The Deluge, 15th Century Old Master Print (after) Leonardo Da Vinci

Best Offer
Quantity available: 1

Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) is known as an Italian Artist/ Polymath and the prime exemplar of a universal genius.The artist’s few works that have survived, together with his notebooks, which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and his thoughts on the nature of painting, serve as a contribution to later generations and a way to unravel the Renaissance man that is Leonardo Da Vinci!

This original woodcut (fragment) titled The Deluge (c1495) is an old master print after Da Vinci, portraying the cataclysmic scene of the Biblical flood. Various naked figures emerge from the water, some climb a tree while others scale a temple, surrounded by the crumbling ruins of a city. The Ark sits atop the flood waters in the midst of the chaos, whilst the desperate figures are absorbed in a vast landscape. The engraving contains many of the same elements that have come to define the artist’s genius and exhibits the intense quality of Da Vinci!

In this famous Story of the Flood, it is almost as if the Leonardo wished to emphasise the fact that nature itself cannot be adequately contained within man-made confines. Many contemporary experts agree that Da Vinci’s tendency to focus upon cataclysms later in his life, are reflected in the many drawings by the artist, of a mighty deluge. The obsessiveness with which Leonardo approached the subject reveals a deep-seated fascination with destruction. During the last years of his life Da Vinci produced what is known as his series of Deluge drawings. There exist several long passages in which Leonardo da Vinci describes with relish a huge storm describing the overwhelming struggles of man and animal against the forces of nature (Compare The Deluge engraving and thumbnails):

“...others with their hand over their eyes for the dust, bending to the ground ...those who remain standing may be behind some tree, with their arms around it that the wind may not tear them away...”

“Let there be represented the summit of a rugged mountain with valleys surrounding its base, and on its sides let the surface of the soil be seen to slide, together with the small roots of the bushes, denuding great portions of the surrounding rocks...the greatest will strike upon and destroy the walls of the cities and farmhouses in the valley.”​

In Da Vinci’s study of the head of a Grotesque Animal, the creature appears to have a lion’s mane, drooping folds of skin, a mouth like a dog, ears like a shaggy bear and strange wrinkled flaps from the brow hanging down the cheeks. The same obscure animal with protracted claws (see also DaVinci’s: Studies of Paws), is evident in the creature in The Deluge. In the artist’s other drawings of animals, the accuracy with which Leonardo rendered horses was to play out in a great mural commission, The Battle of Anghiari. Compare Da VInci's depiction in The Deluge of a drowning horse with it's play of muscles and powerful emotion!  

Da Vinci also wrote in his notes;

“Their (horse's) brows raised and knit, the skin above their brows furrowed with pain, the sides of the nose with wrinkles going in an arch from the nostrils to the eyes, the nostrils drawn up...the lips arched and the teeth apart as if crying out in lamentation.”

Leonardo Da Vinci has long been associated with the Golden Ratio: this geometrically pleasing concept appears to be the basis for the dimensions and other elements in the composition of the The Deluge. Leonardo da Vinci believed so passionately in the power of proportion he took it to new extremes, analysing the perfect proportions of a horse and a human. The artist did an entire exploration of the human body and the ratios of the lengths of various body parts: brilliantly exhibited here in The Deluge scene of vasty populated naked figures. Even the entire composition of The Deluge falls within Da Vinci’s Golden Ratio. Da Vinci mastered the use of perspective and gestural lines then used the mathematical principles of linear perspective – parallel lines, the horizon line, and a vanishing point – to create the illusion of depth on a flat surface.

The Deluge has originated from the mind of none other than the celebrated Italian artist, Leonardo Da Vinci, who furnished inspiration for Italian draughtsmen for generations to come through his designs.The dynamism of the landscape results from the lines that, swell organically in imitation of Da Vinci’s pen strokes and follow the contours of cliffs, earth, and trees. The changing directions of the curvilinear strokes, together with the contrast between areas of dense linework that read as shadow, and the areas of plain paper that read as patches of ground illuminated by sunlight, further animate the image.

This impression of the Biblical flood is an old master engraving design, rediscovered (after) Leonardo Da Vinci (formerly attributed to the artists Titian (1490 -1576) & Jan van Scorel (1495 -1562) - (Reference: The British Museum & Metropolitan Museum of Modern Metropolitan Museum of Modern Art). Speculative pieces continue to be studied and examined by academics, scholars and museums for their accurate provenance in art history: with new discoveries being formed and enlightened. The attribution of wood engravings after great artists from the Renaissance period continue to be disputed by experts. Curators and museums have failed to agree on certain known engravings, disputing artists and then reattributing works. The Deluge is a rare and exciting find indeed!

The Deluge is commensurate with age and has some early restorations and repairs. Please contact the Seller for a full appraisal on The Deluge, 15th Century, Old Master Print after Leonardo Da Vinci. 

Item Details

Reference #:
(Width x Height X Depth)
34.00 x 31.00 x 1.00
Woodcut Print on Paper