Western art cannot be mentioned without mentioning Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) (Zöllner, Nathan, and Leonardo 12). Leonardo was trained as a sculptor and a painter in Florence and used his knowledge to delve into science. He had an insatiable hunger to identify something new and constantly engaged himself in experimenting, inventing and observing his immediate environment. He used art, particularly drawing to record what he had discovered in the environment. Despite Leonardo not having completed several works of art, the few he left behind are phenomenal. Milan, France and Rome were where he was active the most in his art work and are also the places where he built a name for himself.
Leonardo da Vinci is an inspiration not only to artists but also to scientists. He used paintings to communicate his flow of ideas. He is fondly remembered for studying different gestures and poses of the mother and her infant that acted as a preparation for the famous piece, Virgin of the Rocks. Wherever he observed around him, Leonardo drew, including plant life, human anatomy, the movement of water, animal life and birds flying high in the skies (Priwer and Phillips 58). His skills did not stop at art as he also acted as an engineer by inventing many devices to help in the improvement of efficiency. He had a rich drawing technique, ranging from carefully finished drawings to rapid pen sketches. The pieces he produced also demonstrated a contrast between old age and youth and also his fascination with physiognomy. Importantly, Leonardo da Vinci is the brains behind the most popular portrait in the world, Mona Lisa. The painting is surrounded by an aura of mystery and is obscure in a soft light, creating an atmosphere of enchantment (Kuligowski 23). The portrait only has seamless transitions between dark and light rather than contours or hard lines. However, the most striking characteristic of the portrait is perhaps the half smile of the sitter. She looks at the viewer directly but her head, torso and arms face another direction, passing an arrested sense of movement. Da Vinci also explored the possibility of oil paint on different backgrounds and used the background of most of his paintings to communicate his view about thee world.
Over 500 years after his death, Leonardo da Vinci is still regarded as one of the best mathematicians, inventors, scientists and engineer (Kuligowski 29). He invented the scissors, parachute and also studied anatomy. He is further credited for developing some of the flight designs, many of whci were implemented after his death. He painted, “The Last Supper,” a religious painting that the most reproduced in the whole world. His inventions such as mechanical knights, hydraulic pumps, musical instruments and reversible crank mechanisms were impractical then but later came to be built. Some are yet to see the light of day despite them revolutionary and desirable in the world today. When it comes to art, Da Vinci not only changed small details about painting but also introduced new techniques of painting. He blurred the background and the edges to form a realistic painting instead of the traditional painting of the front and background with similar detail. Da Vinci’s pieces show that artists can communicate to the rest of the world without words. All they need to do is be creative in order to come up with unique pieces.
Kuligowski, Stephanie. Leonardo Da Vinci: Renaissance Artist and Inventor. Huntington Beach, CA: Teacher Created Materials, 2013. Print.
Priwer, Shana, and Cynthia Phillips. Leonardo Da Vinci. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 2011. Print.
Zöllner, Frank, Johannes Nathan, and Leonardo. Leonardo Da Vinci, 1452-1519. Köln: Taschen, 2011. Print.