Exotropic Strabismus: What Aided Leonardo Da Vinci’s Talent For 3D Art? His eye disorder


LONDON: A common eye disorder may help explain Leonardo’s talent for three-dimensional representation and a sense of perspective in his mountain landscapes, according to research published in an academic journal.

The study examined two sculptures, two oil paintings and two drawings by the Renaissance master which it said showed “a constant exotropic strabismus angle of -10.3 degrees.”

Exotropic strabismus is a form of eye misalignment and is the opposite of crossed eyes, or esotropia. A 10.3 degree misalignment would be considered an average level.

People with strabismus often have monocular vision instead of binocular vision, which means that the two eyes are used separately, thus increasing the field of vision and depth perception.

“The presence of exotropia, especially if it was intermittent, may have contributed to da Vinci’s exceptional ability to capture space on the flat canvas,” according to research published in the journal JAMA Opthalmology this month.

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The newspaper said Leonardo da Vinci’s condition would be particularly useful “for describing the three-dimensional solidity of faces and objects in the world and the distant deep recession of mountain scenes.”

Professor Christopher Tyler, of the City University of London, who conducted the research, said: “It is believed that several great artists, from Rembrandt to Picasso, had squint, and it seems that Vinci had it too. ”

“The condition is rather convenient for a painter, because seeing the world with one eye allows a direct comparison with the flat image drawn or painted,” he said.

Tyler carried out the research by fitting circles and ellipses to pupils, irises, and eyelid openings, and then measuring the relative position of these features.

Da Vinci, who lived between 1452 and 1519, was a great Italian mathematician whose interests ranged from art to engineering and the natural sciences.

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