Leonardo Da Vinci
Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) was an Italian 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".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.According to art historian Helen Gardner, the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent and "his mind and personality seem to us superhuman, the man himself mysterious and remote".Marco Rosci points out, however, that while there is much speculation about Leonardo, his vision of the world is essentially logical rather than mysterious, and that the empirical methods he employed were unusual for his time.
Born the illegitimate son of a notary, Piero da Vinci, and a peasant woman, Caterina, at Vinci in the region of Florence, Leonardo was educated in the studio of the renowned Florentine painter, Verrocchio. Much of his earlier working life was spent in the service of Ludovico il Moro in Milan. He later worked in Rome, Bologna and Venice and spent his last years in France, at the home awarded him by Francis I.
Leonardo was and is renowned primarily as a painter. Among his works, the Mona Lisa is most famous and most parodied portrait and The Last Supper the most reproduced religious painting of all time, with their fame approached only by Michelangelo's Creation of Adam.Leonardo's drawing of the Vitruvian Man is also regarded as a cultural icon, being reproduced on everything from the euro to text books to t-shirts. Perhaps fifteen of his paintings survive, the small number due to his constant, and frequently disastrous, experimentation with new techniques, and his chronic procrastination. 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 for his technological ingenuity. He conceptualised a helicopter, a tank, concentrated solar power, a calculator, 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,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.He made important discoveries in anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and hydrodynamics, but he did not publish his findings and they had little to no influence on later science. .
Renaissance humanism saw no mutually exclusive polarities between the sciences and the arts, and Leonardo's studies in science and engineering are as impressive and innovative as his artistic work. These studies were recorded in notebooks comprising some 13,000 pages of notes and drawings, which fuse art and natural philosophy (the forerunner of modern science), made and maintained daily throughout Leonardo's life and travels, as he made continual observations of the world around him.
The journals are mostly written in mirror-image cursive. The reason may have been more a practical expediency than for reasons of secrecy as is often suggested. Since Leonardo wrote with his left hand, it is probable that it was easier for him to write from right to left. A page from Leonardo's journal showing his study of a foetus in the womb (c. 1510) Royal Library, Windsor Castle
His notes and drawings display an enormous range of interests and preoccupations, some as mundane as lists of groceries and people who owed him money and some as intriguing as designs for wings and shoes for walking on water. There are compositions for paintings, studies of details and drapery, studies of faces and emotions, of animals, babies, dissections, plant studies, rock formations, whirl pools, war machines, helicopters and architecture.
These notebooks—originally loose papers of different types and sizes, distributed by friends after his death—have found their way into major collections such as the Royal Library at Windsor Castle, the Louvre, the Biblioteca Nacional de España, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan which holds the twelve-volume Codex Atlanticus, and British Library in London which has put a selection from its notebook BL Arundel MS 263 online. The Codex Leicester is the only major scientific work of Leonardo's in private hands. It is owned by Bill Gates, and is displayed once a year in different cities around the world.
Leonardo's journals appear to have been intended for publication because many of the sheets have a form and order that would facilitate this. In many cases a single topic, for example, the heart or the human foetus, is covered in detail in both words and pictures, on a single sheet.Why they were not published within Leonardo's lifetime is unknown.