Recently discovered sketches underneath a Leonardo da Vinci painting give us insight into his process
National Gallery

Getting to peek inside a great artist's process is fascinating. If we had a time machine, we'd be able to pick the brains of ancient artists who produced the work we now study in art history and gain insight into their technique. While can't go back and have a chat with Leonardo Da Vinci, we can still understand how he worked thanks to a discovery hiding within one of his works.

A scientific analysis of Da Vinci's paintings, "The Virgin of the Rocks," is giving us a glimpse inside the Italian Renaissance master's process. There are a series of sketches and hand prints underneath the finished product, which tells us he didn't get it right on the first try.

The painting has been around for over 500 years, and it is speculated that it was created between the early 1490s and 1508. "The Virgin of the Rocks" was painted for a church in Milan, but now rests in London's National Gallery. The museum will feature the recently discovered drawings in a new exhibit called Leonardo: Experience a Masterpiece, which will open in late 2019.


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The painting depicts the Virgin Mary and Baby Jesus sitting with the infant John the Baptist and an angel in a rocky location. The sketches suggest that Da Vinci had a more traditional adoration scene in mind when he began the painting. "In the abandoned composition both figures are positioned higher up, while the angel, facing out, is looking down on the Infant Christ with what appears to be a much tighter embrace," the London National Gallery explained in a press release. The angle of the Infant Christ's head was changed, and some of the angel's curly hair was removed. There were also hand prints where either da Vinci or an assistant patted down paint on the canvas.

The underdrawings might have gone undiscovered if it wasn't for the magic of science. "These new images were found because the drawings were made in a material that contained some zinc, so it could be seen in the macro x-ray fluorescence (MA-XRF) maps showing where this chemical element was present, and also through new infrared and hyperspectral imaging," the gallery explained.

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Da Vinci might have birthed some of the most famous paintings in history, including the Mona Lisa, but he didn't plop out perfection like it was nothing. The sketches show that the artist achieved his final product through trial and error. It takes a lot of work to get it just right.

So if you don't get something right the first time, don't sweat it. Leonardo da Vinci wasn't perfect, either.

Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
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Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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Photo by Daniel Schludi on Unsplash
True

The global eradication of smallpox in 1980 is one of international public health's greatest successes. But in 1966, seven years after the World Health Organization announced a plan to rid the world of the disease, smallpox was still widespread. The culprits? A lack of funds, personnel and vaccine supply.

Meanwhile, outbreaks across South America, Africa, and Asia continued, as the highly contagious virus continued to kill three out of every 10 people who caught it, while leaving many survivors disfigured. It took a renewed commitment of resources from wealthy nations to fulfill the promise made in 1959.

Forty-one years later, although we face a different virus, the potential for vast destruction is just as great, and the challenges of funding, personnel and supply are still with us, along with last-mile distribution. Today, while 30% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, with numbers rising every day, there is an overwhelming gap between wealthy countries and the rest of the world. It's becoming evident that the impact on the countries getting left behind will eventually boomerang back to affect us all.

Photo by ismail mohamed - SoviLe on Unsplash

The international nonprofit CARE recently released a policy paper that lays out the case for U.S. investment in a worldwide vaccination campaign. Founded 75 years ago, CARE works in over 100 countries and reaches more than 90 million people around the world through multiple humanitarian aid programs. Of note is the organization's worldwide reputation for its unshakeable commitment to the dignity of people; they're known for working hand-in-hand with communities and hold themselves to a high standard of accountability.

"As we enter into our second year of living with COVID-19, it has become painfully clear that the safety of any person depends on the global community's ability to protect every person," says Michelle Nunn, CARE USA's president and CEO. "While wealthy nations have begun inoculating their populations, new devastatingly lethal variants of the virus continue to emerge in countries like India, South Africa and Brazil. If vaccinations don't effectively reach lower-income countries now, the long-term impact of COVID-19 will be catastrophic."

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