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tv   The Virgin of the Rocks  Deutsche Welle  February 13, 2023 10:15am-11:00am CET

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the media ah and that's all for me and the new scene for now don't go away, doc fil is up next. okay. that the secrets behind a mysterious masterpiece by leonardo the beach and on their campus mckinnon will have a world news updates for you. at the top of the hour. i'm gab alphas from me and the new seem here and voted. excellent. now chicken delicate slip slip switch, nickel shape, many chip mean frish. like unless his teeth i've witnesses report has put both in mary, you pull a story of recent, lance rushes more in ukraine one year since the invasion began
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in february on dw. ah, it is perhaps the most mysterious work ever painted by leonardo da vinci so mysterious, in fact, that he painted not one but 2 versions of the work. and then had his pupils make several copies as well. that is perhaps the greatest leonardo masterpiece in the collection of the louvre and no, it is not the mona lisa. it is the virgin of the rock. the scene is nowhere described in the gospels, an angel and a christ child, presented to mary and the young john the baptist. what does it mean?
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why did leonardo set the scene in the cave? was there another symbolic meaning to this beautiful painting that perhaps we just don't understand today? you can see, i think the impacts of this what is enormous in times all in particular, i think the figure of the virgin within it. and what is the meaning of the mysterious under drawing that curator's discovered in the london version of the painting? perhaps the answer lies in a huge mountain range, just north of milan. using leonardo's notebooks that code ex atlantic us. we will follow and leonardo footsteps in search of the key that could unlock this grade, mr. ah.
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today, milan is a bustling city. it is quite literally poise on the cross roads between the european north and south m. but in the 15th century, the melanie's r t. c was far removed from the exciting innovations of the florentine renaissance . so what prompted lay on ardo in 1482, to leave florence, and come here in the land so different from his native tuscany. he did not want to work for business men for well merchants and for obscure bands of monks who had their friary outside the walls of florence or inside walls of
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florence. he really wanted to work for a prince to reduce he wanted to do a large scale engineering project and those were not going to be available to him in florence. what he was getting in florence is what you would expect from someone who was a young man had been trained up as an artist by one of the finest. goldsmith flush painters and florence of his generation morocco. he was getting alter pieces and things like that to paint for these obscure bands of monks outside the gates of florence. that altered peace was the result of leonardo as 1st big commission to paint and adoration of the majesty a key seen from matthew's nativity gospel for the monks of some donato escobedo. such nativity scenes were popular in florence because it created an opportunity to dress the 3 kings in the rich cloth that had made florence wealthy beyond compare.
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ah, many other famous florentine artists had painted such nativity scenes and established a basic iconography. but leonardo rejected that convention. instead he chose to place mary and her child at the center of a vortex of human emotions, ranging from wandering delight, to puzzlement and despair. ah, the young man at the far right is even looking the other way. some believe this is leonardo himself. the adoration of the majesty is very important for our story because it marks leonardo is development of narrative art. what that means is that it's really the 1st of leonardo, z literary works,
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a painting filled with allegorical and symbolic meaning. to background is equally mysterious. do these ruins depict the palace of king david or is it the basilica of mac census in rome? which, according to him and evil legend collapsed on the night of jesus, his birth. and who are these mounted warriors? are these the military escorts of the 3 kings, or is this a preview of the many wars that would be fought in the name of christ? what it shows is, at leon art, are really wants to establish himself as an artist and an intellectual who is no less lettered and educated than his rivals. this was a sore point because leonardo never had any formal education. i am well aware that people think that since i am not a literary man,
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i am obviously unable to express my ideas. what they don't understand is that my work is based on observation. the one and true mistress of knowledge rather than mere words. observation, the source of empirical knowledge would become the guiding agency of leonardo its career for the remainder of his life. that explains his desire to imbue the adoration of the magic with allusions to the psychology of a subject. even though that idea was lost on the good friars who had ordered the painting. and so the painting remained unfinished. not because leonardo walked away from it as some believe, but simply because the monks couldn't understand this very revolutionary design. another attempt to create a painting in the form of an allegorical poem was more successful. i think
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when i started pension generically been she, he chose her as his subject in order to explore the idea of how the poetic could be expressed in a portrait. how, how somebody so could be visualized and seen. and i think she has this elevated quality is almost remoteness. that when she looks at you and she does that very directly, she, she stands for something more than herself. she becomes a subject which is about poetic beauty is often argued that the, the fact that the panel on which to never has painted is caught at the bottom means that we've lost her her hands. we try to reconstruct the generic portrait by using one of leonardo's metal point drawings in the windsor collection and moved at the effect as quite remarkable. the orientation of the torso in the panel and into
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drawing is virtually identical. the lady is holding his sprague of some sort in our hands which may come from the tree behind her. that tree is at juniper tree janae pro in italian. and a clue that the lady is indeed geneva but in 1482 layer in ardo turned his back on florence and moved up north through the court of milan, ruled by duke no v coast, florida. lemon. it's interesting. when he went to milan he head, he went armed with his curriculum, v t a or his resume, which like a lot of subsequent resumes. exaggerated the the abilities of the person who had written it. and so he was saying that he could do things like blow up castle,
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build bridges, create chariots do. all of these things make massive canons. none of which he had any experience doing at all, as with a lot of eco, who was a very good talent spotter, was probably quite rightly suspicious. suspicious indeed, of leonardo had expected the duke to hire him on the spot. he was sorely mistaken. but there was another opportunity, an invitation to come to milan and work on an altered peace with 2 men on these artists, ambrosia and evangelista. the praise ah, quite possibly, the brothers had heard about leonardo work in florence and believe that his involvement would secure the satisfaction of their client. an organization called
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the conference unity of the immaculate conception for several painters to collaborate on appealing was unusual in florence, but not in lombardi. and most milanese artists were still mired in the gothic tradition, as witnessed by the mass of cathedral, still under construction number. oh, joe himself still painted in the rather stiff, conventional style of international gothic so clearly these melodies artists for hoping that leonardo could bring some of the magic and innovative spirit of florentine art to this project. and in this, they would not be disappointed in the subject of the painting was the immaculate conception. at the time it was
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a relatively new catholic doctrine that stated that mary, the mother of jesus, was conceived without the stain of original sin. ah, pope 6 as the 4th and even decreed that those who attended services on its feast day would be granted special indulgences, which reduced one's time in purgatory. ah, the problem was that since the doctrine was so new, no one had ever painted mary. as a woman, untouched by original sin. how do you visualize that? exactly? the answer we believe lies on the road to electro. just north milan around lake
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como and the amazing wonders that leonardo was just about to discover. and the mountains of luxury, ah, the landscape north alone, close to the lower alps was very different from the soft rolling hills of tuscany. ah, me for leonardo an irresistible opportunity to explore the formation of the earth and the movement of water observations that would soon failed several of us notebooks. ready ready ah. ready busy ringback because of the soaring mountains in this area,
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there are only a few roads, some dating to roman times. that makes it easier for us to reconstruct the path that leonardo would have taken and based on leonardo notes in the kodak atlantic us, we set out to follow in his footsteps. ready leonardo would have had a choice of 2 rats. want to travel along the western flanks of the lower grania along the shore of the lago, electrical, or 2 to turn east towards the upper deacon piano. and into the valley of sestina. we 1st chose the eastwards round to mount mondell. here is a mule path that leonardo must have followed for he rode the largest bare rocks
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that can be found in this part of the country or on mount mondell. it has at its base, an opening towards the lake, which goes down to 100 steps. and indeed, after climbing for an hour, we discovered what leonardo was riding about a steep rise of some $200.00 steps that leads to a mine the grotto, fet ada. as he rode. busy having wandered some distance among gloomy rocks, i came to the entrance of a great cavern in front of which i stood some time astonished. ah, i rested my left hand on my knee to see whether i could discover anything inside. ah, leonardo must have been amazed by the incredible range of forums and colors in this
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grotto ah min and the same tooth would later return in the version of the rocks. ah, from here, leonardo continued to climb up towards the untidy come piano. eventually, leonardo must have reached a monastery known as sunk, tomatti, a sopa, old jew, but offered where he travellers, and meal, and a bed for the night built in 1000 a day. it was recently restored. from here he may have sketched this famous drawing of alpine peaks now and the collection of the british royal trust me there. i saw above me, the dark sky and the sun, as it fell on the mountain, was far brighter than in the plains below. because there was less atmosphere
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between the summit of the mountain and the sun. mm. this is the moment that inspired leonardo, to develop his theory of optical perspective. the idea that distance should not be measured in purely geometrical terms, as most renaissance artists did. but as subtle changes in the color of distant objects, when you paint mountains, you'll see that from hill to hill, the base is, are paler than the summits as they receive beyond each other. from here, leonardo descended into the valley sus sienna, or they validate sassy, the valley of rocks ah,
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nearby is an impressive waterfall that they are not described in detail involved, sassy, now, as you travel the road from lego, you'll find on the right hand side, the troia river, which falls from a very tall rock. and where it falls, it goes under ground and the river and there. ah ah. even otto's keen, i also noted the unique flora of the region. here among great rock falls and waterfalls, my pillow grows abundantly. now this is clear evidence that les ricardo used his travels through this region and preparation for painting the
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virginal de rocks because it is this native plant the my palo that would reappear into painting. ah, leonardo then set out to explore the western part of the green, your mountains along lake lecoq. he would have had a stunning view of the town of mondell. what made this hill so interesting is that even today, it is permeated with a number of caves. one of these even served as a church and leonardo time we know from the current excellent, against that leonardo da vinci found case, very interesting. this is because of their darkness in their forbidding
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capabilities, in addition to finding them as a very interesting place to explore for fossils and rock formations and what sequence could possibly be hidden in a case ah, and one of his drawings. you can actually see that he has sketched a cave in one of these mountains. so we decided to go and see if we could identify i once again we follow a narrow path of steps until we suddenly come face to face with the mouth of a cave that until now has been completely hidden from view. ah, it is called the ground to be loud guns after we enter the cave and turn back
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towards the opening. we see a stunning view view that lay on our must have used as the setting for the virgin of the rocks. ah, not from the pictorial point of view, it makes perfect sense. the cave gives the painting and sense of scale and depths as the middle ground between the figures in the foreground and the lake shimmering in the distance in the background. but the question is, how could leonardo of send the use of a cave for a painting of mary's immaculate conception? ah, in an off itself, the motif of a case is not unusual in the art of the quarter agenda or the 15th century. had actually served as an important attribute for several figures and sacred art. one
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of these was john the baptist, who was known to preach in the desert. the gospel of matthew also refers to jesus fasting in the wilderness for 40 days and nights. ah. and saint jerome lived and worked near a cave in battle him where according to the tradition jesus was born. that is why renaissance artists usually depicted saint jerome at the mouth of a cave, including leonardo himself. the problem was that there were no craggy rocks and cliffs in tuscany. so what the local artist did, but simply use their imagination and stack stones in a large pile. thinking that this is what a mountain in the desert would look like. of course, leonardo would never be satisfied with such
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a solution. that's why he was so keen to explore the mountain region, north of milan, and observe the geological formations up close. the result was a series of amazing drawings that are now in the royal collection. at windsor. these drawings reveal lunar dos, careful observation of soaring mountains, stark walk formations and mysterious caves. and in the process, leonardo discovered something else. horizon, tuscany, everything is bains and light. here in the mountains, the light is much more subtle, filled with the contrast of bright and darker toes. art historians refer to this as sky out of school. the contrast between light and dark passages which up to this point had been missing entirely from quatro gentle art.
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ah, for example, in this nativity painting by bought the charlie. everything is cast in the same intensity of light, luminance, and color. but leonardo discovered that the subtle interplay of light and shadow using oil paint could make the human being much more lifelike. the quality of colors is determined by means of light. you'll see that whenever there is more light, it will better illuminate the colors true quality. so by casting his figures in a mysterious interplay of light and dark passages, devotional paintings could provoke a deeper emotional engagement in the fatal vice leonardo so intense iif, even a mit fonda. optician, von neumann, i was in a no gazette such as
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a death type, an against no farm, a dead leash chaplain gabriel ins i'm did playing against no form of human fab. up stooped ye. not nbc fun least could talk from ist human atmosphere. the fennel mina dashed it. in fact, leonardo had begun to experiment with such effects in his early paintings of the madame while still in the workshop of his master. fred, okay. as it is t ma am madonna. oh, isn't it to live in this is i for the flemish kite inside the mount? infamous guided side. this is thus beauty, my influences thought which end to finding ben's nitrogen does pivot to. i'm the bit a gate at the soon. heights, giles, east, he shoots the fall at steam, which i got is. i was in the now does soon. heights eod. unless we lock you from yet hot. that process of showing the madonna is a real woman, rather than
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a stylized object of veneration. culminated in the figure of mary of the virgin of the rocks. here is a convincing portrait of a young mother filled with love for her newborn son. it was so revolutionary that it took the city of milan by star. the impact of this work is enormous in times of in particular, i think the figure of the virgin within it, her face and that particular attitude that she has become repeated in just almost countless of these domestic devotional legs in particular. but you can see there is a real demand for the feature this incredibly beautiful, very idealized presentation of the virgin. i think the religious impact of the work in that sense is undeniable. but why did he put divergent in a cave? and why did he at the figure of the young john the baptist and the angel uriel?
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what does it have to do with the story of mary's immaculate conception? the answer may lie and mysterious 2nd century text known as the gospel of james me. according to this gospel, mary and her newborn son, jesus were forced to flee after king herod decided to massacre all of the infants born in and around bethlehem. during their journey, they met with the infant john, who was already living as a hermit in the wilderness, protected by the angel uriel in the middle ages, even into the renaissance. such apocryphal documents like the gospel of james had the same authority as the gospels in the bible. what makes this gospel
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so important is that is the 1st document we know of that advances the idea that mary remained a virgin all her life for leonardo, that's good of implied a direct link to the doctrine of her immaculate conception throughout his life. leonardo was fascinated with the mystery of human conception. in 15 o 6, he actually began to dissect female cadavers in the hope of understanding how life begins in the womb of a woman. ah, i want to understand the conception of man. i shall begin with the
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formation of the child in the womb and how the child lives in it and to what stage resides in it. ah ah. in death context, the cave is really an allegory of a womb, with its moist walls and running water. yet full of life, as shown by the flowers. these flowers, including the my pedal, were used in the middle ages as symbols of purity. thus illustrating the idea that mary was conceived in her mother's womb without detained of original sin. but that's not where the mystery of this beautiful painting ends. it became
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so famous that leonardo and a depraved his brothers wanted more money for it. going as usual, show you one, so that, that a little over a while now have a dummy can't validate the pool. i don't need to, you know, if i set it on the content, it took him on the yet good. now d k prime actually w le steven with me when the come from turn the object and it was sold to an anonymous buyer who some believe is none other than juke lot of eco's for himself. and also be out of one little bit. now to turn on solution animal. this is jenny, salty, nobody guess you did this thing that's showing the dish and they'll get it back on me. many years later, the artist agreed to paint a 2nd version. that is the painting of the version of the rocks that is currently
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in the national gallery in london. but actually that is where the problem really begins in, ah, for a long time this painting was a belief to be the work of one of leonardo students, such as well, try feel in his workshop. leonardo often tasked his pupils to make copies of his paintings. ah, in 2019, the national gallery used in advanced imaging technique, x ray fluorescence to reveal and dramatically different under drawing underneath the paint layer. it shows the virgin with her hand
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outstretched, similar to an earlier study for the iteration of the match i. as well as later in are those unfinished painting of saint jerome. very small or not for working for the 10, according to larry keith and the national galleries, head of conservation and keeper. the use of drawings to explore different ideas is very typical of leonardo. and he use and for different ends depending on the sort of artistic problem he was interested in sort of things he was working on use a lot of dark wash when he's trying to work out the fall of light and modeling through on light and shade to block out sort of the masses of where things would sit and how they would sit. and you can imagine something like metal point would be, lend itself very naturally to working out curls in hair or red chalk, or even black chocolate. mostly red chalk was, i was soft kind of crumbling texture and sharp hard lines,
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very useful for thinking about the fact perspective and things fading away into the distance which became variance. and later on those painting career me, ah, in the end, they decided not to pursue this revolutionary design and fall back on the same cartoons that he had used for the 1st version of the rocks. except for a few changes. but one of leonardo had developed this concept further. what would the painting have look like? to answer the question we reached out to good are there a leading artist previously produced, a faithful copy of michelangelo assisting chapel, fresco for the phil angels and demons. could he create a copy of the london version of the rocks? and then we construct the painting as layer and ardo originally envisioned it. you
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created a live size copy of the virtual de rocks in the london national gallery. what did you discover in the process about leonardo technique? awesome. i. i do classical paintings. i start out with what's called a sigh, which is monochromatic or established values instead of being too concerned about the colors. but in this case, i thought it went straight to the colors. what's important to understand about the time alina did in she, oil painting was new and florence, although to access the file for 50 to 100 years earlier, in flanders. so you had like yon, but i can these guys i did to nominate oil painting. the problem with oil painting at the time was that nobody really taught how to do it. so people or different schools are different to live, figure it out on their own, and they were so secretive about the techniques that i've heard stories that they
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would hi, the finish paintings for 2 or 3 years. so they're the cent, whatever the varnish painting would be gone. that's how it was prior to oil painting. like i said, people with asthma who totally are no, no hold to paint. well, nobody probably because as we know he's studied with or he didn't, he work and broke the studio and they did start dabbling in oil prior to that they're primarily painted in what's called tempera. what you have mixed with pigment and anc. and you can do phenomenal work with that, but you cannot do what the painting is perfect for that because the transition from dr. light can almost be imperceptible and it's only with oil, you can do that me. and here we can see clearly, i mean, this almost looks monochromatic, but there is such an incredible range of colors and values just in this phase. it goes from one call us to coal colors to colors like growth, bad or to, you know,
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i mean, just about everything is going on here. and that was something you couldn't put able to do before i'm in paint and some of this you can certainly understand. he would paint with his fingers. well, i would love to see some of the brushes that he had because some of that thin lines like in the here i, i can't possibly do what he did and he had something up asleep that i would like to know what he did. i think it's exciting. now the original of course was painted on panel. yeah. we decided to use canvas more a variety of reasons why was the difference of painting on with oils on panel versus canvas at the time you think canvas and linen was sort of new at the time. so they still have to sort of figure out how to do it. the obvious advantage for cameras as you can roll it up, it does need to be strict, so it's easy to transport anywhere these, this is a considerably more than 6 feet tall. so it's a big size,
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but the paint this is painted on, i think ocho poplar would poplar potter what? yes. and the advantage with painting on a wooden surface provided it's treated lies with rabbits, can glue the lighting and the justice that they use, they could send it out. you can have a super super smooth surface. i think we're canvas depending on how prepared you always fight the tooth of the canvas. that is sort of monotonous and repetitive. that's what many painters prefer linen. but lin difficult has this other disadvantages, like stretching and so forth. and yes, to have a separate prepared, right. max, a huge difference for the painting, how it here is, how it moves. that's the whole key to oil painting versus other things is how the paint moves on the surface right. now of course, in copying this work, you gain an incredible insight into the way layer and our to works, didn't you? could you tell us a little bit about yes, in terms of where you said a loses interest. areas are left very,
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very unfinished. very strange. you know, and he has that ram bronte equality. well, if you look at these colors and this landscape with these mountain states, it's truly psychedelic. i mean, it's so exalted who this kind of a landscape again, this is really from really not as dreams, and it's such an incredible check to the position to this brown and dark and sort of ominous cabinet cathedral type setting. and you see this, i did like landscape, we wouldn't have a swim in that thing here. i mean, whereas if you look, what is the genius behind some of those paintings is the fact that the subject matter is not necessarily everything is not translated for you. so you can engage your own imagination, much like reading a book versus seeing the movie. if you read a book, you fill in the characters and the landscape and the story for your own experience
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and something like that can be said about this too. and i think he also has enormous restraint because it's tempting to put these fantastic highlights up here in the toilet up here. if he doesn't do any of that. this is really sort of a background thing. and they only focus a part on this very brilliant landscape. back here, i really the figure that here that he has is a lie. that whether not you mentioned something about the fact that this passage right here is not done with the typical virtuosity that you would expect leonardo to display when doing drapery. no, i mean, if one of the not of strength was a drapery, i mean, he was obsessed for drapery with different sources of a light on the drapery. and we know how and believable from the state that we are. so and sort of surprising this is, this is ryan fairly accurately to do the copy. so this is fairly accurate to the original. you see here when he doesn't want to paint the hand,
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he just put it in to shadow like this here, right? so he just doesn't want to be bothered with it. now we also asked you to reconstruct what leonardo originally envisioned for this painting based on the under drawing that was discovered by the national gallery just last year. let's go to that painting here. so this is the painting that you created simply based on this one outlined drawing. what was that experience like? if i look at what so humbling, well you noted at inches when you look at his sketches that he does, he does the lines just perfectly, you know, he, he can do perfectly like that all along. so the, and the sketch that they found on the panel, which again, seems odd to me that he would have gone on and do a sketch like this. and also if, if you get, as i've grown quite fond of this composition,
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myself and you needed this, the figures to have that space and what the landscape being of the cathedral around it. you need that space around it. and to me, it seems like the pink figure had been as big as it is for the side where the hand with nowhere to go. obviously i don't know what's up with his hand. so it must have a meeting that i'm not aware of and. and then it just seems like something is missing. apart from the execution. when you look at this is by far superior p southfield is half is sacred, quality to it's really, it's a masterpiece center. you don't, you're kind of looking at this, this is, don't think so beautiful. me. ah, not,
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is melanie's period was about a balancing act between the perfect observation of the natural world on finding a route through to something that was more elevated, more beautiful than something that we would see around us. something essential, a quintessential, if you like. ah, you finds a painting that occupies the space between all world and between something more, more perfect. ah! for many months, leonardo searched for a way to capture the mystery of divergence immaculate conception. ah, he found it here in the mountains of la grange. ah,
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