Created circa 1510, this was certainly the direct result of more than four decades of talented dedication.
However, what is truly remarkable about this piece is the sense of emotion that it conveys to the viewer.
Is this old man a portrait of da Vinci himself and if so, what can we surmise from his appearance as well as other elements? These are two interesting questions to address.
A Forlorn Countenance
Upon first glance, we notice that the old man looks rather dejected and even detached from reality. His head is propped up with one hand and what appears to be a cane is held in the other. He is leaning slightly against a tree and gazing somewhere off into the distance.
This brings up an important question.
Is the man sad or is he simply absorbed in thought? If we take into account the extremely detailed images of flowing water found on the opposite page, perhaps he is only imagining currents and tides as they relate to physical motion.
However, there is nonetheless something rather sad in the man's eyes. The fact that da Vinci chose to accentuate this face while leaving the body only lightly sketched clearly illustrates that he wants to capture the attention of the viewer.
A Fading World?
Notwithstanding the seated man, there are very few other details in the left-hand picture. We see a slightly bent tree and what appears to be a farmhouse in the distance.
Both were hastily sketched and little attention was given to either.
It is almost as if the physical world has begun to fade from the perspective of the old man.
Has he become so absorbed in his own thoughts that physical reality no longer holds any value? If the images of water to the right were not present, this could be a valid conclusion.
An Appreciation of Nature
While flowing water is one of the most common occurrences on earth, da Vinci has captured such simple movements and transformed them into a visual dance.
Almost appearing as the braids of a maiden's hair, these images clearly illustrate the in-depth understanding that he had towards natural phenomena.
It is not known if these images were drawn in order to satisfy his proclivity towards engineering or they were simply a practice of mimicking real life with the use of three-dimensional sketches.
A Combination of the Two?
Experts still cannot agree as to whether these two works were meant to compliment one another or they were completely separate pieces with nothing in common.
Both theories make sense. From the first perspective, we can imagine the old man immersed in thought and contemplating the timeless movement of water. From the other opinion, perhaps the old man is reminiscing on past experiences while the world around him fades into the canvas of his previous life.
Regardless of the conclusion that they viewer eventually draws, the fact of the matter is that these two majestic pieces once again illustrate the natural talent that da Vinci possessed. Still, there is an undeniable sadness nestled deep within the sagacious eyes of the seated man.