer alter to
the spectator and it depend on which side of the painting he is standing. This is a visual
observation we always do in a true Lionardo-painting. Lionardos intention was that we
shall whach his paintings from side to side in 180 degrees.
In "Optical illusions, written by Bruno Ernst, You can see optical phenomena and
illusions but they are not to compare with what Lionardo achieved or similar to his works.
In this book we can study pictures from the Middle Ages and forward. Already in Roman
frescoes or even in a painting by Bruegle Sr You can observe optical illusions, but
nothing of this is comparable to a work by Lionardo and the turnings of bodies and limbs
they shows. I have here spoken about some details in "The Madonna at the rocks"
and there are some parts which are hardly possible to express in words. But it is possible
to study such a painting Yourself from different sides and get a brand new dimension at
Lionardo da Vinci and his painting.
The fact that Lionardo was only interested in
"turnings" and "Human movement" in his paintings You can see already
in the sketches and drawings which is made for his paintings. One of the drawins is made
for his latest painting "The Nativity" in Karlskrona.
drawing we will find in the Louvre and we can clearly see how head and body is turning
from the left to the right thanks to assistance of his pen.
are sketches in Florence and other parts of the world which also show up turnings of head,
limbs and bodies.
What he achieved with the turnings in his pictures suggestive of an animated cartoon so we
can almost call him a forerunner of animated cartoons.
In his young days he begun to give final shape to
"Sfumato" the particular technique he was using in all his paintings, from the
first to his latest work. Shumato was necessary to create the movement in the figures,
this what he call the turning of the limbs. Many translaters of Lionardo- scripts become
confused and bewildered when Lionardo talks about turning because they dont understand the
meaning. We can understand this from a great number of books and treatises about Lionardo.
The author / translator is mostly using wrong pictures to illustrate the text and a
trained observer can clearly decide whether the picture is turning or not.
To create the turnings of the figures is a very diffcult case. An example of the
difficulty we can see at the drawing on carton, "Anna self third", in the
National Gallery in London. When we study this drawing of two women sitting in their knees
we soon will find out that only their legs are fronting the viewer when he looks at the
picture from side to side, nothing else is following. Already in his large drawings on
carton he shows where it is possible to create turnings and where it canīt be done.
Because of this it number of sketches isn't strange Lionardo made a great for his people
called Lionardo the painter that seldom finished his painting. Because of the possession
paintings. Many of give it up and couldn't complite his work. We know that he during his
getting everything turning he often had to second was very interested of publishing a
thesis of "Human Movement" but this part of his book was half of his life never
of his life was perceiving this, he got very disappointed and accused himself finished.
When he towards the end of this. After the death of Lionardo his sketches and notes
changed hands for several times and because of that many of them are today missing, they
have got lost for ever. But in 1965 some forgotten notes were rediscovered and are now to
be seen at the Prado-museum in Madrid. These sketches and notes made a great commotion in
the whole Art-world and were named "Codex Madrid 1 and 2" and they deal with
Painting and "Human Movement", it is Lionardo himself who denominates it so. He
said: " I wish that spectators will study and look at my paintings in an entirely new
and different way as they are used to ".
Some persons call " turning of the limbs " an optical phenomenon when they see
it in a painting by Lionardo byt Lionardo calls it science of supreme importance. All
works of art which are ascribeded to Lionardo but donīt show turning of the limbs You can
remove from the list as a work by him. These paintings have nothing to do with Lionardo
and his painting. Characteristic to a work by Lionardo is ; Turning of the limbs, Sfumato
and the interior light which gives an especial space and makes the figures alive. When we
observe a figure by Lionardo which is in the middel of the painting, for instance
"The Madonna at the rocks", we can perceive the space and a visual sense of a
largely room of a floating atmosphere around her and a spiritual, religious
mysteriousness. Here I want to call attention to some important points which Lionardo made
a note of himself : " Always imagine the conclusion of the work. Before You have
begun You have to think about the finishing of Your work ". Even in this he was
misunderstood. The purpose was to bring movement in his works. He was one of the most
well-known Artists of the Renascence and made lots of drawings and sketches for his
paintings. Already at the sketch-phase, the preparation for the painting, he indicate his
large interest about the turnings. The movement in the figures is very clear in all his
To the Madonna
in Karlskrona there are sketches in the Louvre, Florence, USA and other parts of the world
and in all these drawings were he presents turnings his purpose is to get Hunan Movement
in his Painting.Many people call his drawings ū profile because of an experiment he made
with eight mirrors. These mirrors are placed in a circle around a person and then he can
sees himself in ū profile without meeting his own eyes. We made this expetiment and found
out that Lionardo made it to investigate how the wirrors works and to develope the
technique to get "Human Movement". Gradually he developed this technique and You
can have this experience most clearly in his latest work in Karlskrona. The experiment
with 8 mirrirs was done in a period in Lionardos life when he had 29 years more to live.
And Lionardo wrote himself : "(NEL) LīOPERE TUA (...) VEDUTA PER LO CONTRARIO
GIVIOCHERAI MEGLIO L' ERRORI" . (To see Your work reversed make You more able to
adjust the faults). This is also misinterpreted by many people. They expained it as
Lionardowas was reflecting his works but they donīt tell us in what purpose he did it.
The truth is however that he was using two mirrors, one mirror on each side of the
painting, in order to correct the picture and to get the result he was aiming at. You can
see this more or less clear in all his paintings, but You can see it very clear in "
The Nativity" in Karlskrona, Sweden. Only 7 paintings in the world show up
"turnings" and they must be genuine works by Lionardo. For the first time in
historyYou have got an esay way to recognize a Lionardo-work and You are all welcome to
study his technique and way of painting in this Museum. A great number of visitors have
until now been stydieing the phenomenon "Turning of the Limbs" at Museum
Lionardo da Vinci Ideale in Karlskrona, and they have passed on this knowledge about
Lionardo to cultured circles all over the world.
As I earlier mentioned, he did his drawings to prepare the
Movement in his paintings and I will now talk about a drawing whose very thin paper has
two sides; A and B. Here Lionardo is using touche, tinted drawing and metal-lead to draw
the picture on side A, whose reversed figure can be seen through the paper in side B which
he fills in with several heads and in different positions. Already when the painting was
in the steady of a drawing he decided the turnings. There are many drawings like this made
particularly for the Madonna with the Child and Little John. Mostly these pictures are
supposed to have been drawn for other paintings which they think is made by Lionardo, for
instance Madonna Benois and Litta Madonna both hanging in the Eremitage, St. Petersburg.
None of them have any turnings. And there are more ; Ginevra Benci in Washington, The Lady
with the Ermine in Krakow Museum Poland and Madonna with carnation in alte Pinakothek in
Munich, Germany. These works of art does not show up any turnings and besides, there are
no drawings for them. Even a work by Lionardo which is very damaged and badly restored use
to show some turnings. Finaly for this time I will mention about the "Communion"
has because of damages and restoring lost most of its turnings, but it is of course
necessary to restore some Lionardo-paintings. Remember however that a painting by Lionardo
that has been restored still shows some turnings
To You all hwo are reading this treatise, I wish this theories
will give You pleasure and make You able to look at Lionardo and his painting in a brand
new way, because it raise him over all masters ever. And You will better understand why
Lionardo named his painting "a science on highest level.
With my Kindest Regards