The Easel

Leonardo’s drawings at centre of MFA show

Da Vinci can bowl us over –  even with his drawings. “Notice… her left cheek (on the right of her face) has no defining contour, just perfectly modulated shading. Also, that her hair and shoulders are only summarily sketched in. And that the top of her head simply peters out. All this conspires, by force of contrast, to give the woman’s exquisitely modeled face more immediacy…. Isn’t this just how we perceive a beautiful face that has turned to meet our gaze?”