Prado landscape without Sfumato.

Lake Iseo is seen in the upper left hand corner.  Tucked into the Italian Alps dominating the horizon.  Lake Garda is found in the upper right hand corner.  The lake pours its waters into the Mincio River.  Winding its way through the Italian foothills.  Spilling out over the wetlands of the national park. 


In the late 12th century, the Mincio River was dammed at Mantua, to protect the city.  Creating multiple lakes and bridges seen on the city’s northern banks.  The St. George Bridge seen in the painting.  Crosses the Mincio River at the entrance to the St. George Castle in Mantua.  Once the home of Isabella d’Este, here Leonardo drew the sketch of the Marchioness and began her portrait in 1500.

The Mincio continues on past the ancient bridges and towers of Mantua.  Joining the Po River after meandering a few more miles downstream.  The Mincio connects Italy’s largest lake, Garda, with Italy’s longest river, the Po.  Running hundreds of miles from the Alps to the Adriatic Sea.  


Unlike Mantua surrounded by water and in need of protection from overflowing rivers.  Milan was distanced from the river.  While working in Milan Leonardo designed waterway routes.  Connecting Milan with the Po River through a canal system.  Gaining access to the powerful lifeline of northern Italy.