Recto: A Stand of Trees


Leonardo da Vinci completed this drawing of an autumn forest using red chalk on paper around the year 1500. This image is currently on display in the Musee de Louvre in Paris. This drawing is significant because much of what da Vinci discusses in his notes published in Trattato Della Pittura is employed in this sketch. Notes associated with this drawing explain that "when light falls, the clumps of leaves will be seen standing out in relief; where the tree is in shadow, it will read simply as a silhouette" (Da Vinci 414). Da Vinci utilized his principals of how leaves interact with light to depict a relistic scenic image. 

In Trattato Della Pittura, da Vinci also discusses the four "modes" of tree growth and elucidates the behavior of elm tree development. The trees in this image are clearly elm trees fitting da Vinci's own description of how their trunks typically split and grow upwards and the top braches part to cast sunlight down to the central trunk. 


Da Vinci, Leonardo. Recto: A Stand of Trees. Verso: A Tree.” Royal Collection Trust,

Da Vinci, Leonardo. Trattato Della Pittura. Vol. I: VIII, 393-481.

Image is from the Royal Collection Trust digital gallery. 

Associated Place(s)

Timeline of Events Associated with Recto: A Stand of Trees


  • Leonardo da Vinci

Image Date: 

circa. 16th century