Leonardo Da Vinci As Artist Scientist Essay

1007 words - 4 pages

While some of Leonardo da Vinci’s ingenious work might be attributed to his gifted, relentless mind, his success in every branch he ventured in could be credited to a scholarly curiosity in the laws of nature and men. His paintings and inventions were not the embodiment of the High Renaissance in the magnificence of the product, because, as we know, much of it was left unfinished, but on the methodical approach through which it was achieved. Observation, led by fascination of natural phenomenon such as the refraction of light in the atmosphere, the relativity of size in the visual plane, or the webbing of veins and arteries, not only assured the mastery of his art, but served as an important landmark in the intellectual revival of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Leonardo da Vinci, possibly the Renaissance’s most favored son, was indeed a universal man, from warfare inventions to art masterworks, he represents the epitome of the individualistic quest for enrichment in artistic, civil and academic endeavors typical of post medieval art.
To begin with, Leonardo’s greatest show of genius was the success with which he imitated nature. Not only did he go above and beyond the technics of his time, but he challenged ethical notions in his pursuit to recreate God’s work. As he noted on his Notebooks “he wished to work miracles” (Leonardo: Selection from the Notebooks, 1). His dissections of human bodies, carried in the name of anatomical research, were more than frowned upon at the time, but gave a more thorough understanding of the complex mechanisms behind our seemingly effortless movements. Furthermore, he applied mathematical concepts in the composition of his pieces to provide them with an unprecedented sense of depth. With the use of one-point perspective in pieces like The Last Supper, he engaged the visual effect of having Christ as the converging point where the horizon line passes through, emphasizing the symbolism of centralizing the creator as “light of the world” (Leonardo da Vinci as Artist-Scientist 3). Of course, he took it a step further. As the scientist he was, he employed the observation of the physical world to try to understand the laws governing the Earth. With the purpose of duplicating the effect on a painting, atmospheric perspective was born, and with it, legendary works like La Gioconda. The brighter, crisper foreground transitions into the background with cooler and less defined shapes, adding to the believability of the setting, and the mystery of the painting. Overall, the embrace of revivalist notions are clearly evident in Leonardo’s work. The newly focused relationship of the individual in relation to the universe, and the appreciation of nature and the joys of life are key to his success. Above all, he is such a well-rounded man in history, due to his ability to apply art to science, and science to art.
Sigmund Freud once said: "Leonardo da Vinci was like a man who awoke too early in the darkness, while the...

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