Leonardo’s Missing Sketch for the Adoration of the Magi

  • Tomás García-SalgadoEmail author
Geometer's Angle


I begin with a question: in Leonardo’s famous Adoration of the Magi at what distance is the observer from the temple in ruins? The main clue we have to find the answer is the preliminary sketch of the temple, but it is not the one he transferred to the painting. I believe that Leonardo most likely drew another sketch; a sketch that somehow has been lost without leaving a trace. Based on the painting, I have deconstructed the perspective of the temple to see what Leonardo’s missing sketch might have looked like. Recently, multispectral imaging studies have made visible many of the underlying lines of the sketch and painting. However, here we discuss some aspects of the preparatory sketch that have not been yet thoroughly analyzed. The knowledge of perspective was in the making at the time Leonardo drew the sketch, so the way I see the sketch’s flaws shows the way new rules of perspective were found in practice. We are also able to tell here at which distance and height one has to stand to best view the painting correctly.


Leonardo da Vinci Adoration of the Magi Perspective construction Perspective analysis 



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Copyright information

© Kim Williams Books, Turin 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.National Autonomous University of México (UNAM)Mexico CityMexico

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