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 Madonna of the Carnation | Flower Studies | Last Supper | Studies for a Nativity | Study for the Trivulzio Equestrian Monument |
Related Artists:FARINATI, Paolo
Italian painter, Veronese school (b. 1524, Verona, d. 1606, Verona)
Italian painter and draughtsman. He was the son of a painter, Giambattista, but probably trained in the workshop of Nicola Giolfino (Vasari). His earliest documented painting, St Martin and the Beggar (1552; Mantua Cathedral), was commissioned by Cardinal Ercole Gonzaga along with works by Battista dell'Angolo del Moro, Veronese and Domenico Brusasorci for Mantua Cathedral, newly restored by Giulio Romano. As is evident in his chiaroscuro and figure types, Farinati had absorbed certain Mannerist influences from the frescoes of scenes from the Life of the Virgin (1534) in the choir of Verona Cathedral, executed by Francesco Torbido to Giulio's design. Giolfino's eccentric style would also have encouraged Farinati to emphasize line over colour and to restrict his palette to rather opaque greys, browns, mauve and rust. His two-canvas Massacre of the Innocents (1556; Verona, S Maria in Organo) displays the muscular figures, sharp foreshortenings and posed attitudes of Mannerism and has a more polished finish than his earlier work. Its strong, plastic qualities are also evident in Christ Walking on the Water and the Supper of St Gregory (1558) in the choir of the same church. Quentin Matsys
Flemish Northern Renaissance Painter, ca.1465-1530,Flemish painter. After studying in Louvain, he moved to Antwerp by 1491, remaining in that city throughout his life. Influences of Italian art, especially of Leonardo da Vinci, may be seen in his work, particularly in the delicate modeling, the subtle nuances of tone, and in the adoption of Leonardo's grotesque head studies for such pictures as The Old Man (Jacquemart-Andre Mus., Paris) and Ugly Duchess (National Gall., London). Massys sought inspiration also in works of earlier Flemish artists, especially of Jan van Eyck. The combined Flemish and Italian influences aided Massys in evolving a calm and measured style, with solid figures and soft textures. He developed a type of portraiture in which the sitter was placed against an appropriate background, as in his painting of St. Erasmus surrounded by books and papers (National Gall., Rome). There are religious subjects and portraits by Massys in the museums of Munich, Brussels, Antwerp, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Quentin's son, Jan Massys, c.1509?C1575, painted satirical and later more elegant works under French influence. Judith (Mus. of Fine Arts, Boston) is characteristic. Another son, Cornelis Massys, d. after 1560, was a landscape painter and engraver. Alfred Darjou