Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, The Adoration of the Magi, was commissioned in 1481 by the Augustinian monks of San Donato a Scopeto in Florence. Unfortunately, Leonardo left for Milan the following year, leaving the painting unfinished. Despite its incomplete state, it is known for its use of chiaroscuro lighting and formal complexity.
The composition creates a pyramid shape with an extensive gradation of light and darkness that enhances the dramatic effect. It is a depiction of the Adoration of the Magi based on Isaiah’s prophecy that kings will come bearing gifts to Jerusalem. Some characters are barely sketched out while others are more finished.
Recent diagnostic investigations by Maurizio Seracini revealed that the painting was carried out in two distinct stages. Despite being incomplete, The Adoration Of The Magi has been displayed at Uffizi Gallery in Florence since 1670.
Although unfinished, this work contains numerous elements that elevate it beyond a mere religious illustration. Its intricate detail and masterful use of lighting showcase Leonardos’ talent as one of history’s most celebrated painters.