From the preface of da Vinci’s Thoughts on Art and Life by Lewis Einstein:
The genius of Leonardo as a painter came through unfolding the mystery of life. Like Miranda, he had gazed with wonder at the beauty of the world. “Look at the grace and sweetness of men and women in the street,” he wrote. The most ordinary functions of life and nature amazed him most. He observed of the eye how in it form and colour, and the entire universe it reflected, were reduced to a single point. “Wonderful law of nature, which forced all effects to participate with their cause in the mind of man. These are the true miracles!” Elsewhere he wrote again: “Nature is full of infinite reasons which have not yet passed into experience.” He conceived it to be the painter’s duty not only to comment on natural phenomena as restrained by law, but to merge his very mind into that of nature by interpreting its relation with art.
Resting securely on the reality of experienced truth, he felt the deeper presence of the unreal on every side. In the same way that he visualized the inner workings of the mind, his keen imagination aided him to make outward trifles serve his desire to find mysterious beauty everywhere. Oftentimes, in gazing on some ancient, time-stained wall, he describes how he would trace thereon landscapes, with mountains, rivers and valleys. The whole world was full of a mystery to him, which his work reflected. The smile of consciousness, pregnant of that which is beyond, illumines the expression of Mona Lisa. So, too, in the strange glance of Ann, of John the Baptist, and of the Virgin of the Rocks, one realizes that their thoughts dwell in another world.
One of the most powerful images of Tarkovsky’s Mirror for me, is the scene were Ignat leafs through a book of da Vinci’s drawings and sketches. An incredibly powerful artistic statement, similar to another which would appear in The Sacrifice as well (and which signified a new-found personal appreciation for this master and his exceptionally unfathomable essence).
I decided to spend the day imbued in his art, and with it, some sweet companionship to go along. The desserts are cashew and almond ‘cheesecakes’, each of different flavors (avocado and pepper, strawberry and pomegranate, blackberry and olive, and candied pecans). All of them went wonderfully well along with sesame and black pepper grissini. A most magnificent morning spent alongside his notebooks and studies on nature.
Knowledge of the past and of the places of the earth is the ornament and food of the mind of man.