Leonardo DA Vinci (1452-1519), Florentine artist, one of the great masters of high Renaissance, celebrated as a painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, and scientist. His profound love of knowledge and research was the keynote of both his scientific and artistic endeavors. His innovations in the field of painting influenced the course of Italian art for more than a century after his death, and his scientific studies, particularly in the fields of anatomy, optics, and hydraulics. He anticipated many of the developments of modern science.
Leonardo was born in the small town of Vinci, in Tuscany, near Florence. He was the son of a wealthy Florentine notary and a peasant woman. In the mid- 1460s the family settled in Florence, where Leonardo was given the best education that Italy could offered. He rapidly advanced socially and intellectually. About 1466 he was the apprentice of Andrea del Verrocchio, the leading Florentine painter and sculptor of his day. In Verrocchio’s workshop Leonardo was introduced to painting and sculpture in marble and bronze. In 1472 he was entered in the painters guild of Florence, and in 1476 he was still considered Verrocchios assistant. In 1478 Leonardo became an independent master. His first commission, to paint an altarpiece for the chapel of the plazzo vecchio, the Florentine town hall, was never executed.
The period of Italian art in which Leonardo DA Vinci lived is called high Renaissance. In the course of the fifteenth century a long chain of early Renaissance artists, mainly of Florentine decent, had concentrated on a visual as well as theoretical conquest of nature. Their work formed the basis for a great idealistic style, which began to emerge from about 1490 onwards and was nearing its end at the time of Raphaels death in 1520. It was given fullest expression during the decade 1500 to 1510, and the names of Leonardo, Michelangelou, Raphael, Bramante, Giorgone and Titian, round which legions of minor stars of considerable brilliance revolve, indicate its climax. Modern interpreters have excentially analyzed the truly classical qualities of this style which combine, like Greek art of the fifth and fourth centuries BC, a spiritual and formal dignity, harmony and equipoise never before or after equaled in the history of post-classical art. It is easier to describe this phenomenon than to explained it. But while older writers regarded it mainly and too simply as a revival of the pagan art of antiquity, more recent studies have begun to throw light on the complexities of the style by investigating the intentions of its creators.
In this essay I am going to focus on some aspects of Leonardos life in order to analyze the things that took him to invent and become one of the most famous artist in history.
This was the period in history known as the Renaissance, when after hundreds of superstitions and slavery; finally appear the renovations of the study of the sciences. Europe had abandoned the dark ages and the feudal system was left behind. New schools were opened and the people were lefting the countryside in favor to the cities. For these changes was why the beautiful Florence City was full of artists and merchandisers.
The Renaissance penetrated Verrochios work shop, were the painting and the sculpture were going hand by hand with the orfebry, the confection of delicated mechanical objects and musical instruments, and were all ready existent works were repaired. The elemental engineer was the basic part of an artist work. As an student of the work shop, Leonardo acquire this magnificent abilities with the paint art and the sculpture, familiarizaising with a wide range of tools like lifting, transporting and digging. Later on Leonardo would use this knowledge like a starting point for his numerous ideas and inventions.
When he went to Milan that in that time was a city-state situated at the north of Florence, was being threatened by their enemies and Leonardo wanted to put in practice all his fantastic designs in benefit of the city. In a letter send to Francisco Sforza, Milan governor, Leonardo offered him his abilities to construct canons, catapults, war ships, digging tunnels under the enemy lines, grave drainages and methods for climbing castle brick walls. As well as for defending Milan Leonardo also wanted to make that city a pretty city such as Florence.
It was the time in which he was living in that took him to invent all this fantastic devices to give the society problems a solution.
Leonardo was always busy in making plan sketching for military inventions, such as; missiles, bombs, tanks and fortresses. He didn’t had any opportunity to finish the mayor parts of his ideas, but he was a big precursor in his time period. The tank, for example wasn’t use until the First World War, almost 450 years after Leonardo had designed his armored vehicle.
When Leonardo died, he left more than 5000 pages of notes and drawings. He writed his notes in a kind of inverted letter or secret maybe because he was protecting from the church because in that time, the Renaissance was a period of full study, and the church still had a lot of power. Most of the things Leonardo writed were against the church.
All this manuscripts reveal a man ahead of his time in every branch of science then known.
He always tried to develop marvelous inventions to give the society technical progress and a more complete control over nature.
All his interest in a wide range of scientific and technical problems, the exceptional quality of the sketches he drew to solve the society problems in that time. He achieved all this by constant ignorance about what scientists and engineers accomplish before and during his lifetime. This ignorance help leonardos bright intelligence think in things that were very sophisticated in that time, but if we take a closer look into this inventions and relate them with the machines we have today we would find out that they are the same because they are design and constructed parting from the same basic structure Leonardo designed 500 years ago.
Leonardo had a lot of interest in a lot of science branches in order to give a full explanation of how the human body, animals, botany and engineering works and their properties. He achieved all this by the precise and perfect observation of the nature that surrounded him. This observation can be found out in Leonardos paintings that shows a full knowledge of arquitecture engineering. The paintings for Leonardo were an artistic and scientific exercise.
Another thing that interested a lot to Leonardo was the capability to fly. His notebook about the bird’s flight, is a full study about bats and birds.
Leonardo dedicated a long time trying to invent a way in which the humans could fly like birds. All his designs failed because they had undulated wings and not rigid ones that characterized the modern airplane, and also because they lacked some modern motive force, but his drawings show that Leonardo had thinked the right way, and if he had just put a little more effort maybe he would be able to put someone in the sky.
In conclusion we can say that the Renaissance was a period in which men only started to find out and re-find out the world that surrounded them. There were artists, musicians, scientifics, arquitecs, mathematicians, engineers, inventors and philosophers, but only Leonardo DA Vinci was all of them in one person.
This period was the full ideology that took Leonardo to invent, because in that moment everybody was thinking in developing things which give a hand to men over nature.
Also we can say that maybe Leonardo was a clairvoyant that view things centuries ahead of his time, that formed an accurate picture of what the twentieth century city would look like and anticipated such things as textile manufacturing, the harnessing of waterways and steam, and modern warfare complete with machine guns, assault tanks, submarines, and flying machines. All this turned Leonardo into the most astonishing precursor and most prolific inventor of all time.