Leonardo da Vinci's Yarnwinder
Leonardo da Vinci says in a Rebus how he will show us the same Island we have been looking for. The position of the Island of Avalon is replicated in his two Yarnwinder versions
Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452 and died on May 2nd, 1519. He was widely regarded as a genius and was responsible for much of the progress made in what is known as the Renaissance period. He was primarily a painter, but also a mathematician, a sculptor, an architect, a musician, an inventor, a geologist and a botanist. Much is known about his early life, but we are mainly concerned with his later life, when he worked for the King of France, and his relationship with the fabled island of Avalon.
He spent most of his final years in France in a home that had been given to him by King Francis I. Prior to his leaving Milan in 1499, he was commissioned to paint the ‘Virgin of the rocks’ for the ‘Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception’, but the second battle of Italy forced him to move, at a time when he lost his long-time patron Sforza. In 1501, Fra.Pietro, (an art agent) informed Isabella d’Este that Leonardo was painting the Madonna of the Yarnwinder for Florimond Robertet, secretary of King Louis XII. As we will see, both these originals seem to have been misplaced, but there are four paintings that exist toda that will interest us in our discovery of Avalon. There are two of each subject, the Virgin and the Rocks and the Maddona of the Yarnwinder, which experts say are by the hand of Leonardo. We will show that both sets are giving hints which indicate that Leonardo knew all about the Island of Avalon and are late copies of original paintings by the same name.
Figure 32 Showing the Buccleuch version of The Madonna of the Yarnwinder. The baby Jesus is pointing to Avalon and Leonardo is subliminally indicating that the Island is in a bay but more importantly Leonardo has portrayed it with the same profile.
In October 1515 Francis I recaptured Milan. Leonardo moved back to Milan and then to Florence. Around 1516, he was working in the Vatican in Rome with Raphael and Michelangelo. In the same year Leonardo was present at a meeting between Pope Leo the 10th and Francis I, after which he entered the service of the French King. He took up his residence in the manor house Clos Luce, close to the king’s residence at Chateaux d’Amboise. Here he would have met French courtiers, who were in awe of his genius, which was now renowned throughout the Renaissance world. Here he would have heard about the ‘Matiere de Bretagne’ which was made well known in aristocratic circles since the days of Eleanor and the Crusades.
Earlier in 1506, Leonardo took on another pupil, Count Francisco Melzi the son of a Lombard aristocrat, who by all accounts was known to have been his favourite student and rumoured by some to have been his homosexual partner. Francisco Melzi travelled to France with Leonardo, and remained with him until the latter's death.
Leonardo spent the last part of his life with his good friend and apprentice Count Francesco Melzi while receiving a sizeable pension from the King. Melzi participated in the four paintings we will investigate in the last three years of Leonardo's life. Upon Leonardo's death, Melzi, Leonardo’s confidant, inherited the artistic and scientific works, manuscripts, and collections of Leonardo. He also dutifully administered his estate after his death while Salai, Leonardo’s other great friend received his vineyards and some paintings.
It has been posited that Leonardo at some time was the leader of a secret group called the Priory of Sion. In recent books such as The Da Vinci Code, it was brought to the attention of the mainstream public that the Priory's main mission was to reveal at some later date the secret of Mary Magdalene and her marriage to Jesus or some such revealing news. The Holy Blood, Holy Grailwritten by Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln in the early 1980's was the beginning of a long trail of similar theories. ‘Holy Blood, Holy Grail’gives a list of Grand masters and a date for Leonardo's time as ‘Nautonier’ in the secret ‘Priory of Sion’. These were from documents deposited in the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. The documents showed evidence supporting the existence of the Priory supposedly deposited by Pierre Plantard, and have since proved to be an elaborate hoax. The list purported to show Leonardo with an illustrious array of luminaries such as Botticelli and Isaac Newton, Grand Masters also as part of the hoax. However, with the evidence we have uncovered regarding the deception carried out at Glastonbury, let us not for the moment discount the likelihood of Leonardo being entrusted with knowledge pertaining to Joseph of Arimathea, the Magdalene, or the whereabouts of Jesus's body, all of these having storylines that seem to a large extent to emanate from France. Most of these also flying in the face of Catholic dogma are all stories likely to have been repressed, running contrary to the Catholic account of events surrounding Jesus.
Most of the painting commissions that Leonardo undertook were either from a religious institution or they contained material of a religious nature. It is plain to see in most of Leonardo's later work what could be construed as total irreverence toward the Roman Church, and towards the version of historical events that it promoted. The Roman Church had created an infallible man, the Pope, as part of its own self-promotion and its own version of events to claim a lineage through St. Peter. Meanwhile Great Britain had its own version of events which, if proven, would shake the Holy Roman Empire to its core.
Let us assume for a moment that while at the French court, Leonardo was made privy to some such version or even an early non romanticised French version of the Grail Book. By the time the sixteen hundreds arrived the Grail stories were widely known and had been propagated throughout Europe and in them might be subliminal information regarding who might be in the tomb that noone knows who occupies it and the mention of scented cedar oil and the oft mentioned shroud or cloth in the Perleasvaus. Don't forget Leonardo was the master of transferring information in a subliminal way.
Had Leonardo become enlightened by information from this source at some stage because it would certainly go some way to explain the irreligious iconography portrayed in his paintings for his Catholic patrons.
If King Louis had come into possession of Eleanor of Aquitaine’s book while married to her, then the chances are that Philip would now possess the copy. Philip and Leonardo became close friends in the last years of Leonardo’s life. In fact in the circles that Leonardo mixed, this knowledge could have come from various sources. If Leonardo learnt of these ancient traditions of the Magdalene's presence in France and of Joseph of Arimathea's arrival on the British coast, let us assume that Leonardo as a pilgrimage or out of curiosity would have wished to behold such a sacred Isle as heralded throughout the Grail stories that existed in England in the 'Vaus d'Avaron'. After having voyaged on such a pilgrimage and with a sense of some urgency in old age, was it a case of Leonardo wishing to convey to posterity, the secret whereabouts of Joseph of Arimathea's burial location by including its geographical features into four paintings?
There are two ‘Madonna of the Yarnwinder’pictures, both have the same subject which are the Madonna with the baby Jesus, but the two of them have completely different backgrounds. The two ‘Virgin and the rock’s’ paintings however, have the same subject and background for both. The central two subjects, are known to have been done as previous studies that were worked on by Leonardo for the two compositions which are not known today. There was an original ‘Virgin and the rocks’painting and also an original ‘Madonna of the Yarnwinder’, but instead the four extant paintings today are reproductions of the original studies, but with pertinent information pointing to Avalon contained within their new background compositions.
Although Leonardo in 1480 had received payment for his commission for the ‘Virgin and the rocks’, it had not been completed, while the two side panels for the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception in the church of San Francesco Maggiore in Milan had been completed by the Predis Brothers. This, later on, circa 1506, led to lengthy negotiations over its completion and final payment. This appears to have happened, as a sum was paid to him in 1507. There are accounts of the clients being unhappy with the subject or treatment of the paintings but this is surely here say based upon the two surviving versions. It would seem that the Confraternity received a first version that is now unknown today or by some accounts this painting had never been started and was probably finished during the period that Leonardo was with Count Melzi at Clos Luce. No one can really understand how there are two versions of the same painting.
Is it a coincidence that there were two ‘Virgin and the rocks’ paintings, while the only other example of this duplication of composition verified to be of Leonardo’s brush, is of the ‘Madonna of the Yarnwinder’. It is these four compositions that shall comprise the subject of our investigation.
The sketches or study for the ‘Virgin and the rock’s’ composition, were in Leonardo's notebooks for a time prior to its delivery and this can be evidenced by his agreement to finalize the original after the lengthy dispute. It would seem as if his cartoon was complete and his studies finished, and thus his acquiescence to agree to complete the painting within a two year period.
The painting was originally to be done in conjunction with the De Predis brothers and was to fill a large complex altarpiece, already constructed. There is conjecture however that the painting which they received has not come to light as yet in the modern era. For the Confraternity, Leonardo had discussed and chosen to paint an apocryphal picture of the infancy of Christ, when the infantJohn the Baptist, in the care of an angel, met the Holy family on the road to Egypt.
Figure 33 Shows the London version of the ‘Virgin and the rocks’
The ‘Virgin and the rocks’ painting seems an odd choice of subject and subject matter to duplicate. Most experts today believe that the ‘Virgin and the rocks’ relates to the Virgin Mary’s flight into Egypt. It would be fairly obvious even to the Italian clergy that the geology of the rocks in the painting has little resemblance to any structures in Egypt or the Holy land and there is no evidence of a story in which the Virgin Mary finds herself in the cave by the sea.
Let us assume that the subject of this apocryphal picture might have been proposed earlier by Leonardo to his patrons, but the final content of the two pictures extant today were based upon what he and Melzi had seen on a trip across the English channel which included a few irreverent additions from the original. Even the Italian clergy would have immediately seen the sexual innuendo of the background featured central to the painting if it had been in the original. The subliminal message here is male penetration of the womb with two offspring.
The Virgin and the rocks is almost certainly a depiction of Mary Magdalene's arrival on the British coast and we shall leave aside the subject of the two children for the moment only noting that the angel depicted is probably not Gabriel or Uriel but Michael. Suffice it to say that the visually older face of the child on the right could be construed as the later appearing St. Michael in human form rather than angelic as the hand from the Angel links them.
After Leonardo’s death it is probable, that Melzi sold one of the paintings and upon hearing that such a scandalous and irreverent replica was painted by the same artist as their original commission, The Confraternity set out to buy the other one. One of the later copies, stayed with the king of France and is now known as the Louvre version and Gavin Hamilton ended up with what is now known as the London version in 1785.
Leonardo's penchant for visual puns is blatantly apparent in these four later paintings. Vasari, who wrote biographies of several artists of the period, comments on Leonardo and says that his “cast of mind was so heretical that he did not adhere to any religion”. It is understood that he retracted this comment because throughout Leonardo's paintings there is in fact evidence that he is a believer, but it is blatantly evident in his later work that he had no respect for religion or for the clergy, even though they had been his patrons. It was perhaps with his superior knowledge and genius that he relied upon his patron’s ignorance, and filled his paintings with apocryphal iconography.
There is no doubt that his depicted tangible geographical features are found at or near Burgh Island, at Thurlestone rock and the outcrop of rock on the point of Bantham beach. On one level they are masquerading as vaginal penetration. On the other they are depicting the surrounding features of a specific locality. It would be quite ridiculous that the Confraternity would accept a painting where the Virgin Mary was depicted as flat-chested and sitting in a dank cavern, surrounded by phallic rocks and womb images with a twenty year old face on the baby St. John when all of Leonardo’s other children are positively cherubic. The Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception upon hearing of this other version of their own commissioned masterpiece after Leonardo’s death, would have made efforts to purchase the London version sold onto Gavin Hamilton. This would have muted any denigration of their own original and was probably sold cheaply to them by Melzi or his son.
One can see the similarity of the central rock feature in both versions of the painting, replicated by the large outcrop of slate that is just behind the cave found in the Mermaid pool on Burgh Island.
Figure 34 Showing the same vertical rock formation and fallen rocks as seen in both versions of the ‘Virgin and the rocks’ paintings.
The Mermaid pool is part of the Burgh Island hotel from where both paintings derive their location and setting and has exactly the same geographical features. The fallen slate and the fauna in figure 34 are coincidentally very similar to that which is depicted in both versions. The whole, when combined with the features of the cave and Thurlestone rock and the local directions given by Melkin to the entrance of the tunnel should leave no doubt that Leonardo visited the Island of Avalon. Leonardo’s aspect depicted many of the local features, some as far away as Thurlestone and conglomerated them all into one scene with the additions of his own artistic license and iconography.
Copyright The Francis Frith Collection
Figure 35 The only known photo of the cave in 1925 depicted to the left of both the London and Paris versions of the ‘Virgin and the rocks’, situated in the Mermaid pool.
In broad strokes the supposition is that, Leonardo and Count Melzi, took a voyage by boat across the channel to what was then known as St. Milburga (Michael’s Rock), now the modern day Burgh Island, on which stood St. Michael's Chapel built 200 years before hand and erected as a guardian protector and marker, over the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea and the relics of Jesus.
Although the first mention of the chapel was in 1381, it would almost certainly have been constructed at the same time, as the flurry of other St. Michael churches. In a survey of the Parish of Bigbury in 1752 there is only a brief mention of a ruined chapel on ‘St. Michael de la Burr island’. The chapel was said to be of semi-circular form, five paces long and four broad with a small window at the East end and one at the South side.
Apart from Melkin’s testimony and the Grail stories, in none of the earliest references to Christianity’s arrival in Britain, is Joseph of Arimathea mentioned. The first literary connection of Joseph of Arimathea with Britain is in the ninth century ‘Life of Mary Magdalene’ attributed to Rabanus Maurus, Archbishop of Mainz; and the earliest authentic copy of the Maurus text is housed in the Bodleian Library of Oxford University. Rabanus states that Joseph of Arimathea was sent to Britain by Philip, and then informs us of who travelled with him as far as France; "the two Bethany sisters, Mary and Martha, Lazarus, who was raised from the dead, St. Eutropius, St. Salome, St. Cleon, St. Saturnius, St. Mary Magdalene, Marcella (the maid of the Bethany sisters), St. Maximin, St. Martial, and St. Trophimus or Restitutus." Rabanus Maurus continues with their voyage to Britain:
‘Leaving the shores of Asia and favoured by an east wind, they went round about, down through the Tyrrhenian Sea, between Europe and Africa, leaving the city of Rome and all the land on the right. Then happily turning their course to the right, they came near to the city of Marseilles, in the Viennoise province of the Gauls, where the river Rhône is received into the sea. There, having called upon God, the great King of all the world, they parted; each company going to the province where the Holy Spirit directed them; presently preaching everywhere’.
We now have an account from around 800AD concurring with the information supplied by the Grail writers that Joseph had gone to Britain. The Book of the Grail had obviously arrived in Europe by this time but it is possible that the information about Mary Magdalene was being ignored for reasons to do with her relationship mentioned in the original Latin book or purely because the account of her movements after she disembarked at the landing point in France are recorded by French tradition and Melkin in his Grail book mentions her no further. As many have posited before, was the marriage where Jesus turned water into wine in Cana, really a record of Jesus’ marriage to Mary Magdeleine? Why is there enmity between her and Jesus’ disciples and is it because Jesus was married to a women that came from Great British stock known as ‘Mag d’elaine’? Mary's city, Magdala, is mentioned only once in scripture, in Matthew 15:39 and is not proven to have existed as a place in the Holy land or anywhere else and is only posited as existing on the edge of the sea of galilee because of Luke’s account 23:49 as "women who had followed him from Galilee" standing at a distance or from Luke 23:55 where he describes the witnesses merely as "the women who had come with Jesus from Galilee".
According to Luke 8:2 and Mark 16:9, Jesus cleansed Mary Magdalene of "seven demons". This may be a misinterpretation and will be better understood when we cover the seven year Sabbath of Biblical time in a later chapter. If the marriage in Cana was at the beginning of Jesus’s ministry Mary Magdalene does not feature until the time of the crucifixion and resurrection when she comes to the fore in the gospels as someone close to Jesus. Uniquely among the followers of Jesus, she is mentioned by name as a witness to Jesus' crucifixion, his burial, and the discovery of his tomb being empty. Mark 15:40, Matthew 27:56 and John 19:25 mention Mary Magdalene as a witness to the crucifixion, along with various other women. Mark 15:47 and Matthew 27:61 both name only two witnesses who saw where Jesus was buried by Joseph of Arimathea, Mary Magdalene and "the other Mary", who in Mark is "the mother of James" Jesus’s mother. John 19:39-42 does not mention Mary as a witness to Joseph's burial of Jesus but instead mentions Nicodemus. However, John 20:1 then names Mary Magdalene in describing who discovered the tomb to be empty. Mark 16:1 says, Mary was accompanied by Salome and Mary the mother of James. Luke 24:10 says the group who found the empty tomb consisted of "Mary Magdalene, Joanna, Mary the mother of James, and the others with them". We can be sure with this level of presence and concern over Jesus body by the Magdalene she would have known of the whereabouts of Jesus’ body. When the body was removed (if it ever was) from the temporary grave site mentioned in the Gospels, Mary was going to know where his body was, especially if she were his wife. As we shall uncover shortly, Mary was certainly aware that his body had been swaddled in the cloth that surrounded his body (the Turin Shroud) and that he had been placed in the Grail Ark. It is surely her that would have sprinkled flowers on his body and would have accompanied it on its Journey, but Rabanus is ignorant of what traveled with this company as only the privileged few actually knew that Jesus’ body had been transported to Sarras.
In the Greek translation Jesus is mentioned as the son of a τέκτονος. However in the Hebrew text of Mark 6:3 Jesus is not posited as a carpenternor son of a carpenter. He is mentioned as the son of a craftsman. A craftsman can either be of wood metal
or stone. The verse in Mark 6:3, "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joseph and Judas and Simon" is actually written in Hebrew: בן החרש הלא אמו שמה מרים ואחיו יעקב ויוסי ושמעון ויהודה
The Hebrew word ‘בן החרש’ actually meaning "son of the craftsman" so Mark 6:3 should be rendered in English as "Is it not him, son of the craftsman?. Is not his mother's name Mary and his brother's Jacob, Yosef, Simon and Yehuda?". Now here we have Gospel writers and later Roman apologists trying desperately to square a father called Joseph with a Virgin birth to concur with the prophets that would validate Jesus’ Messiahship. Is it mere coincidence that Joseph the elusive father has the same name as Joseph of Arimathea. If Joseph of Arimathea was in fact the metal craftsman who had returned to Jerusalem with his son who had brought along his girlfriend and who was shortly to be married, many of the loud silences and discrepancies, concerning the Holy Familiy’s marital circumstances starts to make sense especially Jesus’s brother being called Joseph, the Josaphes of Grail legend fame.
‘Elaine ofCorbenic’ however is identified as "The Grail Maiden" or "Grail Bearer" and is a character in the early Grail romances. She is the daughter of King Pelles, the Fisher King and the mother of Sir Galahad by Sir Lancelot. She first appears in The Lancelot Vulgate Cycle but fully emerges as a character in Malory's later ‘Le Morte d'Arthur’. Her first significant action is showing the Holy Grail to Sir Lancelot. Elaine's father, King Pelles better known as the king of Sarras knew that Sir Lancelot would sire a son with Elaine, and that the child would be Sir Galahad, known as "the most noblest knight in the world". Moreover, King Pelles foretells that Galahad will "achieve the Holy Grail". Are we seeing here echoes of what Melkin related as the joining of Judah from the Pharez Davidic line to the Zerah line through the King of Sarras’ daughter.
Leonardo has depicted Mary Magdalene arriving on the British coast as some of the legends have it, probably after landing in Marseille, and then travelling North through Carcassonne and Renne le Chateau, to arrive at a destination which Joseph of Arimathea had visited many times previously or possibly even owned. Certainly if Jesus had spent his formative years in Britain, he would have had ample time to form a friendship with Mary and thus the deafening silence of the Gospel writers which has given rise to their rumoured close relationship. She would want to accompany Jesus to his final resting place in her own country but to avoid the Bay of Biscay’s notorious weather, travelled the overland route, which is the most popular tradition, especially held by the French. If she was indeed Jesus’ wife there would be every reason to follow the Casket or Ark that contained the body of Jesus to England to an Island originally owned by her Father.
Leonardo has purposely placed Mary Magdalene geographically, as arriving at Burgh Island, with two children, being greeted and under the watchful eye of St. Michael the Archangel which suggests that Leonardo is appraised of the St. Michael connection. One the differences between the Paris and London versions is that in the Paris version the Angel is pointing at the Grail now we have understood that one aspect of the Grail is Jesus. Coincidentally this is mentioned in the Perlesvaus:And on the right hand he seeth an angel, passing fair, that pointed with his finger to the chapel where was the Holy Graal.
Incidentally, the rocks onto which the Phoenician captain led the Roman ship, related by Strabo at the mouth of the Erm estuary, are still called “Mary's rocks” today. The rocks depicted in the background of his Virgin and the rocks paintings are actually those viewed through a now blocked up cave on the island. This cave (fig 35) bears a remarkable resemblance, to the almost identical cave depicted to the left of Leonardo's two paintings. When viewed in the sunlight it was commonly known to give off a greenish blue hue caused by the Devon slate, which coincidentally is the greenish hue also depicted in the London version. Until recently the rocks that are completely uncovered at low tide, less than 100 yards away were also called Mary's rocks. Modern charts mark them now as Murray’s rocks.
It was during this brief period but unrecorded in biographical works of his life, that Leonardo and Melzi undertook the overnight sail by boat to Burgh Island while history records that he was in Clos Luce in France. It seems as if it is a case of Leonardo having heard and understood the ramifications of that which was subliminally transmitted in the Grail stories....... was intent on discovering where the Island of Avalon really was and replicating its position in two of his paintings.
The Priory of Sion lists Leonardo as Grand Master of this secret society in 1510. This list could be a partial representation of another such secretive society or sect or even a continuation of Templar or masonic connections, but it does not discount the evidence that Leonardo seemingly had to have visited Burgh Island and the Aveton Gifford estuary, in order to have been able to paint such a likeness of it for posterity in the two extant Yarnwinder paintings known to have been painted by his hand.
By making two separate depictions of the same location, it is safe to assume that, he was doubling the chance that they would survive for posterity, therefore the location of the Holy Grail and tomb of Joseph of Arimathea would not be lost to posterity. The proofs of Jesus’ crucifixion that were left in Britain would be found, but when this was to occur, Leonardo would trust to ‘fortune’.
Since the crusades in the 11th century, the Templars had become a very powerful institution throughout France. It is rumoured that much of their wealth was derived from the temple in Jerusalem and then brought back to France, but realistically it was derived from the aristocracy joining their ranks from across Europe. Due to their immense wealth, they amassed arcane and occult knowledge from older institutions which already pre-existed in France, some of it being derived from the Grail book that had traversed the channel from Britain. Secret societies like the institutions of the religio-military orders of the Hospitalliers, the Templars, and the Teutonic Knights, which originated in the crusades, gave rise to other societies such as the Freemasons which might have maintained their core illuminate, (the custodians of arcane knowledge), even more in the shadows, as the societies evolved. It has never been quite understood how the hierarchical structure of the Templars operated, but it would seem as regarding their end and the death of Jack de Molay, that the organizational structure still continued after the death of the Grand Master.
As Ictis evolved into what is probably the primordial bank or first safe vault, by its proximity and ideal trading location to the tin industry upon Dartmoor....... so too was that tradition of banking later to evolve as a Templar institution. It was known that any reputable person with a letter of recommendation from one outpost of the Templar Empire, could rely on it being honoured as a guarantee of his credit worthiness in any other country where they were established. Such was the power of the Templar organisation that, on October 13 1307 the French king, in conjunction with the Papal See, set out to destroy that institution.
Leonardo being entrusted with important knowledge from a source which was either the French court or possibly a residual cell of illuminate from the Templars, put his faith in ‘Lady Fortune’(as will become apparent) and on his return to France painted ‘The Virgin and the rocks’ and the ‘ The Madonna of the Yarnwinder’, two of each version with small differences and in fact one of the Virgin and the Rock’s Paintings remained unfinished. He used panels which were half started with other work on them in his studio as soon as he returned to Clos Luce. These were destined for other works already started in his workshop, but these were the panels he would use to act as a geographical hint on the whereabouts of Joseph of Arimathea's resting place for future generations. Unlike the English version of events concerning Joseph, Arthur and the island of Avalon.... Leonardo may have indeed been aware of a more French tradition involving the arrival of the Magdalene at that same island which is why he chose his subject.
It is not a leap too far, to assume (since Leonardo was trying to convey to us through his paintings) that there was known to him a specific location, where Jesus's relics were considering all the subliminal information concerning the Shroud and the Tomb that was related in the Grail literature...but we will cover that shortly. It is also no coincidence that the tomb mentioned as containing an unknown occupant...... also was on the island of Avalon which was the final resting place of Joseph of Arimathea.
Melkin's prophecy lets us know that Jesus was in the same location with Joseph and since Melkin buried Arthur and named this place Avalon, it is quite possible that Leonardo was following a French Magdalene tradition that names the same island. It is more probable however, Leonardo being the master of the subliminal message.... understood exactly what the Grail stories were imlying and what the Grail really was.
This in any case, would certainly be a good enough reason for Leonardo to return to his studio and produce the four paintings one after the other to preserve Avalon’s location. Leonardo may however, have chosen the Magdalene as a subject because of the prevalent stories in France that were entirely separate from the Grail stories. The Joseph material that came from France had little association with the Magdalene but as we have seen by the account given by Rabanus, the tradition associating her travel with Joseph existed, but was largely not romanticised by the Grail writers unless Elaine is understood as Mary Magdalene or the Widow Lady or the Queen of Maidens etc. It is not stated categorically that Mary accompanied the Grail to England, but when one starts to read between the lines of the Perlesvaus (as we shall deal with later) we can see that Mary arrived at Avalon with the Grail.
For posterity’s sake, Leonardo took it upon himself to paint pictures with certain geographical features that would indicate the islands whereabouts or the subject’s connection to it. It is quite feasible to assume that he did not want this knowledge to be lost, being unaware of Melkin’s strictly English prophecy and believing that he was the sole person, (enabled by his talent), to perpetuate this important knowledge. His skill in painting the four pictures was to replace any verbal transference of the secret information.
When Leonardo returned from Burgh island, having only recently painted the ‘Virgin and the rocks’ painting for the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, it would have been no great effort to reproduce two other identical paintings, but with different geological and geographical backgrounds. The clues now hidden in the paintings for posterity would be visible in two separate paintings that would confirm the location. The geology of the painting (one of Leonardo's special fields of interest) can be found to have many features that strike a remarkable resemblance to features found on Burgh Island. By portraying what is supposed to be the Virgin Mary amongst these rocks with the Archangel Gabriel, the baby St. John and Jesus; Leonardo is showing his complete contempt of religion and irreverence for his original patron and his belief in the story of Mary Magdalene travelling through France and arriving on the British coast, incorporating his newly understood belief that Jesus’s actual remains are buried in Burgh island. These two other paintings were to act as a snub to the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception after a lengthy dispute. This dispute was only resolved in 1508 but as to when the Confraternity actually bought the London version is not recorded. It is highly probable that the original supplied to the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception between 1508 and 1516 was then sold to Ludovico Sforza Leonardo’s old-time patron.
The feature shown in figure 36 is the retaining wall that now forms part of the Mermaid pool on Burgh Island. The internal part of where the cave was is also bricked in and is now flooded with sea water as shown in figure 37.
Figure 36 Showing the bricked up wall of the cave from the seaward side. The cave is shown in both versions of the Virgin and the rocks.
Figure 37 Showing the cave from the Mermaid pool now acting as a water retainer for the tidal pool.
Figure 37 shows the cave which was bricked up in 1939 to form a dam to contain the mermaid pool which looked out towards what was then known as Mary's rock. The rock is very prominent at low tide just off Burgh Island and would have been the only small craft navigational hazard in the days of Ictis. The cave was said to be filled in for safety reasons but by coincidence, now helps retain water in the Mermaid Pool. This was constructed as a seawater swimming pool for the Burgh Island hotel. The bridge formed naturally by the rock over the top of the cave still exists and is similar to that bridge like formation to the right of both Virgin and the rocks paintings.
Copyright The Francis Frith Collection
FIG 38 The cave before deep construction of Mermaid pool circa 1930.
The other strange feature in Leonardo’s Virgin and the rocks painting is a dolmen like rock that almost becomes the main feature of the painting and which exists on the other side of the bay at Bantham. If one was to go to the next beach along the coast and look through a natural feature called Thurlestone Rock (through this stone or ‘Holestone’), at the dolmen like standing Stone which is a natural feature at the foot of the cliffs at Bantham, one would find that it lines up with the entrance to the harbour. The same harbour, which as we have discovered, was busy trading tin ingots but more importantly, was the same entrance that the Templar treasure ships used.
Figure 39 Showing Burgh Island to the left with the ‘Great white palace’ above the tidal causeway, but also looking through Thurlestone rock at the large rock off Bantham, forming the same image as in the Virgin and the rocks.
Figure 40 Showing the ‘Virgin and the rocks’ Paris version.
Showing the tidal waters at the heads where the river Avaon exits just beneath Folly hill and one can see the Vertical columb on the headland that features in the photo looking through Thurlestone rock
Figure 39 shows the intention of Leonardo to portray association between three things subliminally i.e Vaginal penetration, Mary Magdalene and geological features close to Burgh Island, in one caption. The two Yarnwinder pictures however are actually geographically indicating the location of the island of Avalon, while the Virgin and the rocks paintings act more as an indicator of the exact whereabouts and location of the entrance to the vault on the island. Is the Archangel Michael, pointing to his island in the Paris version, while Jesus is pointing ‘up high in Ictis,’ as Melkin directed us earlier through the word ‘supradictis’, to the location of the vault. If Leonardo did see some of Melkin’s geometry from the Grail book, the three circles as halos in the London ‘Virgin and the rocks’ painting could be hinting at the same three circles needed to locate the island of Avalon in our geometric construction of the pyramid. The first circle found from the perpetual choirs defining the top of the pyramid, the second circle defining the size of the pyramid, and the third circle’s circumference being defined by the plateau of the Cheops Pyramid, and passing right through Burgh island. We will look at this possibility of Leonardo being aware of geometry in the Yarnwinder pictures shortly, but these circles and John the Baptists staff are said to be later additions by modern Leonardo experts.
Leonardo da Vinci is best remembered as the painter of the Mona Lisa recorded as being painted circa 1506. But he's almost equally famous for his astounding array of multiple talents: he scribbled many of his thoughts and inventions into his various notebooks, which have now become known as ‘Codex’ with various names, stored or displayed in different institutions or private collections across the globe. He made detailed drawings of human anatomy, machine inventions and animals, which are still highly regarded today.
Leonardo is sometimes considered as not being fully sane by critics because, in his notebooks are entries in mirror reverse script, a trick which probably kept many of his observations from being discovered until years after his death. Another penchant he had was to create small pictures which conveyed words, phrases and even sentences, known as ‘rebuses’. These rebuses, a series of visual puns, were more than just a whim for Leonardo and he looked on them as a means of conveying or encapsulating an exact phrase by graphics. All of his pictographs, including the ‘winged cat’ and his series of pictograms with the black Yarnwinder, are found on just one double sided page, kept in the Royal Library at Windsor Castle.
For the moment though, let us focus our enquiry on the other two paintings that Leonardo left behind, with a view to ‘showing’ to posterity the whereabouts of the relics of Jesus.
Figure 40a Showing the Lansdowne version of the Yarnwinder with the Aveton Gifford tidal road and bridge on the river Avon leading downstream to Avalon.
There are two paintings of the ‘Madonna and the Yarnwinder’ which are widely accredited to Leonardo, the Lansdowne and the Buccleuch version. Two versions of the same subject associated with Leonardo and student are said to be the only extant copies of the original subject. The artist was documented as working on a small picture of this subject in 1501, after his return to Milan from Florence, for the French Secretary of State, Florimond Robertet, who is said to have taken possession of his picture in Blois in 1507.
The theme of the painting, which is likely to have been agreed upon by Robertet and Leonardo, the same main subject as the original, focuses on the mother’s love for her child, showing her, lovingly adoring her son. The gravity of both of the paintings with near identical subjects is based upon future contemplation of the crucifixion of Jesus. The baby Jesus is completely preoccupied with a black yarn-winder which, by virtue of its similarity to a crucifix, is largely regarded as an icon of his death. Most art experts today concur, that both of the Madonna’s in the paintings were done in part, by the hand of Leonardo, with input from one or more students. The results of recent critical examination indicate that the overall design of the work is likely to be the work of Leonardo, as are some areas of the composition, such as the finely modelled head of the baby Jesus and the deftly painted geological features in the foreground. The rocks in the background are a representative depiction of the Burgh Island rocks in the Buccleuch version, as seen in figure 32.
In old age, Leonardo chose these two subjects of which he had previously made a study, as the main feature of four paintings designed to perpetuate the whereabouts of a location. It seems that much like Melkin, Leonardo intrinsically understood that in its appointed time, Joseph’s tomb would be unveiled and the clues left behind by him would be enough for its discovery. These four works, the two Virgin and the rocks and the two Yarnwinder pictures are from the same painting style era, in which Leonardo painted his Mona Lisa, and show the shadowy quality which encompassed much of his later work from France known as "sfumato" or Leonardo's smoke. This technique, perfected only much later on in Leonardo's life, suggests that all four of these paintings were worked on while living at Close Luce, while it is likely that the original for the Confraternity may also have been completed there or sometime just prior.
Figure 40b Showing the similarity of perspective and rock formation as seen in the Buccleuch version.
Leonardo da Vinci was a man not unlike Melkin in his mind-set; a definite believer, as Melkin was, but as is evident of both, slightly irreligious. However, it would seem that they both took pleasure in inventing, composing and toying with riddles, Melkin’s riddle though, being of an entirely different composite structure, but with the same purport as a rebus. There are many examples of Leonardo's rebuses on the double-sided sheet at Windsor but especially, there is an elaborate one that includes an image of a black Yarnwinder.
Over time, Leonardo's interest in vision and perception increasingly became fused with his literary inquiries and recreations. His essential enquiry was a search for the different forms of conveying ideas. From the very beginning of his artistic career he was aware that subliminal messages and ideas could be transferred to the consciousness of mankind by many means. He explored many avenues of this type of communication, probably in an effort to recall thoughts that he had; instead of remembering the thought pattern precisely at the time it went through his mind. He experimented with thought pictures much as a savant would view and recall information from his memory in this fashion. One such rebus, on the upper left hand side of a page in his Codex at Windsor Castle in the Royal collection, Leonardo drew a series of thumbnail sketches, together with descriptions, that portray, from right to left; a pear tree “pare”, a saddle “sella”, a lady with a sail“fortuna”, a personification of lady fortune; two notes on a musical stave “mi”and “fa”, (as in the ‘Sound of Music’); a fern “felce”, the letters ‘T’ ‘A’ and‘L’ ; a face “vise”, and most importantly a black Yarnwinder “aspo nero”.
When read fluidly together, Leonardo's picture forming words, elaborate into the phrase in Italian, “Pero se la fortuna mi fa felice tal vise asponero,” which literally reads; ‘However, if fortune makes me happy, I will show such a facet’. An odd choice of terminology to experiment with in picture form and not a phrase one would choose to practice memory recall. At the end of the sentence the two words 'aspo’ and ‘nero' flow together to sound the phrase 'asponero' meaning “I will show” but also link the phrase to the word ‘Yarnwinder’. Just what is it that Leonardo wishes to show us by his Yarnwinder? Why is it that the two Yarnwinder pictures definitively attributed to Leonardo portray an Island in one and a serpentine river with a road running alongside with a bridge in the other? These are the same set of features as found in Aveton Gifford, as the river flows to Avalon.
Figure 41 Showing the tidal road and bridge as seen in the Lansdowne Version.
The bridge as shown in figure 41 was finished in 1440 about 70 years before Leonardo’s arrival and has the same profile as in the Lansdowne version of the Yarnwinder. The arches that are not visible are now on dry land, with the river running away in the background and the tidal road is following the river as in the painting. As one has already observed with Melkin’s subtle artistry in constructing his riddle, so too Leonardo da Vinci was equally ingenious.
Figure 42 Showing the bridge, and tidal road running alongside the river as can be seen in figure 47a
It once transpired that Carlo Vecce when posed the question, 'what was the strangest intellectual experiment of Leonardo's life’; replied ‘the compilation of his rebuses or series of pictographs.' It was really Leonardo's foray into subliminal communication and its various forms. The big question is, why and what was Leonardo’s intent by experimenting with such a strange phrase, if it was not intonating that he wanted to show or manifest something through his Yarnwinder pictures. Leonardo da Vinci has left evidence in his notebook through this rebus, that we can deduce he was looking at ways of conveying hidden messages subliminally cached in his painting of the Yarnwinder. He was actually toying with the thought that was going on in his head and the message which he was trying to convey. The transliterations of his thought would be;”by whatever means it might be discovered, I will rely on fate to show its whereabouts in the picture of the Yarnwinder”, or perhaps, “however it may happen through fortune I will show its face.” The subtlety of inference which Leonardo is conveying is the Yarnwinder, not forgetting that an ‘aspo nero’ is a black Yarnwinder and when said without the correct syntax, the sound of 'asponero' said all at once, gives the meaning, “I will show” or make manifest.
Leonardo’s rebus art was certainly not new to the 16th century art scene but many patrons loved the puns and hidden meanings but others thought it was of a dull nature aimed at the dim-witted. Outwardly this form of communication does seem unnecessary when there are more formalised methods. Leonardo’s form of esotericism as we shall see, has his own message imprinted within these paintings.
An explanation however, of some form of pun to a patron for instance, while he and Leonardo stood side-by-side admiring a new work, might not prove to be the real and genuine explanation that Leonardo might proffer. Any such double meaning that a patron might have stated would have been met with Leonardo’s approval and agreement at the patrons viewing and this would have been especially applicable to the two Yarnwinder versions in which Leonardo had already imprinted his hidden agenda within the paintings.
The secretary of state to Louis the 16th, Robertet, had commissioned this work of the original which was to become known as the “Madonna and the Yarnwinder”. Robertet would have accepted any explanation that Leonardo might have given him as to the iconography of the painting. Whatever explanation Leonardo gave and what constituted the background of the original, no one will know, unless it is rediscovered. Fra Pietro da Novellara, Isabella d'Este's art agent in Florence once remarked when he saw the original Yarnwinder for the first time in 1501, that the Virgin, in fulfilling her maternal duties, 'was intending to spin some yarn' and that the ‘child appeared desirous of the cruciform object, and was unwilling to yield it to his mother’. The black Yarnwinder which the Christ Child holds, is commonly understood by admirers as both a symbol of the Virgin's domesticity and Jesus’s prior knowledge as a child, of the pending crucifixion and it is probable that some such banal explanation was given originally at Robertet’s viewing.
It seems that the reference in 1501 was to his original composition that is now lost or was more probably in reference to a preliminary cartoon. There are a few other old compositions of this painting, at least five old versions are in private collections, two of them in the United States but it is the ‘Buccleuch’ version and the ‘Landsdowne Madonna’ which were painted by Leonardo and Melzi after their visit to Burgh Island on the British coast, that concern us most in our further investigation. They were certainly painted in tandem as the joint geographical detail shown in figure 44a would be coincidence in the extreme in the fact that together they geographically portray the Island of Avalon, the very mystery we are told to look for in the Yarnwinder paintings by Leonardo himself.
The Buccleuch version has the Virgin’s middle finger pointing to the fact that Jesus is not circumcised. This same poignant feature, originally present in the Lansdowne, was recently shown up by infrared reflectology (as seen in figure 43), but at the transfer from panel to canvas the feature of the finger and the genitals has been completely erased. The most famous of the other copies, painted with a garden background accentuates the the pointing finger to uncircumcised genitals and this particular esoteric feature may have been in the original. Apart from the exaggerated finger, strangely both the Buccluech and the Lansdowne versions depicts a group of three or four people in front of an arched structure which can be seen plainly in the infrared reflectogram mosaic. The fact that both of these versions have this similar image that has been painted over in both versions indicates that Leonardo had other intentions for these paintings which were obviously being constructed at the same time in the studio. Logically he would not make the same under drawing twice, to then paint over it.
The only reason that the two paintings of the Lansdowne and the Buccleuch have these same features is that they were being painted in tandem as replicas until Leonardo changed his mind and decided to portray a single location splitting the geographical details between the two versions. However, some critics have posited that one of the other older versions that are extant might be Robertet’s original but this seems unlikely due to the proportional irregularities and lack of skill, as witnessed in the Buccleuch or Lansdowne versions. It seems more likely the original is still to come to light or has been destroyed. The fact that so much is made in the older versions of this overly enlarged forefinger pointing to a physical feature that would definitively distinguish every Jew from the uncircumcised nations seems poignant.
One would think that since the Lansdowne and Buccleuch has this group of people (albeit painted over) and this feature is found in other versions; it would indicate that this feature was probably in the original for Robertet. Since this same feature is painted over in both versions they were obviously destined to be replicas and were being reproduced at the same time. Leonardo’s ‘Avalon’joint geographical depictions are painted over pre-started works and shows that the background which only works in tandem in figure 44b was the desired goal in leaving a clue for posterity.
Figure 43 showing by infrared reflectography, the finger that has been left out of the final version of the Lansdowne painting as seen in figure 44
Figure 44 Showing the disappearance of the middle finger that is shown exaggeratedly in the Buccleuch version and even more so in the private version (oil on canvas) with the garden scene as below.
Figure 44a Showing the uncircumcised Jesus with the finger pointing to that fact. Oil on Canvas, thought to be by a Leonardo pupil that would have seen the original.
However ,the earliest reproduction found of the Lansdowne painting is the one for the New Gallery Exhibition, London in 1893/94. It shows how the painting looked before it underwent the transfer from panel to canvas around 1910 and the fingers on the Madonna’s left hand as she grasps her Child seem to be there but they were eradicated after its transfer from a panel to canvas support. In between 1911 and the New York World’s Fair 1939 Jesus’ genitals were removed altogether as seen in figure 44 and the Catalogue of European Paintings and Sculptures from 1300-1800 compiled by George Henry McCall. There were other changes made to the Lansdowne in this transition but it is the fact that in many versions of the Yarnwinder this exaggerated finger pointing at Jesus’s gentials seem to be a poingnant feature.
These picture puzzles, largely misunderstood, could outwardly mean whatever anyone saw in them, but it seems Leonardo was intentionally communicating to posterity, thus his reference, “I will show a facet of it”. A man's character is often discovered by looking into his face and the visage often portrays that which one would like to remain undisclosed. Leonardo was hinting by reference to a face or facet that he intended to show through the Yarnwinder paintings, his subliminal message. Like a pun, Leonardo’s picture puzzles relied upon the choice of words that have more than one meaning.
Under a rebus image on the same double page in Windsor, is Leonardo’s drawing of a cat with wings; he wrote 'pia gatta vola' which means ‘pious eat flies’ which, when said quickly, sounds like 'piang a tavola' or, in English, 'painted on panel'. It is thought that many geniuses like savants are juvenile in their humour, thus it is not difficult to imagine Leonardo taking great pleasure in asking some religious patron, if he would like his painting on panel, while at the same time having a quiet chuckle at his ignorance, all the while, verbalising his thoughts openly in words, but not his intended feelings. Interestingly both ‘Virgin and the rocks’ paintings by Leonardo and both versions of the Yarnwinder were originally executed on panel.
Exactly what information did Leonardo leave in his paintings for us to identify Joseph of Arimathea's and Jesus’final place of rest and why did Leonardo choose the symbol of a Yarnwinder? Was he spinning us a yarn or telling us a story or using the Yarnwinder stem as a substitute for the hidden directions of Melkin? Did he really know that one day we would find his rebus with the Yarnwinder mentioned in it? Did he split the geographical information containing the island's whereabouts into two separate paintings maintaining the same principle subject, one indicating the Island of Avalon and the other the river Avon leading to it, so that the area would not be instantaneously recognised?
Figure 44b Showing the merged paintings of the Lansdowne and Buccleuch versions exactly replicating the perspective of their geographical locations i.e the relational distance of the river Avon and Bantham to Burgh Island. This has been ‘roughly Photoshopped’ to show the small corrections necessary to locate Avalon.
Figure 44c1 Showing the similar perspective and relational proportions of the two merged backgrounds as shown by Google Earth. Note the rotational shift of the Yarnwinder Stem that subliminally indicates the Joseph line as shown here as it crosses the landscape to Avalon, 104 nautical miles from Avebury.
In 2003 the Buccleuch version was stolen from Drumlanrig Castle, the Dumfriesshire home of the Duke of Buccleuch and Queensberry. While the thieves climbed out of the window they assured two passing tourists that they were the police and this was a practice theft! The painting was recovered again in 2007. This little panel is similar to one described in a letter dated 14 April 1501 from Fra Pietro da Novellara, mentioned previously, head of the Carmelite order in Florence, to Isabella d’Este, who was an art collector. The picture to which he alluded that Leonardo was working on was specifically stated to be a little picture.
In fact Fra Pietro mentioned that the workbasket featured in Leonardo's original had Jesus with one foot on it and this is not evident under recent scientific examination nor when highlighted in any pentimenti which adds credence that neither of the present examples are the original. The Madonna is also described as ‘seated as if she would disentangle the yarn from the spindles on the Yarnwinder’ and this is obviously not evident in any known extant examples yet there is a prepared spindle of spun yarn in the Edinburgh version. However if one looks very closely in the Lansdowne version there are very fine crimson threads and these threads are portrayed as thin red strands. What looks to be of the same fine brush in the same colour is no accident as there appears to be writing on the vertical face of the rock. Unlike the purposeful threads that lie on the horizontal rock there are what appears to be these same crimson strands clinging to a vertical rock face.
Figure 44c Showing the word 'Avalonis' written with jumbled letters in true Leonardo code, just as a random generated spam blocker twists the alphabet to ensure human rather than robotic recognition on our computers.
It is not even certain whether this particular painting referred to in the letter was ever actually delivered to Robertet at all, or if perhaps he received the version with the garden or landscape scene now in a collection in New York. This could well be ‘ the small picture by his hand that has recently arrived here’ (in Blois) recorded in correspondence from the Florentine Ambassador to the French court. Some experts believe that Salai owned one of our two Yarnwinder versions as upon his death it was necessary to divide his estate between his two sisters and a painting mentioned in a list compiled by a notaire as ’Madonna with child’ was probably the ‘Madonna Litta’ said to have been painted around 1910.
Figure 44e Madonna Litta
The similarities found in the underdrawings of the Lansdowne and Buccluech versions both have a group of people that is also portrayed in the Edinburgh version. This tends to indicate that the Edinburgh version which is plainly not by Leonardo is copying a group attentive on a baby that existed in an original by Leonardo. The reason for thinking this is that Leonardo was in the process of replicating this group feature in the two extant known leonardo’s which were destined to be replicas that were being painted in tandem in his workshop before he left for Avalon. Both have the arch structure also in the underdrawing that has been painted over. The features of the finger and the group of people lead one to conclude that these follow a prototype pattern. The Lansdowne and the Buccleuch were destined to resemble this format as production replicas before a change of mind.
Figure44f Showing the Arch feature and the group of people in the infrared reflectogram to the left of the Buccleuch version where also Leonardo had also attempted the arched bridge. All were painted over to leave a remarkable resemblance of the cliffs at Bantham.
Figure 44g Showing the reflectogram image of the arch in the Lansdowne version under a portico structure.
Background design features were painted over after the trip with a new intent, but the bridge in the Buccleuch version also seen in the under drawing was also painted over. It would seem that the Buccleuch was (after the change of mind) originally to portray the island and the bridge in one painting before Leonardo decided to split the backgrounds. This is evident as the group feature and the Arch feature found in the Reflectogram of both the Lansdowne and the Buccleuch versions were completely ignored, but the bridge in the Buccleuch version (which also got painted over), could not have worked with the group of people. This must have been a trial design after the visit to Avalon, so is evident as an initial attempt to convey the Avalonian features in one Painting. Our two Avalon Yarnwinders are of a later date than that which they were originally destined to replicate. One must conclude they were already works in progress as copies (or partial replicas) of his original, as the Edinburgh version has features that were mentioned to exist in the original which that artist (the painter of the Edinburgh version) must have seen.
Figure 45 Showing the perspective of the Buccleuch version of the Island of Avalon on the left of the painting.
Figure 45a by swinging the camera without moving position one gets the perspective on the left handside of the painting.
The Buccleuch version depicts Burgh Island as if in a compressed Bigbury Bay, with obvious artistic licence and change in depth perspective. However the Landsdowne version’s portrayal is painted from a perspective from the top of the local village church tower in Aveton Gifford and gives a background Serpentine river running out to sea. Although this is a strange background for Leonardo, it is no coincidence that the river is depicted flowing toward the ‘mountains of God’,considering Leonardo and Melzi knew who lay in the Island at the head of the river. The bridge, which was built at the top of the tidal and navigable extent of that river where the village is situated, may have been visible from the church tower, which was about a third higher then, than it is now. It is now shorter, after it was bombed in the Second World War.
Alongside the river runs the tidal road as portrayed in the Lansdowne version, where, since 1000 BC, tin had been transported from high up on Ugborough and Harford moors, on the southern edge of Dartmoor and was then carried by cart along this road to the ancient emporium Isle of Ictis.
Figure 46 Showing the view of the river Avon with the crenulations of the shortened church tower in the foreground; the Joseph Ley line runs over the hill in the background of the photo along the river to Burgh Island.
In the Royal collection at Windsor there is a brilliant red chalk drawing of the Madonna's head, portrayed in the Yarnwinder pictures. This was part of the study of the original of these two paintings probably executed many years before. It is one of the most comprehensive examples of a previous study, except more famously his study of horses for the ‘Battle of Anghiari’ composition. Apart from the Virgin and Child, which is central to both Yarnwinder pictures, the backgrounds in both vary drastically. But is it merely coincidence that the Virgin's hand in all four paintings is arrestingly held back as if waiting for the right time. The Landsdowne version is very brilliant blue in colour with what seems to be a winding river of life leading to the ‘mountains of God’, while the Buccleuch version is dark in the foreground with the green Island of Avalon situated just off the tidal causeway described originally by Pytheas. In fact it is strange given these four paintings connections because it is as if they were paired up. The Lansdowne blue Yarnwinder and the blue London version of the Virgin and the rocks, while the other pair are green.
The rock formation that the Madonna and child are seated on in both Yarnwinder paintings, are clearly seen as geologically incongruous against, the rocks shown in the background, as seen on the beach at Bigbury. This depiction adds to the supposition that the rock, on which the Madonna sits, is a duplicated study for both versions and was designed for the original version. We know that Leonardo was a geologist and the rocks are plainly a mismatch and such an incongruity he would not normally portray.
Leonardo made studies of many children who appear in his paintings. They are all nude and under two years old and mostly depicted as Cherubic. The Landsdowne child holds a Yarnwinder one degree from vertical, while the Buccleuch version is 2° from vertical. A rotation of 2° from the base of the Yarnwinder in the Buccleuch version would have the child Jesus pointing directly at the island of Avalon. As we know that Camden had remarked on the St. Michael chapel being present in his day we can only assume that Leonardo considered it was too recognisable to reproduce. It is noteworthy here that many other painters from the Renaissance and Baroque periods, use straight-line staffs that, having undergone a rotation, point out certain poignant features in the subtext of the painting and the Yarnwinder stem poigniantly replicates the Ley line with slight rotation.
The spindles are affixed to the Yarnwinder stem at differing angles in both versions. If one was to draw a line parallel to the top edge of each spindle in the Lansdowne version. They meet at a point creating an angle of 26.5°.
Figure 47a Showing an angle of 26.5°, the angle created between the spindles on the Lansdowne version.
This is the same as the angle between the Lyonesse line shown in figure 23 and the Ley line that runs between St. Michael’s Mount, Marazion, through St. Michael’s Brent Knoll to St. Michael’s church at Harnhill, which defines the centre of the circle inside the pyramid.
In the Buccleuch version however, drawing the same two lines parallel to the top of each spindle creates an angle of 21.5°. This again is the angle created from the baseline of the pyramid (Lyonesse line) where the St. Michael Ley line cuts it.
Figure 47b Showing the angle of 21.5° created by the spindles of the Buccleuch version of the Yarnwinder, the same angle as between the St. Michael’s Ley line and the Lyonesse line as shown in figure 23.
Did Leonardo know the basic geometry of the Templar design or is this all coincidence? It does seem strange that the two islands which the baseline of the pyramid run through, form the Lyonesse line which both have St. Michael churches on them. From this line we have marker churches dedicated to St. Michael from which we form Ley lines that create two angles that matches the only two remaining Yarnwinder pictures by which Leonardo said he would show us something. Then we have two lines running through two points from these two St. Michael islands, both points named on the lost pyramid at Glastonbury as seen in figure 23. The fact that they then converge on a St. Michael church that defines a center point on which, if a radius is drawn to that same base line; it then creates the circumference of a circle that is tangential to all three sides of the pyramid. This would seem to be by design and not chance and yet Leonardo is also giving us the angle from the base of our pyramid to the St.Michael Ley line.
Figure 47c Showing another early version of the Yarnwinder La Vierge au fuseau (Virgin with the Yarnwinder) which gives 34 degrees between the spindles, the exact angle between the Joseph line and the Lyonesse line.i.e the line Melkin sent us to find that leads up from Montacute through to Avebury.
All this business with the angles is probably just co-incidence but the reccurence of similarities to our investigation so far involving this Island seem to keep popping up.
The main composition of our two Yarnwinder’s, art critics have established is definitely Leonardo's work, but the background landscapes, not being typical in any of Leonardo's other compositions, have been ascribed to another hand, most probably, as we have proposed previously, that of Melzi. Melzi was born in Milan, about 1490 and died in 1568. History relates little about his character except that he was a friend of Leonardo, while Vasari states that he was ‘a Milanese nobleman, an exceedingly handsome young man’.
Scientific examination has revealed landscape features and figures beneath the paint layers of the Lansdowne and Buccleuch versions that are no longer visible in the finished product which indicates that these particular panels were destined to portray another painting. The chance of having two yarnwinder paintings thought by experts to be by the brush of Leonardo that both have 'arch' underdrawings seem to indicate they were being prepared in tandem. After all you would not make the same experimental underdrawings in both paintings and then completely paint over them if they were done at different times. The fact that these two yarnwinders then with similar underdrawings then merge to point out the Island of Avalon is a freaky co-incidence (if it is one). It looks as if, after Leonardo’s and Melzi’s voyage the two paintings (partially started) were used instead to portray for posterity Joseph’s and Jesus’ whereabouts, (especially when merged). This tends to confirm the proposition that Leonardo, having made previous studies of the Madonna and child for Robertet, painted both of those himself on these newly appointed panels (that were already going to portray similar backgrounds as a copy of an original) and left Melzi to depict the backgrounds that together point to Avalon. Leonardo knew after his studies of the transference of subliminal information that one day these paintings would unlock his secret.
In June 2005, infra-red reflectogram imaging revealed on the London Version of the Virgin and the rocks a previous design beneath the visible one. This is believed to portray a woman kneeling, possibly holding a child with one hand with the other hand outstretched. Some researchers believe that the artist's original intention was to paint an adoration of the infant Jesus. But it becomes increasingly obvious that there was some urgency just to portray what they had seen and were probably using panels from half started projects. After all why commence a painting for Robertet or the Confraternity with a used panel if one was contracted so far in advance and ones intentions were clear.
In the Buccleuch version, Leonardo shows the island that they had both viewed from the perspective of Bantham, incorporating also a perspective from Bigbury on Sea at low tide with artistic licence showing the tide hiding the causeway. After all there cannot be many Islands with this profile so close to the mainland which are in a painting by a famous artist and in which he intends to show something. It becomes even more of a coincidence that the clue of a Yarnwinder in his rebus then reveals an island in a painting by that name and this same island has been sought by various people throughout history. But not only this, its compliment sister painting anchors its geographical location when viewed as a merged picture, using the central feature to both to align the two paintings.
Melzi was attested to be an accomplished miniature painter and some works have been accredited to him, but none definitively. Leonardo may have started the central feature of the composition earlier and determined at a later date to include the geographical variations after his voyage to the British coast.
In the Royal collection at Windsor, Leonardo wrote that he began the two Madonna pictures in 1478, but these would have been preparatory studies most probably for the intended two originals. Leonardo having carried out these preliminary preparatory studies, would have facilitated both the Landsdowne and the Buccleuch versions, to be finished much later in France.
Figure47d Showing the view down the Avon river as it appears in the Lansdowne version of the Yarnwinder with the tidal road on the right following the river toward Ictis.
Infrared reflectology or reflectograms show similar features found in both versions allowing one to see the substrates of the painting. The Landsdowne version shows a building structure that once stood on the left of the painting with an additional arch within an arched doorway with a group of three people in front of the structure. The side view of part of a donkey can be seen to the right of the upper part of the Yarnwinder. The fingers around the Yarnwinder have been moved, as have Jesus’s arms; the left leg was once closer to a kneeling position and the right leg was originally more outstretched.
The Yarnwinder was originally positioned with the upper spindle turned more toward the viewer while the lower strut was once much further up the winder. Did Leonardo toy with the idea of revealing the ‘Joseph line’ which would have been a greater angle from the Lyonesse line?
There were also spindles already wound with twine on the rock which were painted over and not included in the final product. He left the entire shaft of the Yarnwinder exposed in his final two versions, the cross metaphor remained prominent so that the uninitiated would remark on the Madonna's domesticity and her inability to change his course towards crucifixion. The real intention for such a strange choice of icon has never been made clear, except when viewed as an instrument able to perpetuate information of an already crucified Jesus and to indicate where his remains are.
There has been considerable speculation as to how Leonardo’s notebook material arrived in Britain. How, did ‘providence’ or ‘Fortune’ ensure that a huge guilt lettered book (bound and covered in Milan in the sixteen hundreds), would end up in the same country in which Leonardo, by his thumbnail sketches, indicated that he would show the whereabouts, through his Yarnwinder paintings, the location of the most important holy relic in Europe.
Even today the Royal library at Windsor Castle is as much in the dark as the rest of us as to the provenance of what might be considered Britain's greatest art treasure. We find the first reference to Leonardo's manuscript in England in 1690. How is it, (considering all his handbooks and remaining art pieces were left with Meltzi), that they finally end up in the Royal collection across the channel in England.
Meltzi, on his return to Italy, after the death of Leonardo, married, and fathered a son, Orazio. During this time Meltzi was responsible for selling a few works of Leonardo's. But when Meltzi passed on, he left everything to his son Orazio. Orazio also would have been responsible for selling some of the master’s works to interested and persistent parties. When Orazio died on his estate in Vaprio d'Adda, his heirs sold the remaining collection of Leonardo's works.
On the book cover which once contained these drawings, written in guilt letters in Italian, is the title“Drawings by Leonardo da Vinci restored by Pompeo Leoni”. It seems that most people are somewhat at a loss as to how they got from Pompeo into a chest at Windsor to be re-found in the 18th century. The pages found in the chest were from Pompeo’s book, the book rumoured to have had its contents cut out after its arrival in Britain.
In the Ambrosiana museum in Italy,is an engraving in marble stating that in the 17th century, Count Arconati, preserved for Italy ‘The Codex Ambrosiano’ by paying more than an English king had bid. Not being successful on the first attempt, it would seem Charles I, went hunting to purchase another set of drawings. Melzi had tried to organize all of Leonardo’s notebooks and drawings into some semblance of order, presumably putting anatomical drawings together and inventions together, but no-one is quite sure what criteria were used.
Orazio would have sold some of these loose leaves to the Italian sculptor Pompeo Leoni who then bound them into a leather volume. Probably through Orazio’s ignorance Pompeo could have picked out the choicest of the drawings. Pompeo probably, would not have understood the complexity of Leonardo's attempted rebuses, and would have considered them facile, even juvenile compared with his other studies. The Windsor collection is notably one of the finest and it may well be that Pompeo was able to pick the works he liked but it actually seems unlikely, compared with the other material, that he would choose the page of rebuses. Why would he have included these in the same bound volume as some of his greatest drawings?
We know that Leonardo was worried about the fate of his drawings but we shall probably never know whether specific instruction was given privately to Melzi, concerning certain drawings before Leonardo died. Why did Leonardo attempt his Yarnwinder rebus backwards, making its deciphering more complicated and potentially rendering his riddle unintelligible to posterity? Why and for what other reason could one possibly imagine that Leonardo da Vinci would attempt such an articulation, but the wish to convey a sense? This was not a random phrase he was toying with. As we shall see some of the other rebuses that he experimented with could be applied in certain circumstances, but this message was highly specific in that, he was going to show us a facade and it was going to be through his Yarnwinder paintings.
However, ‘Lady Fortune’ did shine upon Leonardo, his rebus being preserved in the very country he was directing us to in both Yarnwinder pictures, exposing a location which he wanted to show. The contents in this ancient bank vault holding the greatest treasures on earth, relics from the Temple of Jerusalem retrieved by the Templars, possibly even the Ark of the Covenant and certainly the mass of Templar treasure. The Templar treasure not only consisting of gold and jewels, but a body of knowledge passed down through the generations until the fourteen hundreds.