Leonardo Da Vinci
The world famous artist was born on 15th April 1452. He died on 2nd May 1519.
A renaissance period Italian genius with unique powers possessed keen observation, invention intuition and experimenting qualities. His curiosity made him a multi dimensional persona. He was a painter, scientist, artist, architect, mathematician, geologist, writer, engineer, inventor, sculptor, musician and botanist. He was always interested in learning everything that came his way. The studies of Leonardo were more logical but were too advanced and different, in fact looked unusual for his time to be applied and understood. Art historian Gardner states that about him that the scope and depth of his intuition were unprecedented and his mind and personality seem to us SUPERHUMAN. This great man was born in Florence. His full name at birth was Leonardo De ser Piero Da Vinci, meaning son of Sir Piero from Vinci.
Training at Verrocchio’s Workshop,(1466-1476). Andrea di Cione commonly known as Verrocchio was the owner of the workshop in Florence. In 1446 when he was just 14 years old, got admission in this workshop, which was not usually allowed. Domencio, Perugino, Botticelli and Lorenzo di Credi were the other painters working there. Leonardo learned drafting, chemistry, metallurgy, plaster casting, feather working, medicine, carpentry, drawing painting, sculpting and modeling. Here he mastered his skill of painting and helped his master Verrocchio on his “Baptism of Christ” work which was highly appreciated. In 1472, at the age of twenty he was already a qualified master of artists and medicine. Later on his father set up his own workshop. His most well known works were in Pen and Ink medium.
Leonardo as an Outstanding Painter
He experimented new techniques in oil paintings like different compositions such as appliqué positions and made use of light and shadings in detail. The humanist approach of Donatallo’s David can be observed in Leonardo’s paintings also, specifically “John the Baptist”. Early Madonnas painted by De Vinci are The Madonna with a carnation and The Benois Madonna. These were made according to the trend following frescoes. But in the Benios Madonna he experimented with composition by placing Virgin at oblique angle.
This theme was repeated in The Virgin and Child with St. Anne. Leonardo was a unique painter and still he holds the same top position because his art works are the most reproduced, copied, published and recognized universally. Framed reproductions, printed T-shirts and knitted carpets with images of Madonna are common every where. “the Laughing One”, painted in 1500 is reproduced in every possible medium.
Famous Paintings of Leonardo
Adoration of the Magi
Virgin of the rocks
The Last Supper (1498)
Drawings of Leonardo
As a prolific draftsman, Leonardo used to keep his journals full of small and large pencil sketches. The above three paintings were sketched initially on his journals as pencil drawings. He added details in them later when he painted them. He was really an organized artist. Landscape of the Arno Valley (1473) is reported to be one of his earliest drawings.
Famous Drawings of Leonardo
“Vitruvian Man” (1485), a study of human body proportions.
“Head of an Angel”.
“Star of Bethlehem”, a botanical study majorly.
“The Virgin and The Child with St. Anne”.
“St. John the Baptist” (National Art Gallery, London).
“Leonardo Smoke” or sfumato is a shadowy quality. He used this technique at the corners of the mouth and eyes in Mono Lisa, Thus, giving it a divine natural smile. Again he used it for The Virgin and The Child with St. Anne.
Drapery is extensively used by Leonardo. He is known to add details, falls, light and shades in drapery. He often depicted Sala, his pupil in fancy dresses for deep study of drapery detailing.
Journals of Leonardo
This genius man used to note each and every detail of his studies even during traveling. His journals show the diversity of his interests in arts and sciences. It seems he maintained his notes on daily basis. These are written in mirror-image style for secrecy according to some historians. But he was a left hand writer. It might be convenient for him to write from right to left. His journal pages show:
- His study shows human fetus in the womb (1510).
- Shoes for walking on water.
- Composition of paintings.
- Study of faces and emotions.
Study of animals, babies, plan studies, rock formations, whirl pools, war machines, helicopter and various details on architecture are sketched in the journal pages. The Codex Leicester is the one most scientific work of him and now owned by Bill Gates.
Leonardo facilitates its reading and understanding by pictures, sketches and words. A single topic is found only on one sheet with all its pictorial details.
Leonardo as a scientist
Leonardo was unlike the traditional scientists of his time. His focus was more on observation rather than theory and experimentation. He was a great observer and used to write down each and every aspect in detail. He was a genuine fore runner for later scientists like Galileo and Newton and a keen mathematician whose contributions in technology and architecture will remain alive for centuries. His original concepts like helicopter, calculator, a tank and solar power were not discovered or even thought of at his time but in modern world these are as common as salt. The world is full of many men and women who are masters of and out standing in one or two subjects but a genius like Leonardo leaves the human race far behind him in every respect. A mind so curious to learn and invent and is highly skilful when it comes to art. His fame in his life time was equal to the King of France.
It is impossible to cover all areas of his natural talents and skills in this limited space. He was in fact a miracle of nature, created with utmost intelligence. The world will see very few of his kind.