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A painter even more pre-eminently than a draftsman, Leonardo avoided over-definite contours in painting. He modelled with colour and with light rather than with lines and hatchings. Here he speaks for himself in saying that “on the beauty of faces do not make the lines of the muscles too insistent (‘con aspra definizione’), but allow soft lights to melt gradually into pleasant and agreeable shades. ” He recommends the use of the same colour for the contours as that used for the background – in other words, he deprecates the practice of separating the figures from the background by means of a dark outline.

Of the two knives spoken of in the note only one appears in the painting in the hand of St Peter. There is also no apostle shading his eyes with his hand. In short, the action, though less lively and dramatic becomes more imposing and gains in elevation. A drawing in the Windsor Library where a disciple shades his eyes with his hand is also amongst these pictorial studies. It further contains St John with his head on the tablecloth and another apostle who approaches Jesus with a reverent inclination of the body.

The proof that this ruthless destruction did not occur during Louis’s first occupation of Milan in 1499 is evident from the fact that in 1501 the Duke of Ferrara was anxious to obtain possession of the model executed by Leonardo. ” Already very damaged in 1501, Leonardo’s monument was inevitably doomed. All the information we have concerning the other sculptures by Leonardo is more or less open to question. Among the works ascribed to him are: The Infant Jesus Blessing the Little St John, a terracotta, formerly the property of Cardinal Federigo Borromeo and a St Jerome, a high relief, formerly in the Hugford collection at Florence.

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