Adoration of the Magi, (1481-82)
Oil on panel 246 x 243 cm (96 7/8 x 95 11/16 in.)
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence
Study for the Adoration of the Magi (ca. 1482)
Pen, watercolored-brown ink and white lead with metal point traces on light brown paper162 x 290 mm
Prints and Drawings Department, inv. 436
Galeria degli Uffizi, Florence
In 1481 the monks of San Donato a Scopeto near Florence commissioned Leonardo da Vinci to paint an altar-piece celebrating the Adoration of the Magi. In one of the preparatory drawings, Leonardo drew with meticulous accuracy a refined perspective grid in order to place the architectural structures, the human figures, and the animals in a realistically proportioned way.
He drew a number of detailed preparatory studies for the final work on wooden panel that was left incomplete when Ludovico Sforza (1452-1508), the despotic Duke of Milan, called Leonardo into service.
In the work on wood, it has been revealed that Leonardo transferred the various parts of the study, enlarged, using lamp black. He then covered the composition with a thin coat of white lead priming, allowing the paint to be guided more easily onto the panel in a section of the sky as well as in faint shadows of some of the architectural components and figures.