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 | The Virgin of the Rocks | Reverse side of the portrait of Ginevra de' Benci | Leda | Virgin and Child with St Anne |
Related Artists:William Dobson
William Dobson Locations
William Dobson (March 4, 1610 ?C October 28, 1646) was a portraitist and one of the first notable English painters, praised by his contemporary John Aubrey as the most excellent painter that England has yet bred.
Dobson was born in London the son of a decorative artist, and was apprenticed to William Peake and probably later joined the studio of Francis Cleyn. He is believed to have had access to the Royal Collection and to have copied works by Titian and Anthony Van Dyck, King Charles I chief painter. The colour and texture of Dobson work was influenced by Venetian art, but Van Dyck style has little apparent influence on Dobson. Van Dyck himself discovered Dobson when he noticed one of the young artists pictures in a London shop window. He introduced Dobson to the King, who had Dobson paint himself, his sons and members of the court.
When Van Dyck died in 1641, Dobson probably succeeded him as sergeant-painter to the King, though proof is lacking. During the English Civil War Dobson was based at the Royalist centre of Oxford and painted many leading Cavaliers. His portrait of the future Charles II as Prince of Wales at the age of around twelve is a notable baroque composition, and perhaps his finest work. He also painted the Duke of York, Prince Rupert of the Rhine and Prince Maurice.
Charles II when Prince of Wales, circa 1642 or 1643.Around sixty of Dobson works survive, mostly half-length portraits most of them dated from 1642 or later. The thick impasto of his early work gave way to a mere skim of paint, perhaps reflecting a wartime scarcity of materials. After Oxford fell to the Parliamentarians, in June 1646, Dobson returned to London. Now without patronage, he was briefly imprisoned for debt and died in poverty at the age of thirty-six.
Dobson is regarded as a talented painter with a fine sense for colour and good powers of observation. However, an entirely English training such as Dobson could not be first rate in the early 17th century and he had technical weaknesses. There are examples of Dobson work at Tate Britain and the National Portrait Gallery in London and at several English country houses. The most comprehensive study of Dobson and his work is William Dobson, 1611?C1646 an exhibition catalogue written by M. Rogers for a 1983 exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery.Charles Farrer
English Charles S.Raleigh
English-born American, 1830-1925