Old Masters Academy

Leonardo da Vinci – live and work




I would like to discuss live and work of Leonardo da Vinci because, in my opinion, he was a person who changed public image of the artists, to put art on the top of human’s abilities and show the truth about the world with a men as a part of it, forever.

1452 – 1564, Vinci / Birth and formative years

Born in Tuscan hill town of Vinci. First years of his live Leonardo spent in natural scenery of Arno valley, among trees with animals in neighbourhood. Surrounding like this connected young men with great sensitivity, put the greatest impact on the future and work of the Genius, who first of all loved the nature and tried to understand rules of live and death.

1464 – 1483, Florence / Verrocchio’s workshops and receiving independent

Artistic upbringing of Leonardo begun when he was 12 years old and put his first steps in the main workshop of Milan named Verrocchio’s shop. It was privilege for anybody to be in place like this. Great talent of Leonardo gave him a chance to assist master Verrocchio in many of his works. The first masterpieces of young Leonardo was contribution with work on ‘Baptism of Christ’, especially angels. Many historians think that the next contributed painting was ‘Annunciation’, painted in oil in technique used relatively infrequently to compare with tempera. His first own works were ‘Ginevra de’ Benci’ (1474) and ‘The Adoration of the Magi’ (1481). As foundation Leonardo’s style lie ‘light and shadow’ which distinguished his works from other artists. Except painting he learned sculpture in wood and stone, metalwork as a part of cast in bronzes, silver and gold, how to make musical, navigational and surgical instruments. Results of his sculptures education were probably contribution with ‘Lady with a Bunch of Flowers’ and ‘Angel’ of Andrea del Verrocchio’. Despite of sculpture abilities, Leonardo to believe that painter have ten consideration: light, shade, colour, body, shape, position, distance, nearness, motion and rest, but sculptor had only five: body, shape, position, motion and rest. Last Leonardo’s work of this period and the most tragic at once was unfinished picture ‘St. Jerome’.

1483 – 1499, Milan / Sforza Court

With appropriate experience, independent and famous Leonardo moved to Milan. It was the time where Milan was the most powerful town in Italy and contemporary duke of town, Lodovico Sforza, had an ambition to opposed French king Charles VIII to stop his ambitious from Milan.

In spite of profession of painter Leonardo was there to help Lodovico with his military planes.

Fist time, we identify him not only as a painter but also as an engineers.

Leonardo’s list of designs of war machines includes catapults, tanks, crossbows and others.

One of firsts paintings of that times was portrait of probably his friend, musician, Atalante Miglioratti, with whom Leonardo travelled to Milan; another were ‘The Virgin of the Rocks’, ‘Lady with an Ermine’ and ‘The Last Supper’. Belonging to private commissions of Sforza’s family portrait of Beatrice d’Este, contemporary wife of Lodovico Sforza, can be found ‘Beatrice d’Este’ and study for unexcited porter of her older sister Isabelle d’Este. Most of these pictures were painted in oil with totally different artistic manner characteristic only for da Vinci. Other areas of interest of Leonardo reviled in those times were anatomy, botanic, math, invention. In belongs of his studies we could find particular drawings of human bodies, faces with anatomical details and lots of deep annalists about light rays, proportions and human’s motion and higher mathematics. First of all ‘Vitruvian Man’, known and using today as ‘Canon of Proportions’. Despite of non-existing buildings could be made by Leonardo there is a lots of sketches, studies and designs of buildings, architectural details, studies of ‘ideal cities’ and even maps made by him.

1499 – 1506, second Florentine period (includes visits to Mantua and Venice, Rome, Romagna)

After fall from power Lodovico Sforza Leonardo left Milan and as a accredited engineer and inventor, Leonardo entered his service as the ‘Chief Military Engineer’ for Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI. Frequent voyages with his patron Cesare gave him lots of opportunities to make maps of Italy. The main art works, the most excellent and the most famous today at once were ‘Madonna of the Yarnwinder’ and ‘Mona Lisa’. Each of work of Leonardo has typical for him philosophical background. Because his motto was: ‘A good painter has two main objects to paint, man and the intention of his soul’, all of Leonardo’s works were preceded by lots of minutes sketches and studies as a consequence last appearance has psychological character connected with anatomical details. His novelty painting, completely different from traditional techniques for producing pictures, it was almost in three dimensional form. Other work from this period was mural painting ‘Battle of Anghiari’, which we know as Rubens’ copy based on Leonardo’s sketches.

1506 – 1513, second Milanese period (twice in Florence)

In 1506 as a 54 years old gifted artist he returned to Milan which was under French jurisdiction as a consequence of Italian Wars (1494 – 1559). In this period da Vinci had continued and developed his studies on animals and human anatomy, the natural world including botanic, landscapes, acoustic and optic. The later paintings from this period were ‘The Virgin and St Anne’ and ‘St John the Baptist’. From other painting’s and sculptures’ studies we known ‘Leda and the swan’ and ‘Sketches for an equestrian monument’.

1513 – 1516, Rome, Florence and North Italy

Since 1613, three years he was working for Giuliano de’Medici in Rome, in Vatican. Frustrated by illness, most of the time he spent to continue his study about nature, especially motion of water and machines based on water energy, human anatomy, landscapes and urbanity. The last known portrait of Leonardo is probably his own.

1516 – 1519, France / King Francoise I, dies in Amboise

His last commission was for Francois I, king of France as a consequence of that Leonardo moved to Clos Luce, manor house situated near kings residence. Lastly as legend declare Leonardo died in 1519 held in king’s arms.

Leonardo da Vinci lived nearly 500 years ago, but his work, his thinking, his relationship with surrounding natural world, his endless abilities and undisputed GENIUS presented him not only as quintessence of renaissance but endless repository knowledge and inspirations, open minded person, in full men of modern age.

Categorized: Art History , News

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