Da Vinci’s Virgin of the Rocks, Saint Jerome & the ϕ Rectangle: Part I

Leonardo Da Vinci is in the news again.

He painted two versions of Virgin of the Rocks. The first from 1483-1486 which now resides in the Louvre, Paris and the second from 1495-1508 which is in the National Gallery, London.

Plate 1

Plate 1
Plate 1

 

 

It is this second (London) version that is in the news for recently found underdrawings that show a very different composition from the final painting. Plate 2

Plate 2: Underdrawing for London Version
Plate 2: Underdrawing for London Version

 

 

Not long ago Leonardo was also in the news for Saint Jerome Praying in the Wilderness, started around 1483, and still on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  Do you notice any similarities in the composition of the principal figures? Plate 3

Plate 3: Underdrawing Left - St. Jerome Right
Plate 3: Underdrawing Left – St. Jerome Right

 

This recent news provides a nice reintroduction the ϕ Rectangle. The proportions of the ϕ Rectangle are 1:1.618… and the proportions of these two paintings are 1:1.62 (Louvre version) and 1:58 (London version) which is pretty close given their age, scale and time of creation.

Here’s what they look like with ϕ Divisions, Primary Diagonals and Reciprocals. Plate 4

Plate 4

And here are the Primary Vertical & Horizontal SubDivisions. Plate 5

Plate 5
Plate 5

It looks like Leonardo derives the arch for both works by overlapping squares/circles with the ϕ Divisions. Plate 6

Plate 6
Plate 6

And here it is all together. Plate 7

Plate 7
Plate 7

What alignments do you see?

There is plenty more to look at here so this will be continued…