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How did Leonardo perceive himself? Metric iconography of da Vinci's self-portraits

Tyler, C. W. (2010). How did Leonardo perceive himself? Metric iconography of da Vinci's self-portraits. Proceedings of SPIE, 7527, doi: 10.1117/12.846850


Some eighteen portraits are now recognized of Leonardo in old age, consolidating the impression from his bestestablished self-portrait of an old man with long white hair and beard. However, his appearance when younger is generally regarded as unknown, although he was described as very beautiful as a youth. Application of the principles of metric iconography, the study of the quantitative analysis of the painted images, provides an avenue for the identification of other portraits that may be proposed as valid portraits of Leonardo during various stages of his life, by himself and by his contemporaries. Overall, this approach identifies portraits of Leonardo by Verrocchio, Raphael, Botticelli, and others. Beyond this physiognomic analysis, Leonardo's first known drawing provides further insight into his core motivations. Topographic considerations make clear that the drawing is of the hills behind Vinci with a view overlooking the rocky promontory of the town and the plain stretching out before it. The outcroppings in the foreground bear a striking resemblance to those of his unique composition, 'The Virgin of the Rocks', suggesting a deep childhood appreciation of this wild terrain. and an identification with that religious man of the mountains, John the Baptist, who was also the topic of Leonardo's last known painting. Following this trail leads to a line of possible selfportraits continuing the age-regression concept back to a self view at about two years of age.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: Christopher W. Tyler, "How did Leonardo perceive himself? Metric iconography of da Vinci's self-portraits", Proc. SPIE 7527, 2010, Society of Photo Optical Instrumentation Engineers. One print or electronic copy may be made for personal use only. Systematic reproduction and distribution, duplication of any material in this paper for a fee or for commercial purposes, or modification of the content of the paper are prohibited.
Subjects: R Medicine > RE Ophthalmology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Optometry & Visual Sciences
SWORD Depositor:
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