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Procrastinator Leonardo da Vinci never even finished Adoration of the Magi.

Our young ADD artist was commissioned by some monks from a now-vanished monastery in San Donato outside of Florence to make this piece. There were some major strings attached to this commission offering Leonardo land from the monastery as form of payment. On top of that, the monks required Leonardo to pay back 150 florins to pay an outstanding legacy on the very land they planned to give him as payment, LOL. Of course, Leonardo never completed the painting as he was known to work hard to receive commissions and then when the time came to create the artwork, he would typically start and never finish the thing. Take that sneaky cheapskate monks!

This work is considered the first Florentine masterpiece by Leonardo even though he said deuces to this work only one year after starting in 1482. He had instead opted to leave Florence for Milan to hand-deliver a silver lyre commissioned by Lorenzo de’ Medici to Ludovico Sforza as a peace gesture and to lobby Sforza to hire him as a military engineer. #hustling

The subject of Adoration of the Magi focuses on the Virgin Mary as the focal point and the Three Magi (wise men who came to visit baby Jesus) are on their knees, building a pyramid and indicating a psychological relationship that captures the precise moment where baby Jesus reveals his divine nature. In the background, a crowd of people gather and it is believed we can find a self-portrait of Leonardo to the far right of the painting. Combining figures of pleading men and armed horsemen, Leonardo turns a biblical subject into a everyday scene of normal human debauchery often described as an allusion to the decline of paganism and the rise of Christianity.

Although void of color, this painting on wood is considered an underpainting, essentially meaning what we see is the first stage of a painting, and even then this underpainting is incomplete. Although frustratingly unfinished, this work demonstrates visual proof of Leonardo’s obsession with light called sfumato. Sfumato comes from the Italian word ‘fumo’ which means smoke as Leonardo blurred the lines between light and dark. This painting measures at 8.07 X 7.97 feet making it his largest unfinished masterpiece.


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Here is what Wikipedia says about Adoration of the Magi (Leonardo)

The Adoration of the Magi is an unfinished early painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo was given the commission by the Augustinian monks of San Donato in Scopeto in Florence in 1481, but he departed for Milan the following year, leaving the painting unfinished. It has been in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence since 1670.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Adoration of the Magi (Leonardo)

Comments (1)

Breanna Larsen

I find this painting to be really interesting because to me it kind of looks finished but just a really old and faded painting, but to learn that it was actually unfinished is really interesting. I looked up the reason to why it was unfinished, and it wasn't a crazy story that I was expecting. The reason why Leonardo could not finish this painting was because he had to leave to go to Florence for Milan. When I do look at this painting, I still appreciate the unfinished work. There is incredible details within the background of the little statues and trees. I also love the details in the horse as well. Very beautiful painting.