Renowned Renaissance man, Leonardo da Vinci is best known as an artist. Amongst his most famous paintsings are the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, which only account for two of the fifteen surviving paintings. The number of works under da Vinci's name may not seem like much until one realizes that he used his time to do a great number of other things, from designing weapons and buildings to studying anatomy. His life was a great achievement and filled with curiosity and wonder only answered with exploration and discovery.
Full name Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci, he was born in Vinci, Italy as the illegitimate son of Ser Piero and Catarina who never married each other and separately had a combined number of 17 other children besides the artist. Leonardo da Vinci was apprenticed at the age of 15 to the artist Andrea del Verrochio in Florence. He showed great talent and was apparently so much better as a painter than his master that Verrochio was said to have never painted again after being out-done by da Vinci.
From such a small beginning, not many would have guessed the greatness that lay inside Leonardo da Vinci's mind and the amount of talent that was released at such a young age.
While other styles interest me more than the realism of da Vinci's work, he still remains one of my favorite artists simply because of his diversity in work areas. He was not just an artist, a way in which I see myself, granted not as grand or as many subjects.
One subject in which he spent a lot of time on was anatomy. He dissected cadavers and would study them, recording and drawing his observations and understandings of what he saw. He sketched bones, muscles, and even went into a great amount of detail in many sketches of festuses of dead pregnant women, the first of its kind. He was forced to stop dissecting cadavers while in Rome by rule of the Pope in the early 1500's.
Another area in which da Vinci immersed himself in was that of mechanics and architecture. He sketched designs of innovative machines, things way beyond his time period. The inventions featured in his many famous journals were flying machines, steam cannons, machine guns, and instruments. While only sketches, they show that Leonardo da Vinci was truly a genius and a man ahead of his time. What he was able to fathom wouldn't be close to being created until long after his death.
I like this particular study because it shows the softness of his portraits right next to a very clean and accurate study of a building; two very different things both done beautifully.
Leonardo da Vinci died in Cloux, France at the age of 67.
- Leonardo da Vince, The Marvelous Works of Nature and Man. By Martin Kemp. Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1981
- Leonardo's Universe: The Renaissance World of Leonardo da Vinci. By Bulent Atalay and Keith Wamsley. Washington, D.C. : National Geographic, c2008
- Renaissance Man. Museum of Science. Web. 6 Oct., 2011.