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Did Leonardo da Vinci have strabismus?

A London researcher has suggested that the great artist’s eye misalignment could have contributed to his “exceptional ability” to capture space on flat canvas

27 Oct 2018 by Selina Powell

A UK researcher has suggested that Leonardo da Vinci had strabismus – an eye condition that may have influenced his creative style.

Writing in JAMA OphthalmologyCity, University of London’s Professor Christopher Tyler examined six portraits and self-portraits of the Italian Renaissance man, highlighting that “most paintings exhibit a consistent exotropic strabismus angle of −10.3°.”

“The presence of exotropia, particularly if it was intermittent, may have contributed to da Vinci's exceptional ability to capture space on the flat canvas,” Professor Tyler concluded.

The paintings, sculptures and drawings observed by the Optometry and Vision Sciences academic included an elderly self-portrait, David, Salvator Mundi, Young John the Baptist, Young Warrior and Vitruvian Man.

Professor Tyler highlighted that da Vinci’s ability to switch to monocular vision “would perhaps explain his great facility for depicting the 3-dimensional solidity of faces and objects in the world and the distant depth-recession of mountainous scenes.” 

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