Art and Architecture Pick ..... Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da VinciSelf-Portrait, 1512-1515 Red Chalk, 33x21.6 cm Royal Library, Turin Image Source: Wikipedia
Leonardo Da Vinci is one of my favorite masters of the arts as well as one of the character's in my favorite book - Leonardo's Swans by Karen Essex. 

Leonardo was the embodiment of the Renaissance ideal of the universal man, and the first artist to attain complete mastery of all branches of arts. Not only was he a painter, sculptur, architect but also a scholar in natural sciences, medicine and philosophy.

Leonardo was the only artist who united form and colour at the highest level while focusing on carrying the realistic tendencies of the 15th century to an extreme degree. He gave the geometry of two-dimensional space and the stereometry of three- dimensional space an importance unknown to the previous generation. Last Super in the refectory( a dinning room in monasteries) of Santa Maria della Grazie in Milan overwhelms the viewer with its apparent closeness. However, the different perspectives of real and painted space, the perfection of the smallest details, and the monumental scale of the figures ensure that the viewer remains distances from the composition. In his panel paintings, Leonardo combined these structural features with a revolutionary use of colour and fluid transitions between objects and figures. Space is no longer established primarily through mathematical perspective, but by a lightening of the palette and gradual dissolving of the outlines.

Leonardo Da Vinci Last Supper, 1495 - 1498 Oil tempera on plaster, 460x880 cm Refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan Image Source: Cicsworld 


The other aspects of Leonardo's art were demonstrated in his sketchbooks which features his inventions, observations, experiments, and discoveries. Pages from these sketchbooks include anatomical drawings; studies of geological formations, air currents, and water movements; proposals for architecture and city planning' and a bunch of drawings, sketches and studies related to his paintings and sculptures. Other drawing illustrate his inventiveness with such diverse decives as canal locks; underwater craft; parachutes; helicopters; wing attachments for flying; and tanks, guns, cannons, and other instruments of war.

In his sketchbooks, Leonardo noted various designs for centrally planned churches which not only dominated the architecture of the High Renaissance but also determined the thinking of painters. Since only a small number of major building projects of the period around 1500 were actually executed, our knowledge of High Renaissance architecture is largely based on " background scenery" found in paintings, which we take as direct reflection of contemporary building styles.

S. Maria della Consolazione at Todi is so similar to some of Leonardo's sketches that its master mason, Cola da Caprarola, is believed to have been influenced by them, through the work of Bramante.



Cola da Caprarola and Donato Bramante, S. Maria della Consolazione, Todi,1508 Image Source: LaMiaUmbria

My fav. book is focused around the lives of d'Este sisters ( who are very interesting historical figure that fascinate me), therefore I though it would be fun to mention his work at the Sforza court in Milan.Leonardo's designed costumes and masques for the marriage and entertainment of Ludovico and his wife Beatrice d'Este; he proposed a two- level city with pedestrian and vehicular separation; and when the 1485 plague in Milan killed 5000 people, he suggested building ten satellite towns to reduce the likelihood of following outbreaks. The 1499 attack on Milan by French forced broght down the Sforza family, and Leonardo briefly sought employment as the military engineer to the Cesare Borgia ( and this is where the book end, hehe).

Sketch of Centralized Churches by Da Vinci.

Image Source for the Leonardo's Sketches: Thinks Quest Sourced consulted: my lecture notes; Buildings Across Time by Moffett, Fazio, and Wodehouse; Master Pieces of Western Art by Walther.

I apologize for such a long post, but his genius cannot be explained in few words. 


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