Hi all,

Does anyone know of a good resource on the symbolism of pointing in renaissance painting, such as Leonardo's Madonna of the Rocks?  

Several of Leonardo's paintings include a figure pointing to something and I'm curious if there is any rhyme or reason to it, in the sense of conventions or standard meanings.  I've found a few references about pointing to heaven or earth (up/down) or to a person (level) but not much.  

I'm curious just in case there is a subtle use of this in the Mona Lisa, where there could be a slight direction of the viewer to the left sleeve as geometry/topology, symbol of the technological present, wovenness of phenomena, allegory for accrued knowledge, self-representation in costume, textile technology, and the like.  It may even be directing us to some kind of "key" or "theme" around which to center the painting conceptually, one which is of course unmistakably hidden and understated.  Some of Leonardo's other paintings include figures pointing to intersections (for example the Madonna of the Yarnwinder and St. John the Baptist) and this could perhaps be applied to the sleeve/hand intersection in ML.

On a different topic, some of you may have seen or heard about the recent NYT piece by the previous mayor of Minneapolis, Betsy Hodges.  She points out how long-term economic inequality, actively supported by white liberals, is a primary cause of ongoing segregation and police brutality like the killing of George Floyd.  It's a confusing piece in some ways but does point out systemic injustices that have been ongoing since the first Europeans arrived on the continent, injustices which have been festering even more badly since the 80's when social programs and reforms were largely abandoned (with bipartisan support) in favor of growth-oriented policies across US society.  Until true equality is achieved we may be cursed to repeat the cycle of oppression, injustice, and violence which is endemic wherever shared humanity is not accorded sufficient value.


All best wishes,