Artibus et Historiae no. 77 (XXXIX)

2018, ISSN 0391-9064

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MICHAEL W. KWAKKELSTEIN - The Limited Impact of Leonardo da Vinci’s Ideas on Painting in Sforza Milan (pp. 77–98)

The notes on drawing Leonardo da Vinci compiled during the 1490s while in Milan have only sporadically been studied in relation to the drawing practice of his Milanese pupils and closest followers. It has generally been accepted that Leonardo’s drawings and his rules on drawing exerted an immediate influence on the first generation of Lombard painters who worked with him in Milan. This article challenges this view and instead argues that these painters ignored most of Leonardo’s precepts on how to use drawing in order to acquire excellence in painting. It suggests that during Leonardo’s first stay in Milan his influence as a teacher of art was much more limited than has hitherto been acknowledged. Unlike Leonardo, his Lombard followers needed to be productive as painters and therefore had little patience with his notion of painting as an all-embracing science. This explains why they preferred not to study nature but to depend closely on Leonardo’s designs and models, a practice he severely criticized in his notes.

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