Leda (c.1510; Milan, Italy) by Leonardo da Vinci

Leda - Leonardo da Vinci - c.1510; Milan, Italy

Artwork Information

ArtistLeonardo da Vinci
Datec.1510; Milan, Italy
Dimensions130 x 77.5 cm
Art MovementHigh Renaissance
Current LocationUffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy

About Leda

The artwork “Leda” is attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most renowned artists of the High Renaissance. Created circa 1510 in Milan, Italy, it exemplifies the mythological painting genre. The medium used is oil on panel, and the piece measures 130 by 77.5 centimeters. This artwork, which portrays the classical myth of Leda and the Swan, can be experienced in person at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

The artwork depicts the mythological story of Leda, a figure from Greek mythology who was seduced by Zeus in the form of a swan. In the foreground, Leda stands nude, embodying the idealized forms of the High Renaissance, with a serene and enigmatic expression on her face. The swan, representing Zeus, is nestled against her, and their intimate connection is a primary focus of the composition. Leda gently caresses the swan’s head and beak, suggesting tenderness in this mythical encounter.

In the background, the scene is enlivened with intricate details that characterize Leonardo’s style, such as the varied flora and intricate landscape features, including trees, rocks, and distant mountains, typical of Renaissance depictions of idyllic and harmonious nature. Below Leda, four children emerge from two split eggs – these are the offspring of Leda, who in mythology bore Zeus’s children, which according to different versions of the myth include Helen of Troy and the Dioscuri, Castor and Pollux.

Leonardo’s fine attention to detail, his mastery of human anatomy, and the use of sfumato—a technique of soft, gradual transitions between colors and tones—can be observed in this painting. The interplay of light and shadow demonstrates his deep understanding of chiaroscuro, further highlighting the three-dimensionality and sensuality of the figures. The overall composition with its allegorical elements captures the essence of the Renaissance fascination with classical antiquity and the exploration of humanistic themes through art.

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