Leonardo Da Vinci
Italian High Renaissance Painter and Inventor, 1452-1519
Florentine Renaissance man, genius, artist in all media, architect, military engineer. Possibly the most brilliantly creative man in European history, he advertised himself, first of all, as a military engineer. In a famous letter dated about 1481 to Ludovico Sforza, of which a copy survives in the Codice Atlantico in Milan, Leonardo asks for employment in that capacity. He had plans for bridges, very light and strong, and plans for destroying those of the enemy. He knew how to cut off water to besieged fortifications, and how to construct bridges, mantlets, scaling ladders, and other instruments. He designed cannon, very convenient and easy of transport, designed to fire small stones, almost in the manner of hail??grape- or case-shot (see ammunition, artillery). He offered cannon of very beautiful and useful shapes, quite different from those in common use and, where it is not possible to employ cannon ?? catapults, mangonels and trabocchi and other engines of wonderful efficacy not in general use. And he said he made armoured cars, safe and unassailable, which will enter the serried ranks of the enemy with their artillery ?? and behind them the infantry will be able to follow quite unharmed, and without any opposition. He also offered to design ships which can resist the fire of all the heaviest cannon, and powder and smoke.
The large number of surviving drawings and notes on military art show that Leonardo claims were not without foundation, although most date from after the Sforza letter. Most of the drawings, including giant crossbows (see bows), appear to be improvements on existing machines rather than new inventions. One exception is the drawing of a tank dating from 1485-8 now in the British Museum??a flattened cone, propelled from inside by crankshafts, firing guns. Another design in the British Museum, for a machine with scythes revolving in the horizontal plane, dismembering bodies as it goes, is gruesomely fanciful.
Most of the other drawings are in the Codice Atlantico in Milan but some are in the Royal Libraries at Windsor and Turin, in Venice, or the Louvre and the École des Beaux Arts in Paris. Two ingenious machines for continuously firing arrows, machine-gun style, powered by a treadmill are shown in the Codice Atlantico. A number of other sketches of bridges, water pumps, and canals could be for military or civil purposes: dual use technology.
Leonardo lived at a time when the first artillery fortifications were appearing and the Codice Atlantico contains sketches of ingenious fortifications combining bastions, round towers, and truncated cones. Models constructed from the drawings and photographed in Calvi works reveal forts which would have looked strikingly modern in the 19th century, and might even feature in science fiction films today. On 18 August 1502 Cesare Borgia appointed Leonardo as his Military Engineer General, although no known building by Leonardo exists.
Leonardo was also fascinated by flight. Thirteen pages with drawings for man-powered aeroplanes survive and there is one design for a helicoidal helicopter. Leonardo later realized the inadequacy of the power a man could generate and turned his attention to aerofoils. Had his enormous abilities been concentrated on one thing, he might have invented the modern glider. Related Paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci :. | La Gioconda (The Mona Lisa) | The Baptism of Christ | Studies for a Nativity | Last Supper | Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist |
Related Artists:Mortimer Menpes
British Painter, 1855-1939
was a war artist and engraver, author, printmaker and illustrator. Menpes was born at Port Adelaide on 22 February 1855, the second son of property developer James Menpes, who with his wife, Ann, had settled in Australia in 1839. Educated at a private school, he attended classes at the Adelaide school of design, but his formal art training began at the South Kensington School of Art in 1878, after his family had moved back to England in 1875. Edward Poynter was a fellow student at the school. Menpes first exhibited at a Royal Academy exhibition in 1880. Over the following 20 years 35 of his paintings and etchings appeared at the Academy. He set off on a sketching tour of Brittany in 1880 and thereby met James McNeill Whistler, becoming his pupil and at one stage sharing a flat with him at Cheyne Walk on the Embankment in London. Here he was taught etching by Whistler, whose influence, together with that of Japanese design, is evident in his later work. His 1887 trip to Japan led to his first one-man exhibition at Dowdeswell's Gallery (1878-1912) in London. Menpes bought a property at 25 Cadogan Gardens in Sloane Square in 1888 and decorated it in the Japanese style. Whistler and Menpes quarreled in 1888 over the interior design of the house, which Whistler felt was a brazen copying of his own ideas. The house was sold in 1900, and Menpes retired to Kent. In 1900, after the outbreak of the Boer War, Menpes was sent to South Africa as a war artist for the weekly Black and White. With the war's end in 1902 he travelled widely, visiting Burma, Egypt, France, India, Italy, Japan, Kashmir, Mexico, Morocco, and Spain and producing illustrated books of those countries. His book on the Delhi Darbar of illustrated Curzon's grand spectacle of 1903. He married Rosa Mary Grosse in London in 1875. She too, was from Australia and died 23 August 1936. They produced a son, Mortimer James (b. 1879) and two daughters, Rose Maud Goodwin and Dorothy Whistler. Dorothy, Whistler's godchild, married a Mr. Flower and died in Minehead in July 1973 aged 89.Bartolomeo Altomonte
Bartolomeo Altomonte, also known as Bartholomäus Hohenberg (24 February 1694 - 11 November 1783), was an Austrian baroque painter who specialized in large scale frescoes. He was the son of Martino Altomonte, also a painter.Francois-Auguste Biard
(June 30, 1799 - June 20, 1882) was a French genre painter.
Born at Lyon, he traveled around the world, sketching on the way. He was particularly successful in rendering burlesque groups.
His painting, Scenes on the Coast of Africa, depicted on the right, was the inspiration behind Isaac Julien's short film The Attendant (1993). Biard was a known abolitionist against the Atlantic slave trade.
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This article incorporates text from the public domain 1907 edition of The Nuttall Encyclopædia.