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A Treatise on Painting, by Leonardo da Vinci
Senex and Taylor, London


LDE T0110   CID43  A Fault of some Painters who introduce a Figure designed for one Light, into a Piece supposed to be enlightened by another

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A Painter who had Design'd some particular Figure, with strong Lights and Shadows, shall frequently either through Ignorance or Inadvertency, introduce it into a Piece, the Scene of which lies in the Country, and demands a Light equally diffused on all sides, and which shows all Parts of the Object. By this means it comes to pass, that contrary to the Establish'd Rules of the*Clair-obscure, we often see deep shadows, where there can be none in Nature, or at least where they are almost Insen sible; and†Reflex's where there cannot possibly be any at all.

Clair-obscure, by the Italians called, Chiaro oscuro, is the art of managing Lights and Shadows: So when a Painter chuses an advantageous Light, and disposes his Figures so, as that they receive the Light which are set off with deep Shades, he is said to understand the Clair-obscure.

† Reflex is the Return or Rebound of the Light, bringing with it a Colour borrow'd from the Subject that sends it back.