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 :. | Last Supper | Portrait of Mona Lisa,La Gioconda (mk05) | The Baptism of Christ | Lady with Emine | Madonna of the Rocks |
Related Artists:John Mundell
painted Punting Down the River in 19th Century
painted A female Saint holding a plate of roses in Pradilla, Francisco
Spanish painter and museum official. He first studied in Saragossa with the stage designer Mariano Pescador (d 1886), and in 1866 moved to Madrid where he began to work with the stage designers and decorators Ferri and Busato. He entered the Escuela Superior de Pintura, Escultura y Grabado and also attended the Academia de Acuarelistas. In 1873 Pradilla and his fellow student Casto Plasencia (1846-90) won history painting scholarships to study at the newly founded Academia Espaola de Bellas Artes in Rome. In 1874 he sent from Rome a copy of Raphael's Dispute over the Holy Sacrament, a work Pradilla completed in collaboration with Alejandro Ferrant (b 1844), another Spanish scholarship holder. During Pradilla's second and third years abroad he travelled through France, visiting the Paris Exposition Universelle of 1875, and Italy, where he was particularly impressed by Venice and the works of Veronese, Titian and Jacopo Tintoretto. Pradilla won a major prize in 1878 at the Exposicien Nacional de Bellas Artes in Madrid; as a result of this success he received the commission for another large picture on a historical theme, the Surrender of Granada (1882; in situ) for the Palacio del Senado (now Pal. de las Cortes) in Madrid. This work shows Pradilla's concern to paint from life in his treatment of the landscape of Granada. He produced other paintings on related subjects, including Mad Queen Joanna Imprisoned at Tordesillas (priv. col., see Pardo Canalis, pl. xviii) and the Sigh of the Moor (Madrid, Rodriguez Bauze priv. col., Pardo Canalis, pl. xvii). Pradilla also painted lively scenes of local life and colour. The years of his stay in Rome, where he was director of the Academia Espa?ola between 1881 and 1883,