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Human movement and turning

Human movement and turning of limbs and bodies
in paintings made by Lionardo da Vinci 

Dear Art-lovers. 

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 dream.


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 different directions. 

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.

This 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. 

There 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 Madonnas. 

The Nativity




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
Rizah Kulenovic

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