Leonardo Da Vici Essay

1669 words - 7 pages

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (About this sound pronunciation (help·info)) (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer. Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance Man, a man of "unquenchable curiosity" and "feverishly inventive imagination".[1] He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived.[2] According to art historian Helen Gardner, the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent and "his mind and ...view middle of the document...

[nb 2] Nevertheless, these few works, together with his notebooks, which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and his thoughts on the nature of painting, compose a contribution to later generations of artists only rivalled by that of his contemporary, Michelangelo.

Leonardo is revered[2] for his technological ingenuity. He conceptualised a helicopter, a tank, concentrated solar power, a calculator,[5] the double hull and outlined a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were even feasible during his lifetime,[nb 3] but some of his smaller inventions, such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire, entered the world of manufacturing unheralded.[nb 4] He made important discoveries in anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and hydrodynamics, but he did not publish his findings and they had no direct influence on later science.[6]
Among the works created by Leonardo in the 16th century is the small portrait known as the Mona Lisa or "la Gioconda", the laughing one. In the present era it is arguably the most famous painting in the world. Its fame rests, in particular, on the elusive smile on the woman's face, its mysterious quality brought about perhaps by the fact that the artist has subtly shadowed the corners of the mouth and eyes so that the exact nature of the smile cannot be determined. The shadowy quality for which the work is renowned came to be called "sfumato" or Leonardo's smoke. Vasari, who is generally thought to have known the painting only by repute, said that "the smile was so pleasing that it seemed divine rather than human; and those who saw it were amazed to find that it was as alive as the original".[77][nb 22]

Other characteristics found in this work are the unadorned dress, in which the eyes and hands have no competition from other details, the dramatic landscape background in which the world seems to be in a state of flux, the subdued colouring and the extremely smooth nature of the painterly technique, employing oils, but laid on much like tempera and blended on the surface so that the brushstrokes are indistinguishable.[nb 23] Vasari expressed the opinion that the manner of painting would make even "the most confident master ... despair and lose heart."[80] The perfect state of preservation and the fact that there is no sign of repair or overpainting is extremely rare in a panel painting of this date.[81]

In the Virgin and Child with St. Anne (see below [StAnne]) the composition again picks up the theme of figures in a landscape which Wasserman describes as "breathtakingly beautiful"[82] and harks back to the St Jerome picture with the figure set at an oblique angle. What makes this painting unusual is that there are two obliquely set figures superimposed. Mary is seated on the knee of her mother, St Anne. She leans forward to restrain the Christ Child as he plays roughly with a lamb, the sign of his own impending...

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