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 of the Rocks | Detail of Madonna of the Rocks | Adoration of the Magi | The Virgin of the Rocks | Portrait of Ginerva de'Benci |
Related Artists:PIAZZA, Callisto
Italian painter, Lombard school (b. ca. 1500, Lodi, d. ca. 1561, Lodi)
Early collaborative projects with Martino and Albertino remain problematic. He probably moved to Brescia in 1523; the first major extant dated work is a Nativity (1524; Brescia, Pin. Civ. Tosio-Martinengo), painted for S Clemente, Brescia. In Brescia he studied the work of Moretto da Brescia and of Gerolamo Romanino, with whom he may have collaborated. Their influence is seen in the Visitation (1525; Brescia, S Maria Calchera) and especially in the group of works painted for churches in the Valcamonica. These include a Deposition (1527; Esine parish church); a Virgin Enthroned with Saints (Breno, S Antonio); a frescoed lunette of the Virgin Enthroned with Saints Arthur Tozart
(1800 -1900 ) - PainterMercier, Philippe
French Painter, ca.1689-1760
was a French painter and etcher, who lived principally and was active in England. He was born in Berlin of French extraction, the son of a Huguenot tapestry-worker. He studied painting at the Akademie der Wissenschaften of Berlin and later under Antoine Pesne, who had arrived in Berlin in 1710. Later, he traveled in Italy and France before arriving in London??"recommended by the Court at Hannover"??probably in 1716. He married in London in 1719 and lived in Leicester Fields. He was appointed principal painter and librarian to the Prince and Princess of Wales at their independent establishment in Leicester Fields, and while he was in favor he painted various portraits of the Royalties, and no doubt many of the nobility and gentry. Of the Royal portraits, those of the Prince of Wales and of his three sisters, painted in 1728, were all engraved in mezzotint by Jean Pierre Simon, and that of the three elder children of the Prince of Wales by the John Faber Junior in 1744. This last was a typical piece of Mercier's composition, the children being made the subject of a spirited, if somewhat childish, allegory in their game of play. Prince George is represented with a firelock on his shoulder, teaching a dog his drill