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 :. | The Virgin of the Rocks | Madonna and Child with a Pomegranate | Pod of cherry and forest strawberry | The Annunciation | The Annunciation-o |
Related Artists:R. v. Bohnlich
R v Bohnlich (fl.c.1880)
19th Century Paintings and Watercolours
Spanish Baroque Era Painter, 1599-1660
Spanish painter. He was one of the most important European artists of the 17th century, spending his career from 1623 in the service of Philip IV of Spain. His early canvases comprised bodegones and religious paintings, but as a court artist he was largely occupied in executing portraits, while also producing some historical, mythological and further religious works. His painting was deeply affected by the work of Rubens and by Venetian artists, especially Titian, as well as by the experience of two trips (1629-31 and 1649-51) to Italy. Under these joint influences he developed a uniquely personal style characterized by very loose, expressive brushwork. Although he had no immediate followers, he was greatly admired by such later painters as Goya and ManetStefan Luchian
Romanian Painter, 1868-1916
Romanian painter. He studied at the School of Fine Arts in Bucharest, graduating in 1889 and continuing his studies at the Akademie der Bildenden Kenste in Munich and in Paris at the Academie Julian, where he was a student of William-Adolphe Bouguereau. He rejected the rigidity of academic painting early in his career, however. The Last Autumn Race (1892; Bucharest, Mus. A.), one of the few paintings known from this period, clearly illustrates the influence of Manet and Impressionism on his early work. On his return to Romania in 1892 Luchian, unwilling to restrict his work to merely copying the French artists, struggled to create an original style. In 1900 he was left partially paralysed by a spinal disease, but he continued to work, and it is during the next years that he created his most accomplished works. His self-portraits (e.g. 1907; Bucharest, Mus. A.) are clear evidence of his determination to overcome this personal tragedy; far from inspiring pity, these paintings emphasize the depth and the strength of his inner life. It is in landscapes such as Willows at Chiajna (c. 1907; Cluj-Napoca, Mus. A.), however, that his commitment becomes even more apparent, with joyful rhythms created by means of broad brushstrokes and contrasts of bright colours next to delicate tones. Towards the end of his life Luchian became completely immobilized. During this time flowers were his favourite subject (e.g. Safta, the Flower Girl; Bucharest, N. Mus. A.; see also ROMANIA, fig. 9), and they became a metaphorical bridge between the artist and the outside world. The colours are still bright in these last paintings, and the loss of pastel tones makes the contrast more dramatic.