“It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.” ― Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo da Vinci was a critical figure in the late Renaissance. Not only has he been titled as one of the greatest artists who ever lived, but he made remarkable contributions to engineering, architecture, science, philosophy, and anatomy during the Renaissance.(DailyHistory) Leonardo also had a spectacular and well-rounded education.
“Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452, ‘at the third hour of the night’ in the Tuscan hill town of Vinci, in the lower valley of the Arno River in the territory of Florence. He was the illegitimate son of Messer Piero Fruosino di Antonio da Vinci, a Florentine notary, and Caterina, a peasant who was thought to have been a slave from the Middle East. Leonardo had no surname in the modern sense, ‘da Vinci’ simply meaning ‘of Vinci’: his full birth name was ‘Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci’, meaning ‘Leonardo, son of (Mes)ser Piero from Vinci.’ Little was known about Leonardo's early life. He spent his first five years in the hamlet of Anchiano, then lived in the household of his father, grandparents, and uncle, Francesco, in the small town of Vinci. His father married a sixteen-year-old girl named Albiera, who loved Leonardo but died young.” (Biography)
Leonardo da Vinci was a critical figure in the late Renaissance. Not only is he regarded as one of the greatest artists who ever lived, but he made remarkable contributions to engineering, architecture, science, philosophy, and anatomy during the Renaissance. While some of his work was done in secret, Leonardo still displayed some art, architecture, and engineering to the public eye. Leonardo was recognized as one who made a unique contribution to the Renaissance. Leonardo rebirthed the idea of learning and a moved to a secular worldview.. He decisively influenced artistic trends in his time and the later Renaissance. His interest in science and experiment inspired many humanists to study the world and nature. While he was also a great inventor; although, his inventions had little impact on his own era.. Leonardo was a remarkable man and a genuine polymath who had extraordinary insights and achievements. The Florentine was able to develop new techniques in painting that revolutionized the art form, and it inspired many of the greatest painters of the Renaissance, such as Raphael. Leonardo had a significant influence on sculpture and architecture in Italy during his lifetime and after. Leonardo was also a scientist and interested in a wide range of subjects. His scientific discoveries, such as those in anatomy, were kept secret, mainly out of fear of the Church. However, his approach to his field of study and his interest in nature inspired many people to adopt an outlook that veered from the teachings of the day. Most of his outlooks and beliefs on his work differed from those during that era, so it captured the eyes of others. However, most of his ideas remained only ideas and were often impractical. Therefore, his inventions made little impact on the Renaissance. (DailyHistory)
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One of Leonardo’s childhood memories was studying the flight of birds and depicted the nature of these animals in almost a poetic tone. (Isaacson 18) It is believed that this was one of the early examples of his knowledge on the topic of analyzing and studying. Da Vinci always drew human sketches that would exemplify his understanding of the human nature of man. He depicted a young and curly-haired pretty boy facing a craggy older man who was to look visibly uglier than the other boy. Leonardo later said that this tactic offered a great contrast to one another and gave the sketch meaning. (Isaacson 133)
Leonardo’s notebooks were where he would explore the human body and study the complex shadows of every movement. “The beauty of a notebook is that it indulges provisional thoughts, half-finished ideas, unpolished sketches, and drafts for treaties not yet refined.” His unfinished work is the perfect example of his jumpy imagination. (Isaacson 108)
The Last Supper is one of Leonardo’s most popular and well thought out paintings.
'The composition of the painting is outlined in depth. His intricate detail shows his care, patience, and pride in this painting. The depth and shadows of the characters give the viewer a powerful connection to what is being observed. The audience feels the emotion of Jesus and His apostles due to their realistic facial expressions.”
“Another lays his hand on the table and is looking. Another with his hands spread open shows the palms… Another… holds a knife in one hand. Another who has turned, holding a knife in his hand, upset with his hand a glass on the table.” “Every element of the composition is involved in the profound transformation. The attitudes and gestures not only represent physical motions but also are the expression of the emotional reactions, each one was individually characterized in the painting.” (Reti 30) Others in the painting are whispering, listening, reacting, or explantioning. Leonardo chose to paint the moment when Jesus Christ said to his disciples, “One of you will betray me.” (Keele 42)
Leonardo painted more artwork that depicted the nature and life of Christ. Da Vinci also painted the Virgin of the Rocks, Christ Himself, a child and a lamb, angels, and the Baptism of Christ. In a renovation of the Virgin of the Rocks, Leonardo enlarged the figures and relationship to the landscape. He eliminated that ambiguous pointing gesture inside the long gaze of the angel, synthesizing the figures of Christ and the virgin in the connection between them. X-rays reveal that an earlier version of the Christ child had an even larger head. Halos were added to the Virgin, Christ, in St John, in the ladder now has his familiar cruciform staff. (Marani 139)
“The figures are slightly drawn back from the foreground toward the rear; the open arms of the Virgin forming a pyramid and the angels finger pointing to St John seem to explore and scan space in various directions; and everything is surrounded by shade and light - a very special light that is used to draw from the shade, with soft gradations, the relief of the forms.' (Reti 28)
Leonardo's intricate detail provided a backstory to the artwork.The shadowing of each body part gave a special meaning to the majestic Christ-like attributes. All these details seemed intended to identify the four sacred figures securely. (Marani 139)
Leonardo also created a breath-taking painting of Jesus’ crucifixion, where he carefully placed Jesus and His apostles. Leonardo put intricate detail in their facial expressions and lifeless bodies. He studied every part of Jesus’ body, all the way to his feet, to give the most accurate depiction of His current state. Da Vinci also made the “Bust of Christ”. The “Bust of Christ” represented the moment when Christ announced that He would be betrayed. It is said to be that Leonardo painted the angel on the far left in the Baptism of Christ painting. Leonardo's painting of the angel provoked amusement and wonder. The figure was placed on a diagonal stance as if to pierce the depths of the foreground space compromised two rigidly frontal dispositions of the figures. It serves to draw the viewer to Christ's attention. (Marani) The baptism of Christ painting shows John the Baptist pouring water over Jesus, while two Angels are kneeling beside the river Jordan watching. (Isaacson 52) In his painting, where a young child is holding onto a lamb, one notices the calmness of the lamb. There is no telling what Leonardo meant behind this painting but most would consider that the lamb represents the Lamb of God and the child represents that all are still hearted and children of God.
Leonardo painted many angels to his life, many with wings and others with halos. The painting of the Annunciation, which portrays the moment when the angel Gabriel surprised the Virgin Mary by telling her she would become a mother of Christ, was essential t in the Renaissance. Leonardo's version depicts the announcement and reaction as a narrative occurring in a Walled Garden of a stately Country Villa as Mary looks up from reading a book. The greatest strength of the picture are Leonardo's depiction of the angel, Gabriel. He has the androgynous beauty that Leonardo was perfecting, and his bird-like were wings growing out of his shoulders was Leonardo's wonderous blend of naturalism and fantasy. Leonardo can convey Gabriel in motion: she is leaning forward as if he has just landed, and the ribbon tied around his sleeve is fluttering back, while the wind from his arrival stirs the grass and flowers beneath him. (Isaacson 57&59)
Leonardo da Vinci was not strictly raised as a Christian. Leonardo's mother was not considered worthy of mention in Antonio's birth notation nor in any other birth or baptism record. Leonardo was born and baptized by the local priest at the Parish Church of Vinci. Leonardo was never formally educated as a kid causing him to be an 'unlettered man.' Leonardo's lack of authority allowed him to develop his wisdom and knowledge from his environmental studies. Leonardo’s absence of authorization led him to use the approach of nature and its use in foreshadowing a scientific method. Although Leonardo was not formally educated, he still had a vast amount of knowledge in which he understood the human body to its fullest. He was smart enough to connect the dots between the human body and God's nature. Leonardo has heard of the Lord during his younger years allowing him to still have the basic principles and truth within him. (Isaacson)
Considering the artwork, the knowledge, and the leadership of Leonardo it is obvious that Leonardo believed in God's word. Although Leonardo was strong-willed and was an independent genius, he showed christ-like understanding then not. His depictions of Jesus in The Last Supper and the angels in almost all of his work displayed realistic stories and emotions that led Leonardo’s company to believe that he not only understood the goodness and sacrifice of Christ but glorified Christ's existence. Da Vinci glorified God's existence when he inspired the people of the Renaissance. Leonardo had Christian based artwork and also has a huge audience, which allowed his admirers to have an insight of Christ. John 16:13 says, “When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come.” John 16:13 relates well because God talks through Leonardo in his power and popularity in society to help guide and inspire his peers. When Leonardo depicted all of the artwork about Christ and the events that happened long ago, he was spreading seeds of righteousness in the minds and hearts of everyone around him. Leonardo's attention to detail and his patience in all of his projects helps anyone who may be struggling to believe in God because they can not see Him. 2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “for we walk by faith, not by sight.” Those who might have been struggling in the belief that God is there because they cannot physically see him now have an image to go with the events in the Bible due to Leonardo's paintings.
“A painter should begin every canvas with a wash of black, because all things in nature are dark except where exposed by the light.” ― Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo da Vinci was a significant influence during the Renaissance because of his artwork, knowledge, and creativity. His ability to paint a picture is not only pleasing to the eye but tells an essential story that is beyond impressive.
- Leonardo Da Vinci Biography | Life, Paintings, Influence on Art, www.leonardoda-vinci.org/biography.html.
- Isaacson, Walter. Leonardo Da Vinci. Simon & Schuster, 2017.
- Keele, Kenneth. Leonardo Da Vinci and the Art of Science. Wayland, 1978.
- “Leonardo Da Vinci.” Biography.com, A&E Networks Television, 28 Aug. 2019, www.biography.com/artist/leonardo-da-vinci.
- Marani, Pietro C., and Lawrence Jenkens. Leonardo Da Vinci: the Complete Paintings. Harry N. Abrams, 2000.
- Metmuseum.org, www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/leon/hd_leon.htm.
- Reti, Ladislao. The Unknown Leonardo. McGraw-Hill Book Company, 1974.
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