In anticipation of Aracaladanza’s Vuelos we are taking a quick look at the life and works of Leonardo da Vinci – the inspiration behind the piece.
Born on April 15, 1452, in Vinci, Italy, Leonardo da Vinci had a curious mind and a keen intellect. He studied the laws of science and nature, which greatly informed his work as a painter, sculptor, architect, inventor, military engineer and draftsman. His ideas and body of work—which includes “The Last Supper” and “Mona Lisa”—have influenced countless artists and made da Vinci a leading light of the Italian Renaissance.
“A good painter has two chief objects to paint—man and the intention of his soul,” da Vinci wrote. “The former is easy, the latter hard, for it must be expressed by gestures and the movement of the limbs.” To more accurately depict those gestures and movements, da Vinci began to seriously study anatomy and dissect human and animal bodies during the 1480s. In addition to his anatomical investigations, da Vinci studied botany, geology, zoology, hydraulics, aeronautics and physics. He sketched his observations on loose sheets of papers and pads that he tucked inside his belt. He placed the papers in notebooks and arranged them around four broad themes—painting, architecture, mechanics and human anatomy. He filled dozens of notebooks with finely drawn illustrations and scientific observations. His ideas were mainly theoretical explanations, laid out in exacting detail, but they were rarely experimental.
Art and science intersected perfectly in his sketch of Vitruvian Man, which depicted a male figure in two superimposed positions with his arms and legs apart inside both a square and a circle. A man ahead of his time, da Vinci appeared to prophesize the future with his sketches of machines resembling a bicycle, helicopter and a flying machine based on the physiology of a bat.
In 1503 da Vinci start working on what would become his most well known painting—and arguably the most famous painting in the world—the Mona Lisa. The privately commissioned work is characterized by the enigmatic smile of the woman in the half-portrait.
One of da Vinci’s last commissioned works was a mechanical lion that could walk and open its chest to reveal a bouquet of lilies. He continued work on his scientific studies until his death at the age of 67 on May 2, 1519.
Source: Biography.com Editors, Leonardo da Vinci Biography. Biography.com, Available from: http://www.biography.com/people/leonardo-da-vinci-40396 [Accessed 15 April 2016].