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left, one of whom, with his bald head, his long beard, and the protuberant belly under his crossed arms, seems to have been inspired by the Silenus of the ancients. This strange personage re-appears (but in reverse) in a drawing formerly in the Armand collection, now in that of M. Valton. The drawing in the Bonnat collection also contains the figure of a young man, shading his eyes with his left hand. This motive recurs in a drawing in the Louvre, and in one in the Galichon collection, to which I shall return presently. In the latter, however, it is an old man, and not a youth, who thus concentrates his gaze on the Divine Child. A third spectator, the young man standing with one foot on the bench on which the oldest of the shepherds is seated, was transferred bodily from M. Bonnat's drawing to that of the Armand and Valton collections, save that in the latter he turns his back to the spectator, while in the former he is in profile.
Appropriate as all these attitudes are to the shepherds, they are entirely at variance with those traditionally given to the three kings; we have none of those signs of profound veneration, the genuflections, the kissing of the feet, etc., which serve to characterise the monarchs from the far East.
Yet another figure in M. Bonnat's drawing, sketched on the same sheet, but apart from the main group, gives a final indication that we are studying a sketch for an Adoration of the Shepherds. It is a young man with clasped hands, naked but for a strip of drapery passing from his left shoulder to his right hip; this is a shepherd, not an Eastern king, nor an Oriental attendant. The touching gesture of the clasped hands disappears in the sequel, and I cannot but regret it ; yet only strong and exuberant spirits, like Leonardo, can thus sacrifice their finest details, confident that they will be able to replace them by others no less perfect.
In the drawing which passed from M. Alfred Armand's collection to that of M. P. Valton, the composition has hardly as yet taken definite form in the master's mind. He still seeks and hesitates. Leonardo, indeed, had none of that precision of conception proper to the literary temperament. Not only did he give himself up to the most arduous toil in pursuit of his ideal, demolishing and reconstructing again and again, but he loved to hover tentatively round a subject, instead of attacking it boldly. The drawing of the Valton collection betrays these fluctuations ; it contains only isolated figures, some of them so vaguely indicated that it is impossible to divine the master's intention through the maze of interwoven lines and corrections.
Among the recognisable figures I may mention the youth with his foot on a step, and the bearded old man, both borrowed from the drawing in the Bonnat collection. The old man's attitude is slightly modified; his right hand supports his chin. The figure is repeated further off, leaning on a long staff. Then we have young men, their hands on their hips, a usual gesture among the actors or spectators in pictures of the adoration of the Magi; it occurs, for instance, in Raphael's version of the theme in the Vatican. Other figures are remarkable for the striking originality of their attitudes; they stand with arms crossed on their breasts, or hands on their hips, like the Hermes of Praxiteles, or the Narcissus in the Naples Museum. We know from the figure of Silenus mentioned above, that Leonardo now began to draw inspiration from classic models.
A drawing in the Louvre (in the revolving case at the entrance of the Salles Thiers), consists, like that of the Valton collection, of single figures only. But the composition has advanced a stage. Here, all the attitudes express the deepest reverence. First, we have a prostrate figure; then two others bowing; then a person advancing, his body slightly inclined, his hands uplifted as if to express astonishment. Finally, a spectator who shades his eyes with his hands to get a better view, and another, who stretches out his arm as if exclaiming: "Behold this miracle!"
A drawing in the Cologne Museum, to which Messrs. de Geymiiller and Richter drew my attention, and for a photograph of which I am indebted to Herr Aldenhoven, is certainly contemporary with the Louvre drawing; for both contain combinations of the same figures, with certain differences of attitude. In the Louvre drawing, the figures are partially draped; whereas in the Cologne sketches, only three of the persons have indications of garments behind them.
But let us take the actors one by one. Beginning on the left, in the upper part, we have a charming figure of a young lad, his arms stretched out before him, his head turned over his shoulder. Buskins are slightly indicated on his feet. In the Louvre drawing, this figure has undergone a complete transformation: instead of nearly facing us, as before, it is now seen almost from behind, clothed in a tunic fastened round the waist by a girdle.
The second and central figure is even more thoroughly metamorphosed. In the Cologne drawing, he faces us, one hand on his hip, the other over his forehead, shading his eyes. Both gestures are preserved in the Louvre drawing, but the figure is in profile; and Leonardo has
utilised another motive of the Cologne drawing for this last figure—that of the person in the middle distance, in profile, his hand above his eyes.
Another figure, a youth standing, towards the right, his shoulders drawn back, his fore-arms extended in an attitude expressive of surprise and veneration, has disappeared in the Louvre drawing, as has also one of his companions, standing, to the left, his arm resting on his hip. On the other hand, the bent figure advancing with arms extended, reappears in the Louvre drawing, draped, and with his arms drawn rather closer to his body. His neighbour, who bends forward with clasped hands, also figures in the Louvre drawing, where, however, he raises his head, instead of inclining it, and advances his right, instead of his left leg. He re-appears in the important drawing of the Galichon collection (seeL'Art, 1887, vol. ii, p. 71), which represents the last stage of the composition. Another, who kneels on one knee, prostrates himself on the ground in the Louvre drawing; but he has risen to his feet in that of the Galichon collection.
The group of five persons who press eagerly round the Divine Child is strikingly beautiful. But Leonardo suppressed it, as may be seen by a comparison of the Cologne and Galichon drawings. This group is marked by a fervour and enthusiasm, a passion and emotion, too rare in Leonardo's works. The master seems to have made it a rule to
repress his feelings, and to present a spectacle of perfect serenity to the world.
If the drawing in the Cologne Museum contained but this single revelation, if it had nothing of interest beyond this outburst of generous feeling, it would still be of the greatest interest to point it out to Leonardo's admirers, and I should feel myself sufficiently rewarded for my efforts by the pleasure of bringing it to light.
A fifth drawing, taking them in chronological order, is to be found in the Uffizi; it is a study for a background, which seems to have greatly interested the master. To the left are two parallel flights of steps; at the foot of one of these a camel is lying. There is nothing strange in this motive; the Adoration of the Magi was a theme which always gave the painter a certain licence in the multiplication of picturesque details, rare animals, exotic plants, etc. Take, for instance, Luini's fresco at Saronno, with the giraffe in the procession of the Magi. With what delight does the painter overstep the narrow boundary of sacred art, and emerge for a moment into the open air! But to return to the Uffizi drawing: on the steps of one of the staircases a man is seated; further on, a man ascends it, running. It struck me at first that Leonardo had thought of placing the Virgin at the head of this double staircase, and of showing the kings and their followers in the act of climbing the steps,—an arrangement which would have added wonderfully to the dramatic interest, and have given occasion for a grandiose mise-en-scene. But I will not venture to insist on this hypothesis. In the background of the sketch is a group of horses, kicking and rearing.
A drawing (p. 65), which passed into the Louvre from the Galichon collection, shows us the last stage upon which this laborious composition entered before it was committed to the cartoon. It has been wrongly described as Leonardo's first idea for the Adoration of the Magi; it would have been more correct to call it his last thought, seeing by how many others it was preceded. The beauty of the drawing, the eloquence and animation of the lightly sketched figures, many of them as yet undraped, the rhythm of the lines, which produces the effect of a musical vibration—Raphael was very evidently inspired by this method of drawing at the close of his Florentine and the beginning of his Roman period—and many other characteristic traits defy analysis. All is life, afflatus, love and light!
It is easier to define the analogies and the material differences between this drawing and its predecessors. Several of the figures of the earlier Louvre drawing have been retained, with modifications. The bowed naked figure with clasped hands is reversed, and has become the king who advances, bending forward, his hands outstretched.