Page:Hind - Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, 1907.djvu/17

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THE DRAWINGS OF LEONARDO DA VINCI
 

physical strain of living continually on the heights. Rossetti composed verses that arc not included in his collected works. A distinguished living writer has confessed that the byways of his leisure are brightened by the study of criminology. The late Arthur Strong, commenting on the grotesques by Leonardo da Vinci at Chatsworth, contributes this curious and interesting theory: "His method was akin to the geometry of projection. Just as the shadow of a circle is an ellipse, so by projecting the lines of a human face of a certain marked type he was enabled to detect and exhibit, as in a shadow, the secret but most real kinship between the bête humaine and the dog, the ape, or the swine, as the case might be. In a sheet of drawings at Windsor we see the same process applied to the head of a lion until it quickens into a lower canine form."

The late librarian of Chatsworth also comments upon the copies and forgeries of drawings by Leonardo da Vinci that abound at Chatsworth, as in other collections. The process of sifting the pictures ascribed to Leonardo may be said to be complete. John William Brown, in the Appendix to his life of Leonardo, published in 1828, catalogues nearly fifty pictures from the hand of the master. Mr. McCurdy, in his study of the records of Leonardo's life, has reduced that generous estimate to ten. There is still considerable disagreement about some of the drawings, but there are enough indubitably authentic, a bewildering variety indeed, for all practical purposes of study, and to proclaim the abounding genius of this flame-like Florentine, whose mind was a universe and who "painted little but drew much" with "that wonderful left hand." The fact that Leonardo was left-handed, with the result that the shading of his drawings usually runs from left to right, and not from right to left, should be evidence, as Morelli and others have pointed out, of the authenticity of those drawings whose lines of direction run from left to right. But this test is far from perfect, as it is the first business of a forger to study mannerisms. Many of the drawings bear comments in his handwriting, which also usually ran from right to left, the famous letter to the Duke of Milan being an exception. A pen-drawing in the Uffizi has, in the lower part, a note from which the beginning has been torn away. The words that remain are : "... bre 1478 ichomiciai le 2 Vgine Marie," which may be interpreted, "October 1478, I began the two of the Virgin Mary."

Most of the drawings are made with the pen, others are in chalk and silver-point. In the well-known Isabella d'Este of the Louvre there are traces of pastel, and some of the sketches of drapery are drawn on fine linen with a brush.