Da Vinci on … Backgrounds

Of Back-grounds

One of the principal parts of painting is the nature and quality of back-grounds, upon which the extremities of any convex or solid body will always detach and be distinguished in nature, though the colour of such objects, and that of the ground, be exactly the same. This happens, because the convex sides of solid bodies do not receive the light in the same manner with the ground, for such sides or extremities are often lighter or darker than the ground. But if such extremities were to be of the same colour as the ground, and in the same degree of light, they certainly could not be distinguished. Therefore such a choice in painting ought to be avoided by all intelligent and judicious painters; since the intention is to make the objects appear as it were out of the ground. The above case would produce the contrary effect, not only in painting, but also in objects of real relievo.”

Leonardo da Vinci, ‘A Treatise on Painting’, chapter CCLXV

Relevance to practice: Background Analysis


Da Vinci, Leonardo and Rigaud, John Francis (2015) ‘A Treatise on Painting’. Istanbul: e-Kitap Projesi


One thought on “Da Vinci on … Backgrounds

  1. Pingback: Background Analysis | The Photographic Art of Food - An MA Photography Project

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