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 :. | Madonna with a Flower | Madonna and Child with a Pomegranate | Pod of cherry and forest strawberry | Bacchus | The Last Supper |
Related Artists:Fra Carnevale
Italian, active 1445-1484Adam Frans van der Meulen
painted Louis XIV before Strasbourg in 1682John warwick smith
English Painter, 1749-1831
English painter. The son of a gardener to the Gilpin family, he studied under the animal painter Sawrey Gilpin. During a trip to Derbyshire with Gilpin he met George Greville, 2nd Earl of Warwick, who gave him financial support to go to Italy between 1776 and 1781. Smith spent 1778-9 in Naples and was otherwise based in Rome, where he explored the Campagna and made sketches with William Pars and Francis Towne. The strong greens and purples and crisp pen outlines of some of Smith's watercolours are strongly influenced by Towne's style. Smith and Towne travelled together across the Alps on their way back to England in 1781, after which Smith settled in Warwick. He contributed six views to Samuel Middiman's Select Views in Great Britain (1784-5) and between 1784 and 1806 toured Wales 13 times in search of Picturesque and Sublime scenery. He also visited the Lake District between 1789 and 1792, which resulted in the publication of Twenty Views of the Lake District (1791-5); he appears to have been in Devon and Worcestershire as well. Aquatints after Smith were used to illustrate William Sotheby's Tour through Parts of Wales (1794),