6The Body in Motion

Leonardo perceived the living world as being in constant flux, its forms merely stages in continual processes of transformation; so it was natural for him to also understand the human body in terms of movement and development. He saw the body’s continuous movements—epitomized in flowing gestures, curling hair, or floating draperies—as visible expressions of grace, and he was a master in portraying such graceful movements in his paintings. The Madonna and Child with Saint Anne (plate 7) is perhaps his finest demonstration of graceful gestures fused into a single, continuous flow.

The association of grace with smooth, flowing ...

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