The Da Vinci Notebooks at sacred-texts.com
The methods of aerial (567--570).We see quite plainly that all the images of visible objects that lie before us, whether large or small, reach our sense by the minute aperture of the eye; and if, through so small a passage the image can pass of the vast extent of sky and earth, the face of a man--being by comparison with such large images almost nothing by reason of the distance which diminishes it,--fills up so little of the eye that it is indistinguishable. Having, also, to be transmitted from the surface to the sense through a dark medium, that is to say the crystalline lens which looks dark, this image, not being strong in colour becomes affected by this darkness on its passage, and on reaching the sense it appears dark; no other reason can in any way be assigned. If the point in the eye is black, it is because it is full of a transparent humour as clear as air and acts like a perforation in a board; on looking into it it appears dark and the objects seen through the bright air and a dark one become confused in this darkness.
The perspective of diminution shows us that the farther away an object is the smaller it looks. If you look at a man at a distance
from you of an arrow's flight, and hold the eye of a small needle close to your own eye, you can see through it several men whose images are transmitted to the eye and will all be comprised within the size of the needle's eye; hence, if the man who is at the distance of an arrow's flight can send his whole image to your eye, occupying only a small space in the needle's eye how can you [expect] in so small a figure to distinguish or see the nose or mouth or any detail of his person? and, not seeing these you cannot recognise the man, since these features, which he does not show, are what give men different aspects.