It may be unfinished and studied by scholars as an early example of perspective, composition and ‘tekneek’, but is the Adoration of the Magi ©1481-82, a commercial project caught in a collision between the artist’s professional life and deepest personal musings?
Leonardo’s notebooks show clearly his exploration of the physical world, but it’s to his art we must look for his thoughts on subjects less tangible.
The nature of time is a recurring theme that finds it’s full expression in the primordial geology of the Mona Lisa. But it’s evolution can be traced back through several madonna’s to the Adoration where each dimension of time is granted the full focus of contemplation.
Behind is the past, sepia toned, solidified, unchangeable fading into the universal memory.
In the foreground, the present rides the edge of the nanorazor.
The baby, with no knowledge of the past, the future, or the passing of time at all. It exists solely for the micro instant. The older generation fading from the moment, holding the past and letting go of the future, and the youth, connected to the past only by degrees of separation, peering into the unknowable as the future evolves from infinity through the current, to eternity.
And what of the trees?? Bright specimens stand out in the washed up landscape of history, existing on a different time plane? A leap of philosophical contemplation into the realms of relativity.
Was Leonardo surprised to see his reflections materialise from his subconscious, moved to consider the work complete???? Bad luck for the monks who are still waiting for their altarpiece.