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a painter knows how another man is shaped, and can see whether the latter has a humped back, or one shoulder higher than the other, or a nose and mouth too large, or any other natural defect. If we admit that men are able to discern the mistakes of nature, still more must we allow that they can see our faults. We know how a man may deceive himself about his own works. If you cannot convince yourself of this by examining your own productions, look at those of your neighbours, and you will be convinced and profit by their mistakes" (cap. 75). "If you wish to escape the fault-finding with which painters visit any one who, in this or that branch of art, does not agree with their own way ot seeing things, you must familiarise yourself with the different parts of art, so as to conform in each to the judgments provoked by works of painting. These different parts will be treated of below" (cap. 114).
Farther on Leonardo points out, apparently with regret, the essentially subjective nature of the painter's "role." Two centuries and a half before Buffon, he shows the close relation between a man's character and his artistic style. "On the great defect of painters.— It is a great defect with artists to repeat the same movements, faces, and draperies in one and the same composition, and to give to most countenances the features of the author himself. I have often felt surprise at this, for I have known many artists who, in their figures, seem to have portrayed themselves, so that their own attitudes and gestures have been reproduced in the population of their pictures. If a painter is quick and vivacious in gesture and language, his figures have an equal vivacity. If he is pious, his figures, with their drooped heads, seem pious too. If he is indolent, his figures are laziness personified. If he lacks proportion, his figures are also badly built. Finally, if he is mad, the state of his mind is reflected in his work, which lacks cohesion and reality; his personages look about, like people in a dream. And so all the distinctive features of the pictures are regulated by its author's character. . . .' (cap. 108; cf. cap. 186).
Elsewhere again he denies and condemns realism: "Among those whose profession it is to paint portraits, the men who make the best likenesses are the least effectual when the composition of a historical picture is in question" (cap. 58). The painter of the Last Supper allows his spiritual tendencies to break but in the following paragraph, with its original conclusion: "A good painter should paint two things, man and the thoughts of man's soul. The first is an easy, the second a difficult, task, because the movements of the soul have to be expressed through movements and gestures of the limbs. To this end one should study deaf mutes, for their gestures are more expressive and important than those of other men" (cap. 180).
Eclectic principles are clearly formulated in the following precepts: "On the choice of beautiful faces.—The painter who gives beauty to his countenances seems to me to betray the possession of an uncommon gift of grace. He who does not possess it naturally may acquire it by a series of accidental observations, thus: watch carefully and choose what is good from a crowd of handsome faces, of faces, I mean, which seem handsome to the generality of men rather than those which please yourself, for you might in the latter case deceive yourself by selecting faces which offered analogies with your own. We are, as a fact, often seduced into error by these analogies, and, being ugly ourselves, choose faces which are not handsome, and so reproduce ugliness instead of beauty. Many painters do this. Faces, in fact, are apt to resemble those who make them. Select beauties, then, as I tell you, and engrave them on your minds" (cap. 137).
An echo from the teachings of the old Florentine school—I had nearly said the School of Salerno—and among other things of the Treatise on Painting of Cennino Cennini, may be perceived in the advice given by Leonardo to his pupils on matters of morality and hygiene—just as strongly as he recommends a gregarious study of drawing (cap. 71), so does he preach solitude when it is a question of thinking out and composing a work of art (cap. 50, 58). Contempt of money is another of his principles (cap. 64). In short, no artist has ever conceived a higher idea of the dignity of art than he.
He is often preoccupied with laws of contrast. He shows that the juxtaposition of beauty and ugliness heightens the effect of each (cap. 130, 187). He discourages, nevertheless, the mingling of melancholy people with cheerful ones; for, he adds, the law of nature is that we shall weep with those who weep and laugh with those who laugh, so laughter must be separated from tears (cap. 185). It seems to him equally tasteless to mix up children with old people (cap. 378, 379).
Long before Charles Le Brun, Leonardo busied himself with the expression of the passions. Several chapters of the Treatise are devoted to this interesting problem. One (cap. 255) tells us how to represent anger, another (cap. 257) treats of the movements made when laughing and weeping, and describes their difference. Elsewhere (cap. 256) he asks himself how despair is to be painted, and arrives at the following conclusions: "A desperate man may be represented holding a knife with which he stabs himself, after having torn his clothes and pulled out his hair. He should stand up, with the feet apart, the legs slightly bent, the body bowed and about to fall, and with his other hand he should tear open and enlarge his wound."
As a theoretical painter, he also insists on the necessity for studying human expression and gesture from actual life, and not from models more or less trained to its display. "After mastering the
movements of the limbs, the joints, and the trunk, the movements of men and women require to be studied as a whole, and then we
should, with the help of short notes consisting of a few symbols only, observe (and record) the attitudes men take in their excitement, and that without allowing them to see they are watched, for if they once suspect this, their minds will be occupied with the watcher, and they will abandon their previous violence and frankness of movement. Examples: two angry men disputing, each believing himself in the right; they move their eyebrows, their arms and other limbs with great vigour, in gestures suitable to their intentions and their words. You could not force them to such a display if you wished to do so, nor make them simulate either this violent anger or any other emotion—laughter, tears, agony, admiration, terror, and other sentiments of the kind. To observe all this, form the habit of carrying a small sketch-book, the pages prepared with bone powder, so that by the help of the silver-point you may set down rapid notes of movements, attitudes, and even the grouping of spectators. You will thus learn how to compose scenes. And when your book is full, lay it on one side and preserve it for future use. Then take another and employ it in the same way. . . ." (cap. 179).
An enemy — if there ever was one — of (Vatican Library.)
formuke, the author of the Trattato yielded
occasionally to the temptation to impose over-narrow rules on his disciples. This we may see from the advice he gives on the