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 :. | Horses with horsemen | The Annunciation | Madonna of the Rocks | The Virgin of the Rocks | Madonna and Child with a Pomegranate |
Related Artists:Jose de Ribera
Spanish Painter and Print engraver , 1591-1652
Information concerning the life and personality of Jusepe de Ribera is sparse. He was born the son of a shoemaker in Jetiva, Valencia Province. He appears to have gone to the city of Valencia while still a boy, but nothing is known of his possible artistic training there. As an adolescent, he traveled to Italy and spent time in Lombardy. Next he was in Parma, from which, it is said, he was driven by the contentious jealousy of local artists. He located himself in Rome until an accumulation of debts forced him to flee. Finally he settled in Naples, where in 1616 he married Caterina Azzolino, the daughter of a painter, by whom he had seven children between the years 1627 and 1636. The Academy of St. Luke in Rome elected Ribera to membership in 1625, and 6 years later the Pope conferred upon him the Order of Christ. It is understandably speculated that Ribera revisited Rome for these events. Being sought after in Naples by the Church and the various Spanish viceroys who ruled there in the name of the Spanish monarchy, he dismissed the idea of returning to his homeland. He was quoted as saying that he was honored and well paid in Naples and that Spain was a cruel stepmother to its own children and a compassionate mother to foreigners. Nevertheless, he generally added his nationality when he signed his works. This practice inspired the Italians to nickname him "the Little Spaniard" (Lo Spagnoletto). The last decade of Ribera's life was one of personal struggle. He suffered from failing health, the taunts of other artists that his fame was "extinct," and difficulty in collecting payments due him. Nevertheless, he kept it from being a tragic defeat by continuing to paint until the very year of his death in Naples. Actually, he was the victim of the local politics and finances. Naples was in the throes of a severe economic depression for which the foreign rulers, the patrons of Ribera, were naturally blamed, and the desperate citizenry was rioting in the streets. It is significant that Ribera continued to receive commissions in such a time, even if there was a dearth of payments. Ribera was inventive in subject matter, ranging through visionary spectacles, biblical themes, genre, portraits, mythological subjects, and portraits of ascetics and penitents. Arthur Melville,ARSA,RSW,RWS
Flemish Gothic Era Painter, active ca.1415-1440
South Netherlandish painter. He was one of the artists who came from the South Netherlands to work for the French royal family. On 23 May 1415 he succeeded Jean Malouel as court painter and Valet de Chambre to John the Fearless, Duke of Burgundy, in Dijon, and he may already have been connected with Malouel's workshop. On 5 November 1415 Bellechose was paid for painting four small wooden pillars with angels, which were placed around the high altar of Notre-Dame, Dijon. On 19 May 1416 the duke authorized the purchase of materials for Bellechose to complete two panels, one of the Martyrdom of St Denis and another showing the Death of the Virgin, for the Charterhouse of Champmol. Bellechose also carried out decorative work, including painting banners for the Duke's castle of Talant near Dijon in 1416 and coats of arms for the funeral of John the Fearless in 1419. On 5 April 1420 Bellechose was appointed court painter to Philip the Good, successor to John the Fearless. His first known commissions were again of a decorative nature, including work for the funerals of Margaret of Bavaria, wife of John the Fearless, in 1423 and of Catherine of Burgundy, daughter of an earlier Duke of Burgundy, Philip the Bold, in 1425 and for the marriage of Philip the Good's sister Agnes of Burgundy in 1424. During these years he had eight assistants and two apprentices; travelling artists, including some from German territory, also worked in his shop on a temporary basis. Around this time he married Alixant Lebon, daughter of a Dijon notary. On 21 November 1425 Philip the Good ordered an altarpiece of the Virgin venerated by John the Fearless and Philip the Good, accompanied by SS John the Evangelist and Claude, for the chapel of the castle at Saulx-le-Duc in Burgundy. Bellechose painted three statues for the new entrance gate to the palace in Dijon in 1426. In August 1429 he received an important commission for St Michel, Dijon, to make an altarpiece with Christ and the Twelve Apostles and an antependium showing the Annunciation. Exactly a year later his name appears for the last time in the ducal accounts.