… drawings, especially of the human body. Hestudied anatomy by dissecting human corpses andthe bodies of animals. Leonardo’s drawings did notonly clarify the appearance of bones, tendons, andother body parts but their function in addition.
These drawings are considered to be the firstaccurate representations of human anatomy.Leonardo is also credited with the first use ofthe cross section, a popular technique fordiagramming the human body. Leonardo wrote, “Thepainter who has acquired a knowledge of the natureof the sinews, muscles, and tendons will knowexactly in the movement of any limb how many andwhich of the sinews are the cause of it, and whichmuscle by its swelling is the cause of thissinew’s contracting” (Wallace 131).
In December,1499, the Sforza family was driven out of Milan byFrench forces and Leonardo was forced to leaveMilan and his unfinished statue of LudovicoSforza’s father, which was destroyed by Frencharchers that used it for target practice.Leonardothen returned to Florence in 1500 (Bookshelf).When Leonardo returned to Florence the citizenswelcomed him with open arms because of the fame heacquired while in Milan.
The work he did therestrongly influenced other artists such as SandroBotticelli and Piero di Cosimo. The work he was toproduce would influence other masters such asMichelangelo and Raphael. In 1502 Leonardo enteredthe service of Cesare Borgia, Duke of Romagna andson and Chief General of Pope Alexander VI. Forthis post he supervised work on the fortress ofthe papal territories in central Italy. In 1503 hewas a member of a commission of artists to decideon the proper location for the David byMichelangelo (Encarta).Towards the end of theyear Leonardo began to design a decoration for theGreat Hall of the Palazzo Vecchio. Leonardo chosethe Battle of Anghiari as the subject of themural, a victory for Florence in a war againstPisa.
He made many drawings and sketches of acavalry battle, with tense soldiers, leapinghorses and clouds of dust. In painting The Battleof Anghiari Leonardo again rejected fresco andtried an experimental technique called encaustic.Once again the experiment was unsuccessful.Leonardo went on a trip and left the paintingunfinished. When he returned he found that thepaint had run and he never finished the painting.The paintings general appearance is known fromLeonardo’s sketches and other artists’ copies ofit (Creighton 45). During the period of time thatLeonardo spent painting the Palazzo Vecchio healso painted several other works, including themost famous portrait ever, the Mona Lisa.
The MonaLisa, also known as La Gioconda, (after thepresumed name of the model’s husband) becamefamous because of the unique expression on Lisadel Gioconda’s face. She appears to have juststarted to or finished smiling. This painting wasone of Leonardo’s favorites and he carried it withhim on all of his subsequent travels (Clark 133).In 1506, Leonardo returned to Milan to finished upsome of his projects that he had to abandon duringhis hasty departure.
He stayed there until 1516when he moved to Cloux, France, where he stayedwith his pupil Melzi. While in Milan he was namedCourt Painter to King Louis XII of France, who wasthen residing in Milan. For the next six years hetraveled from Milan to Florence repeatedly to lookafter his inheritance.In 1514 he traveled to Romeunder the patronage of Pope Leo X. During thistime Leonardo’s energy was focused mainly on hisscientific experiments. He then moved to France toserve King Francis I. It is here in Chateau deCloux that he died on May 2,1519 (Wallace 127).Leonardo constantly reworked his drawings, studiesand mechanical theories.
His observations of themotion of water are amazingly accurate. InLeonardo’s Studies of Water Formation, the flowpatterns observed are swirling around , then belowas it forms a pool.Using modern slow motioncameras’ scientists now study the same effectsthat Leonardo wrote about and observed with hisnaked eye (Encarta). Another study of water andwind is his Apocalyptic Visions. This is acollected study of hurricanes and storms. In thesehighly detailed drawings the pen lines socarefully marked explode into action similar tothe storms themselves. Leonardo’s mathematicaldrawings are also highly skilled.
In a mathformula Leonardo proved the theory of perpetualmotion false but it still intrigued him.Among hisvast notes were small ideas for a perpetual motionmachine. His ideas for completing this taskinvolved an unbalanced wheel that would revolveforever, conserving its energy. However thesemachines were never constructed. Anothermathematical drawing was the Polyhedron. Thisthree dimensional figure represented proportionsto him “not only in numbers and measurements butalso in sounds, weights, positions and inwhatsoever power there may be” (Wallace 59). Thenotebooks of Leonardo contain sketches and plansfor inventions that came into existence almostfive-hundred years after the Renaissance.
Leonardopracticed a technique of writing backwards. It hasbeen postulated that he did this, beingleft-handed, so that he wouldn’t smear the ink byhis left hand running across newly-written words.Moreover, the individual words are spelledbackwards. In order to read the Notebooks one musthold the pages up to a mirror and it is believedby some that Leonardo did this to keep his writingand theories secret. In any event, contained inthe Notebooks are plans and drawings for what werecognize today as the first working propeller, asubmarine, a helicopter, a tank, parachutes, thecannon, perpetual motion machines, and the ropeladder. There are perfectly executed drawings ofthe human body, from the proportions of the fullfigure to dissections in the most minute detail.It was observed, however, that Leonardo’s interestin the human body and his ability to inventmechanical things were actually not as paramountto him as was his fascination and awe of thenatural world (Clark 133). Leonardo lived to be 67years old.
He is not known to have ever married orhad children. In fact, it was said of him that heonly saw women as “reproductive mechanisms” (Clark134). If there is one quality that characterizesthe life of Leonardo da Vinci it would be hiscuriosity for life and the world around him.Curiosity is the force that motivated him toobserve, dissect and document every particle ofmatter that warranted his attention. From babiesin the womb to seashells on the beach, nothingescaped his relentless intellect.
The mind ofLeonardo transcends the period of the Renaissanceand every epoch thereafter. It is universallyacknowledged that his imagination, his powers ofreason, and his sheer energy surpass that of anyperson in history.The study of Leonardo islimited only by the inadequacy of the student.Bibliography:.