The Da Vinci Scope


Can you identify this painting? It looks very old and very damaged. It seems to represent an aqueduct.

Let’s try taking a step backwards.


A city with two stubby, semi-Oriental towers, a clumsy whale, three boats, mansions which seem to be subsiding on a water front. Everything is a bit crooked and murky. It doesn’t look very good, to be honest. Except for that wonderful ship on the left-hand side.

Next step.


Things are looking much more handsome. Have you guessed the painting yet?


We’re miles from the city! The trees and the hand might give the painting away at this point.


Leonardo da Vinci’s Annunciation (Uffizi, Florence).

Now look at the full view of the painting and see whether you can make out where those arches in the first picture were. Basically they are invisible. (And how did he manage to make that tiny ship so beautiful?) That just shows the degree of detail you can see in the photographs of works of art  which are available to see here until 29 January 2011.

Not shown on that page, but also available is Botticelli’s Primavera. To see that, open up one of the five paintings from the Uffizi and then you’ll see small images of six paintings from the Uffizi along the bottom of the picture which appears. The second from the left is La Primavera. Click to open.

It is pretty amazing stuff. You can zoom into the cracks on the canvas, see single brush strokes and maybe identify new species of moulds.

By the way, the angel in Leonardo’s Annunciation was one of the best performers in the gymnastics competition for Angels which I organised some time ago.

Last quiz. Whose (left? right?) eye is this?


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