Ever wondered what is the secret behind Mona Lisa painter Leonardo da Vinci’s magical brush? How each of his paintings has that 3D effect that is not just astonishing but unimaginable for that time and era?
Well, it is now known. Latest research says that It could be his eye sight that was the reason.
Visual neuroscientist Christopher Tyler, from the City University of London, examined six pieces of art, including Salvator Mundi and Vitruvian Man. Five of the pieces depict an eye misalignment, consistent with a disorder called exotropia, that can interfere with three-dimensional vision, Tyler reported online in JAMA Ophthalmology.
Exotropia, in which one eye turns slightly outward, is one of several eye disorders collectively called strabismus. Today, strabismus, affects 4 percent people in the United States alone and is treated with special glasses, eye patches or surgery.
Tyler calculated the difference in eye alignment using the same measurements that an optometrist would indulge in. Most of the portraits showed that the eyes were misaligned, except the ‘Vitruvian Man’, which did not have any alignment issues. As a result, he concluded that da Vinci may have had intermittent exotropia, that was, perhaps controllable. “The person [with intermittent exotropia] can align their eyes and see in 3-D, but if they’re inattentive or tired, the eye may droop,” he says.
This itself, could have become his most positive strength as a painter. “The artist’s job is to paint on a 2-D surface,” he says. “This can be difficult when you view the world three-dimensionally.” Both eyes need to focus on the same subject for 3-D vision. Many artists shut one eye when they view the subjects of their drawings, so that they can translate it easily into 2D.
But, with this eye issue, da Vinci could have switched from 3-D to 2-D and back again with comfort.