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 :. | Portrait of Ginevra de' Benci | The Annunciation d | Madonna of the Rocks | Detail of Madonna of the Rocks | The Annunciation-o |
Related Artists:MALOUEL, Jean
Netherlandish Gothic Era Painter, ca.1365-1415
North Netherlandish painter, active in Burgundy. He was the son of the heraldic artist Willem Maelwael and uncle of the Limbourg brothers. First recorded as a painter in 1382, he is then documented on 20 September 1396 for a commission to provide designs for textiles with decorative armorial bearings for Queen Isabeau of Bavaria, wife of Charles VI, for which he received payment on 27 March 1397. By 5 August 1397 he was in Dijon, where he succeeded Jean de Beaumetz as court painter and Valet de Chambre to Philip the Bold, Duke of Burgundy. Malouel was highly paid, and his annual pension was considerably more than that of Beaumetz or of the sculptor Claus Sluter. One of the first works Malouel produced for the Duke was a painting of the Apostles with St Anthony (untraced), paid for on 11 November 1398, which the Duke is known to have kept in his private oratory. On 18 March 1398 wooden supports were purchased for Malouel to paint five large altarpieces for the Charterhouse of Champmol, outside Dijon. The subject-matter of the paintings is not specified in the document, although the dimensions of the panels are given. The Martyrdom of St Denis (Paris, Louvre; for illustration see BELLECHOSE, HENRI) has been identified as one of these five panels, on the basis of its possible provenance and its dimensions, which correspond approximately to those given in the document. In May 1416, however, Henri Bellechose received pigments to 'perfect' a painting of the Life of St Denis, and this document, in conjunction with the earlier one, has been interpreted to suggest that Bellechose completed a work left unfinished by Malouel. Seymour Joseph Guy
1824-1910Delannoy jules Charles