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His working methods and apparent dilariness were the despair of his patrons, and he left only a handful of paintings, few of them complete. At the age of forty he noted sadly, "I have not completed a single work."
Elsewhere he wrote, in a moment of deep discouragement,
"O Leonardo, why do you labour so?"
Isabella d'Este's secretary reported in 1502 to the persistent Marchesa, eager for an example of the painters work, "that his mathematical experiments have so distracted him from painting that the sight of a brush puts him out of temper."
Because of the fascinating complexity of Leonardo's mind and his tendency to withhold any final solution, the most fascinating of his paintings is the unfinished "adoration of the magi", which remains a glorified sketch.
This was the line at which I decided to do a little collaborative work with master Leonardo.
"What would secure the good, if the bad where to invade from the sky?" - Leo wrote in one of his notebooks, where his ideas were so often cryptically kept.
His advice to young artists in his "Trattato della Pittura": "You should often amuse youreslf, when you talk walks for recreation, in watching and taking note of the attitude and actions of men as they talk and dispute, or come to blows with each other...noting these down in a little pocket book which you out always to carry with you".
Living during the renassaince, a time much glorified by man today as one of great spiritaul revival and idealism, he looked in his later years toward a far off future and drew from epic visions of a might deluge falling from heaven to humble man and his constructs before the glory of a created natural world.
Once writing "The water which you touch in a river is the last of that which was, and the first of that which is to come".
One statement made about Leo by philosopher Benedetto Croce: "It seems that in him all of modern science is born, and that he is passing it on to succeeding generation s as in a grandiose sketch".
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"The eyes … are the chief means whereby the understanding may most fully and abundantly appreciate the infinite works of nature.
The eye counsels all the arts of mankind … it is the prince of mathematics … it has given birth to architecture and to perspective and to the divine art of painting. Painting encompasses all the ten functions of the eye, that is, darkness, light, body, color, shape, location, remoteness, nearness, motion and rest.
Because of the eye the soul is content to stay in its bodily prison, for without it such imprisonment is torture. Who would believe that so small a space could confirm the image of all the universe?"