Leonardo DaVinci and Perspective – was he ‘out’?

From previous posts, you may see that I like the sketches of Leonardo DaVinci, and one sketch typifies his attention to figuring out how the world around him can be broken down into rules, such as those of perspective and vanishing points.

Here’s the picture in question;


Now, I had always assumed that the two sets of stairs were the same width and the three arches in between were the same width openings.

I decided to check Leonardo, by using Trimble Sketchup and its matched photo feature, and redraw the stairwells and arches.

Here’s my model from the same viewpoint;

sketchup_model_davinci_perspective_as drawn

Now, as you rotate the model…

sketchup_model_davinci_perspective_rotate 1

…You find that my assumption is incorrect;

sketchup_model_davinci_perspective_rotate 2

Did Leonardo get his perspective wrong?  It would seem an unusual way to build/design a structure.  Does anyone know if this was just a practice sketch or did the building already exist?

Here’s the 3D SketchUp file so you can see for yourself (just under 7+MB); http://www.glynnseal.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/blog/Sketchup_DaVinci_Perspective.skp

You will of course need SketchUp (free) from here – This is for the non-Pro free version; http://www.sketchup.com/intl/en/download/index.html

But you can also just download a viewer from here; http://www.sketchup.com/intl/en/download/gsuviewer.html

One thought on “Leonardo DaVinci and Perspective – was he ‘out’?

  1. I have discovered that the sketch was a study for the unfinished Adoration of the Magi painting. It is suggested that the ruins in the background of the painting (similar to the sketch study) are those of the Basilica of Maxentius… Not much remains of that which would be representative of the scale he drew his study.

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