Arch. Myriam B. Mahiques Curriculum Vitae

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

TREES. From The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci

Tree One. Photocollage by Myriam Mahiques

The spaces between the parts in the mass of trees, and the spaces
between the trees in the air, are, at great distances, invisible to
the eye; for, where it is an effort [even] to see the whole it is
most difficult to discern the parts.--But a confused mixture is the
result, partaking chiefly of the [hue] which predominates. The
spaces between the leaves consist of particles of illuminated air
which are very much smaller than the tree and are lost sight of
sooner than the tree; but it does not therefore follow that they are
not there. Hence, necessarily, a compounded [effect] is produced of
the sky and of the shadows of the tree in shade, which both together
strike the eye which sees them.

That part of a tree will show the fewest spaces, behind which a
large number of trees are standing between the tree and the air
[sky]; thus in the tree _a_ the spaces are not concealed nor in _b_,
as there is no tree behind. But in _c_ only half shows the spaces
filled up by the tree _d_, and part of the tree _d_ is filled up by
the tree _e_ and a little farther on all the spaces in the mass of
the trees are lost, and only that at the side remains.

The outlines of the ramification of trees, where they lie against
the illuminated sky, display a form which more nearly approaches the
spherical on proportion as they are remote, and the nearer they are
the less they appear in this spherical form; as in the first tree
_a_ which, being near to the eye, displays the true form of its
ramification; but this shows less in _b_ and is altogether lost in
_c_, where not merely the branches of the tree cannot be seen but
the whole tree is distinguished with difficulty. Every object in
shadow, of whatever form it may be, at a great distance appears to
be spherical. And this occurs because, if it is a square body, at a
very short distance it loses its angles, and a little farther off it
loses still more of its smaller sides which remain. And thus before
the whole is lost [to sight] the parts are lost, being smaller than
the whole; as a man, who in such a distant position loses his legs,
arms and head before [the mass of] his body, then the outlines of
length are lost before those of breadth, and where they have become
equal it would be a square if the angles remained; but as they are
lost it is round.

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