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 :. | Portrait of a Lady at the Court of Milan (san05) | The Baptism of Christ | Study of a child | The Annunciation | Detail of Madonna of the Rocks |
Related Artists:William Rothenstein
English Painter, 1872-1945
English painter, printmaker, teacher and writer. He was the son of a wool merchant and delighted in the grim landscape of his native Yorkshire, which was the subject of some early watercolours. At 16 he left Bradford to attend the Slade School of Art, London (1888-9), where he was a pupil of Alphonse Legros, and the Acad?mie Julian, Paris (1889-93). His talent was recognized as early as 1891, when an exhibition of his work and that of Charles Conder at the Galerie Hadrien Thomas in Paris attracted the attention of many artists including Pissarro and Degas. The latter invited Rothenstein to visit his studio and became a major influence on his development. After an inspiring four years he left Paris for OxfordJohn Wesley Jarvis
(1781 - January 14, 1839), American painter, nephew of Methodist leader John Wesley, was born at South Shields, England, and was taken to the United States at the age of five.
He was one of the earliest American painters to give serious attention to the study of anatomy. He lived at first in Philadelphia, afterwards establishing himself in New York City, where he enjoyed great popularity, though his conviviality and eccentric mode of life affected his work. He visited Baltimore, Charleston, and New Orleans, entertaining much and painting portraits of prominent people, particularly in New Orleans, where General Andrew Jackson was one of his sitters. He had for assistants at different times both Thomas Sully and Henry Inman. He affected singularity in dress and manners, and his mots were the talk of the day. But his work deteriorated, and he died in great poverty in New York City. William Barraud