Leonardo Da Vinci
Leonardo Da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci is one of the greatest men that history has produced. His contributions in the areas of art, inventing, and science are still among the most important that a single man has put forth, definitely making his a life worth knowing. Leonardo, born on April 15, 1452, is known as being a master painter, sculptor, architect, musician, engineer, and scientist. He was born an illegitimate child to Catherina, a peasant girl. His father was Ser Piero da Vinci, a public notary for the city of Florence, Italy. For the first four years of his life he lived with his mother in the small village of Vinci, directly outside of the great center of the Renaissance, Florence. Catherina was a poor woman, with possible artistic talent, the genetic basis of Leonardo’s talents. Upon the realization of Leonardo’s potential, his father took the boy to live with him and his wife in Florence. This was the start of Leonardo’s education and his quest for knowledge.
Leonardo da Vinci, as an artist is probably most known for his pieces The Last Supper and Mona Lisa. The Last Supper is a beautiful painting of the moment when Jesus announces that someone at the table will betray him. “The apostles are arranged in four groups. The central figure of Christ is highlighted by apostles who either look at him or gestures toward him. Christ is haloed by the central window space behind him, with the lines of the room all converging toward that point. The painting has great emotional power even though it is mathematically one of the most perfect painting ever executed.” (Culture and Values pg. 18) There are several theories about the Mona Lisa, although all uncertain. It has been said that Mona Lisa is actually a self-portrait of Leonardo. X-rays of the painting and close comparison with drawings of Leonardo suggest that this may actually be true. Maybe that is why Leonardo one said, “The most praiseworthy form of painting is the one that most resembles what it imitates.” The notebooks of Leonardo contain sketches and plans for inventions that came into existence almost five-hundred years after the Renaissance. The notebooks contain plans and drawings for what we recognize today as the first working propeller, a submarine, a helicopter, a tank, parachutes, the cannon, perpetual motion machines, and the rope ladder. He had one of humanity’s most fertile minds. Throughout his life he had brilliant and far-out ideas. He was also very fascinated with water. Because there was no electricity yet, he knew that water was the ultimate source for power. He studied all forms of water including, liquid, steam, and ice. In fact, once he started on the subject of water he couldn’t really stop, forever envisioning things like floating snowshoes to walk on water, breathing devices and webbed gloves to explore underwater, and even a life preserver to remain afloat.
Leonardo da Vinci was also a brilliant scientist. He was quite intrigued by the human body. His knowledge of anatomy was unsurpassed. He came very close to discovering the circulation of blood. There are perfectly executed drawings of the human body, from the proportions of the full figure to dissections of the most minute detail. One cannot exaggerate the unpleasantness of Leonardo’s anatomy studies. He, in his quest for knowledge, held countless creepy vigils with the local corpses, and because of their tendency to decay forced Leonardo to work as fast as possible. Leonardo once said, “living through the night hours in the company of the quartered and flayed corpses fearful to behold.”
It has been said that, “Leonardo da Vinci is the genius of the Renaissance, not so much for what he left in the way of art, as for the things that he dreamed of doing and the problems he observed and set himself to solve.” Leonardo was a man that was ahead of his time. He lived in a world of his own and he was fascinated and in awe of the world around him. Leonardo da Vinci was not only an awesome artist, but a very intelligent scientist and even an inventor, and that is what makes Leonardo da Vinci, “the genius of the Renaissance.”