Visione Artistica: Leonardo Da Vinci, the universal man of the Renaissance

Leonardo da Vinci was the key part of the High Renaissance with a variety of talents ranging from art to science. The artistic journey him develops in nearly 50 years in scenarios of historical and cultural background quite different: the Florence of Lorenzo the Magnificent, the Milan’s court Sforz. Although a wide road, few of his works are “totally complete”.

Illegitimate son of a respected notary of Vinci, the Tuscan city that led to his name,he had a difficult childhood because of his bastard status.

In the first half of the decade of 1470 he worked in the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio, one of the most successful artists of Florence at the time. Verrocchio was at the peak of his career, filled with orders from the rich Medici family. Verrocchio and Leonardo developed a fertile professional relationship with so much  collaboration  that there are many works in the workshop where it is not possible to define authorship, whether of Verrocchio and Leonardo or both.

A striking aspect of Leonardo’s early work is the great attention that the artist dedicated to the natural world and his extraordinary ability to represent it. The work “Baptism of Christ” (above) is one of the only works of Verrocchio was unanimously recognized that has  the participation of Leonardo. The moisture laden and fog that surrounds the two angels in the lower left corner are clearly authored by Leonardo.
In “Annunciation” Leonardo begins to assert his modernity against the Florentine scene of the time by acclimating the scene in an open space and puts it into a real plan, fully human.
In 1482, he moved to Milan for unknown reasons, it is believed that he saw the Milanese court of Ludovico Sforza Duke as a good opportunity to divide among his many talents. A remarkable work of this period is the “Virgin of the Rocks”. The Milanese cultural environment, particularly live and especially versed in scientific and mathematical interest resulted more appropriate to the pragmatic character of Leonardo.
In Milan, he produced paintings, sculptures, fortifications and gave advice on architectural designs and engineering. It was there that he met Bramante, expressive architect of Urbino. He followed a path opposed to Bramante in the representation of space: Da Vinci recreates the space with constant change and continuity while Bramante establishes the laws of the intellect and the principles of perspective. 

Ludovico Sforza ordered “The Last Supper” for the complex of Santa Maria delle Grazie in the refectory of the convent. The fresco has deteriorated rapidly due to an infiltration in the wall, there have been eight documented attempts to restore it in its original form, but none successfully. Leonardo creates a very dramatic scene and with a composition full of hidden meanings that are studied until today, he explores the human psyche as no retraction of this scene had succeeded.
The story unfolds in a fresco of the following narrative cores each occupied by a triad of apostles with meticulously calculated gaps. The result is a growing emotional impact that converges to the figure of Christ in the center.

He created several fascinating designs, he gave a new meaning to the pen, it became a quick way to write and draw whatever came into his mind, became a vehicle of imagination. The sketches are essential in the creative process of him. Much of what appears in his notebook sketch seems to be ahead of his time as the design of a supposed helicopter.

Da Vinci liked to draw everything around him, being beautiful or ugly, which went against to the ideal of beauty “concinnittas” of the Renaissance. The design was an object of scientific study for him.
The long-awaited moment, you who are reading this post should have been thinking that I carelessly forgot this work (laughs). The icon of the art world, one of the most famous and controversial figures in the history of art, an incarnation of an ideal of feminine beauty, the Mona Lisa or Gioconda with total sure is a synthesis of all the Leonardo work.
Leonardo used to see this little painting (it measures only 77x53cm) with great zeal, his production had a very long gestation, Da Vinci took 10 years to consider it finished. Her mysterious gaze and expression are alive until now, she is smiling or not? He does a successive overlapping layers of oil to create such a disturbing visual effect.
No one knows for sure who is the lady portrayed, some say even that may be a self-portrait or a male model. The most accepted possibility that this is Lisa Gherardini, wife of the silk merchant Francesco del Giocondo. The painting was never delivered to his client, staying with Leonardo until his death in 1519.
It concentrates all elements of his work: the brilliant organization of the field of composition, light naturalistic characters painted with the technique of sfumato (which gives a live moisture to the work, she appears to  be breathing), the thin and firm brushstrokes that delimits volume and also gives the photorealistic definition   to the painting, natural scenery with a dynamic background that lives in perpetual transformation and the chiaroscuro to give form and life to composition.
“In a word, the light of Leonardo was divine.” Giovanni Paolo Lomazzo.
“He never settled down his own talents, unique and incomparable. Breaking each casual and spontaneous impulse,he  wanted that each trait was considered and reconsidered all over again. Of the researches about  proportions of the extraordinary and contradictory figures of monsters more hybrids, everything should result in naturality and rationality.” W. Goethe
“From the Gioconda emanates only a enigma: the soul is present, but inaccessible.” C. De Tolnay


“For him, the painter is the eye of the world, which dominates all things visible (…) Leonardo receives impressions of things as new, which needs to seek new technical means of expression (…) It was relentless and insatiable when observing the learn. Continuously he proposed new questions, but gave the impression of he just wanted to absorb himself ” Heinrich Wölfflin

In 1516, Louis XII, a great admirer of Leonardo, invited him and his inseparable  pupil Francesco Melzi to go to France. There he spent the last years of his life, his death was in May 1519, in the castle of Amboise in Cloux. During this period he did not paint anything, dedicating  himself to  extremely personal and intimate reflexions. Leonardo had contact with Rafael during this period, influencing the late chiaroscuro in Rafael’s work.

Everything that Da Vinci produced seems to have a facility, a clarity of imagination, a nature of knowledge that very few artists have achieved in history.

Leonardo’s curiosity to the world around him encourages us to see reality in a new way. Leonardo was a lover of life and his work is alive, it has a soul, what fascinates anyone even in a crowd of tourists at the Louvre in front of the Monalisa, all looking for this small figure that replies with her eyes filled with questions of all sort.

I think it was clear my love for the work of this artist, one of my favorite Renaissance man along with Michelangelo and Botticelli, hope you enjoyed and have been thrilled with the work of this universal man that was Leonardo Da Vinci!

“Knowing is not enough: we need to apply the knowledge. Wishing is not enough: we need to accomplish”
  Leonado Da Vinci


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