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Leonardo Da Vinci is a genius! His imagination was amazing and the output he produced—from the arts, engineering, flight, architecture, and machines among others. After Aristotle, Da Vinci is considered as the “Renaissance Man” with a well-rounded personality and who can deal with multiple subjects and competencies simultaneously. He is a polymath, an inventor, a mathematician, an anatomist, a painter, an engineer, a scientist and even a writer (Priwer & Philips 25). The list of his achievements is very very long! Since his time, nobody else was able to duplicate his successes or at the very least, approximate the number of his expertise.
This essay looks at the life of Leonardo Da Vinci and will explore several areas of his expertise. In so doing, the lessons that can be drawn fro his life will be highlighted. Moreover, the main themes and issues in his life as a genius will be explored. Such an undertaking will greatly enhance the understanding of this author about the life of Da Vinci and his major contributions, not only to the Renaissance of Italy, but to all of humanity.
Da Vinci is a genius that helped shape the arts, science, and literature of the Western world. His genius is evident up to this time and the world still looks up to him as a genius and as a literary with important contributions to the world.
Da Vinci’s Life
Da Vinci’s life seems like a television soap opera. He was the illegitimate son of Messer Piero to a peasant girl. He was born at Anchiano in the town of Vinci, which is within the the region of Florence. His full name was Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci. Little is known of the childhood of Da Vinci but he became the apprentice of the Italian painter Verrochio at an early age. Among his peers who became the apprentice of Verrochio were Boticelli, Perugino, and di Credi. Some of the works created by Verrochio may actually have been done by some of his students, including Leonardo. The painting: The Baptism of Christ is said to have been the work of the master and the apprentice Leonardo (Bortolon 35).
Through his training under Verrochio, Leonardo learned a number of trades and skills in chemistry, drafting, leather working, carpentry, as well as in drawing, sculpting and modeling among others. This period of apprenticeship is also important in the development of Da Vinci’s genius (Bortolon 40).
In his old, Da Vinci went to Rome at Belvedere at the Vatican. At this time, both Michaelangelo and Raphael were staying in Rome. He was granted a house by King Francois I of France after working for the peace talks between Vatican and France. This is where Da Vinci spent his last days until he died (Bortolon 114).
Painting and the Arts
Of the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, perhaps the two most popular ones are the Last Supper and Mona Lisa. The Last Supper even became the motif of the novel written by Dan Brown. In addition to these two paintings, there are also a number of excellent paintings that he created. Some of them, however, are being disputed as there are some accounts that belie such claim.
The techniques that Da Vinci used in his paintings showed his careful studies in anatomy, lighting, and in the juxtaposition of elements in a painting. Based on the paintings that will be surveyed in this section, it can be seen that Da Vinci had the perfectionism of an artist and the care and concern he puts into his every work. He is an innovator at heart. He takes what is known and what is being practiced in the field of arts during his time and makes them his own. The expressions used by the humans in his paintings are remarkable and his techniques spearheaded the directions of modern Western Art.
Leonardo’s Contributions to Science
Leonardo did not attend a university yet his keen observation and the way that he recorded his observations helped him gain insight in the workings of nature and of the human body. Most of the time, it was only his eyes that he had and his hand that clasped a pencil or a pen. Although the mainstream scientists and mathematicians ignored most of his scientific investigations, he wrote his observations in his journals on a daily basis. His journals contained his observations as well as the blueprints of some of his plans for future paintings and scientific endeavors. Surprisingly, he did not write in the usual script of his time. Rather, they were written backwards in mirror script (Richter 15).
This backward mirror script that Da Vinci used has been the subject of many speculations about him and his supposed connections with secret organizations. If his journals were investigated further, however, the reason behind this secrecy on the part of Da Vinci is his reluctance to share his ideas and his writings with other people who might steal these ideas away. In the first place, his journals were very rich and contained many information. If his journals fell into the hands of his contemporaries, they might be stolen and developed away from his tutelage (Richter 20).
Because it is difficult nowadays to truly understand the intention of Da Vinci for using this backward mirror script, apart from the conjecture that it was for the sake of secrecy and unwillingness to share with his contemporaries his findings, creative writers and even biographers have come up with theories in explaining this away. His apparent involvement with secret societies has been explored in literature but little evidence can be put forward to support this hypothesis.
In addition to this, little is known in his childhood and youth and so there are authors who tried to recreate these crucial stages in the life of Da Vinci in order to promote their own view of his life, although, their views are but thinly supported by facts and historical accounts. Although such views are enjoyable to read and raise curious possibilities, the lack of historically accurate accounts render such views as simply historical fictions built around the mysterious life of the legend that is Leonardo Da Vinci.
In an effort to improve his grasp of the human anatomy, he studied the proportion of the human body and along the process; he dissected a total of thirty corpses. This made him a physiologist as well as an artist. He is the first one to draw the fetus as it looks like in the womb. His descriptions of internal organs are superb and have been verified by modern medical science. Even at this period, he managed to complete the first robot design in history, although it was only rediscovered in the 1950s.
Da Vinci also dabbled with mechanics and designed a lot of mechanical projects such as a flying machine, a machine that can be used for grinding lenses, machines that make use of hydraulics, and even war machines. Whether these designs were to be implemented and built is now relegated into the realm of the unknowable.
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Suffice it to say that Leonardo Da Vinci’s ideas and designs were very much in advance of his own time and the Western society during that period were not yet prepared to accept everything that Da Vinci had to offer. If he lived at this modern times, the reaches of his talents would have known no bounds.
Leonardo Da Vinci has had a great number of paintings, inventions, and books to his credit. These paintings, designs and contributions to science support the idea that he is indeed a genius. The mystery surrounding his early life has fostered speculations in a lot of authors and has captured the imagination of the reading public.
The way that he kept his journals secret through backward mirror scripts is remarkable. However, the true intentions that he may have had for doing this, apart from the interests of secrecy and intellectual pride, is now the area of speculators and fictionists.
Whether in the area of the arts, of the sciences and any other kinds of pursuit, Da Vinci has shown his talents and skills in almost every field of endeavors in the world. He also contributed extensively in the fields of science, invention, and mechanical design. Even if some mysteries may never be solved as to the personality of Leonardo Da Vinci, his contributions to humanity cannot be discounted. If additional information about his life will turn up, then this will surely clear up some of the confusions.
Bortolon, Liana. The Life and Times of Leonardo. London: Paul Hamlyn, 1967.
Hart, Frederich A. A History of Italian Renaissance Art. New York: Thomes and Hudson, 1970.
Marani, P. C. Leonardo Da Vinci: The Complete Paintings. New York: Henry Abrams, 2003.
Priwer, Shana & Cynthia Phillips. The Everything Da Vinci Book: Explore the Life and Times of the Ultimate Renaissance Man. New York: Adams Media, 2006.
Richter, Jean Paul. (1970). The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci. New York: Dover, 1970.
Wasserman, Jack. Leonardo Da Vinci. New York: Abrams, 1975.