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17 September 2014
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Adoration of the Magi
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The Adoration of the Magi was commissioned for the altar of the monastery of San Donato a Scopeto, near Florence. Leonardo agreed to paint it within two-and-a-half years, on the understanding that he would receive nothing if the work was delivered late.

However, he abandoned the project in 1482, tempted away by the Duke of Milan and the promise of a regular income. Although the painting is unfinished, it is considered one of Leonardo's most important early works.

The subject of the painting - the worship of the infant Christ by the three wise men (or Magi)- was a popular one in the early Renaissance. The ruins and the sparring knights in the background signify the decline of pagan culture in the face of a new Christian era.

Look For - In the bottom right of the drawing, facing away from the crowd, is a young shepherd boy. It is believed this may have been a self portrait.

The Madonna and Child are arranged in a pyramid shape, and the gaze of the central characters is focussed on the pyramid's side. Leonardo used this composition technique in many of his later paintings.
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