Research 1

« Back

Comparison of Leonardo Da Vinci’s self-portraits

Research № 1. Comparison of "Self-portrait № 1" (on the left) and "Self-portrait № 2" (on the right). Young people of about the same age (15 - 20 years old, Caucasian type) are represented in both works of Leonardo da Vinci: "Self-portrait № 1" and "Self-portrait № 2". In spite of the fact that the positions of their heads (an inclination and turn) are different, the visually presented people possess typical similarity and there are enough signs of appearance which are subject to comparison.


Leonardo da Vinci self portrait №1 Leonardo da Vinci Self Portrait №2

   A comparative research to the people’s appearances, with the consideration of the angle and features of the image, was carried out using the method of visual comparison. To be able to do this, the images were brought to the same size (with an identical distance of 19 mm between the pupils), the image of the painting "Self-portrait № 2" was turned to the right to resemble the approximate position of the head of the person in "Self-portrait № 1" and both were bleached.

Leonardo da Vinci Self Portrait №1 Leonardo da Vinci Self portrait №2


   On the images below the matching signs of appearance with the subsequent explanations are marked in red.

Leonardo da Vinci Self portrait №1 Leonardo da Vinci Self portrait №2


Mark 1 – chin height (average), chin contour (triangular), 

Mark 2 – mouth size (average), lips width (average), 

Mark 3 – height of the upper lip (average), line between the upper and lower lips (wavy), contour line of the upper lip (curvy),

Mark 4 – contour of the philtrum (oval), 

Mark 5 – nose tip shape (roundish), nasal arch shape (crooked), 

Mark 6 – presence of a hump, 

Mark 7 – eye colour, palpebral fissure disclosure (average), shape of the inner corners of the eyes, 

Mark 8 – absence of overhanging upper lids, 

Mark 9 – eyebrows shape (arc-shaped), width, length, height of eyebrows, the interposition of eyebrows (spaced) 

Mark 10 – hair type and colour (wavy). 

Leonardo da Vinci Self portrait №1 Leonardo da Vinci Self portrait №2


  Along with the matching signs, the distinctions, which are marked in blue, are revealed: 

Mark 11 – chin features (flabbiness in self-portrait № 2) are explained by the position of the head (the chin lowered to the neck), facial girth. 

Mark 12 – different prominence of nose wings and a nostril shape – in this case, without having other images of these people, different turn of their heads and comparison of two different sides of their noses should be taken into account: right side of the nose in the first image, left one in the second - which may not be symmetrical and cannot be a steady distinction. 

Mark 13 – prominence of under eye bags (mildly prominent and moderately prominent) that can be explained by different health conditions, fatigue, illumination, and also different shades of the same eye colour (dark-brown and light-brown). The specified distinctions can be explained by different subjective portrayal of the people, illumination, the position of their heads, and also a minor age difference. 

    While carrying out the comparison of the images provided, I took into account that they are not an exact portrayal of a person’s appearance (a photograph), but the artist’s subjective vision (perception) with the features of the portrayal of people typical of that historical period. However, matching signs of appearance of the people in question are steady and individual, and the distinctive signs are quite explainable. From this it is possible to draw a conclusion that in the paintings the same person is depicted.