Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Leonardo da Vinci – the Renaissance man

Have you ever heard of the Renaissance Man; what about the painting called ‘Mona Lisa’; do you know of the one who first thought of the possibility of flying that he even went ahead to execute drawings of flying machines centuries before man ever actualised that dream? These and many more are all attributable to one man, indeed one of the greatest geniuses if not the greatest, that ever walked the surface of this planet earth. I am talking of Leonardo da Vinci. Thus this is my personal perception of the universe man whose body of works has continued to astound everybody around the world. That is Leonardo da Vinci - the legend and enigma; a bundle of unquantifiable creative opulence.

‘Virgin of the Rocks’ - Painting

Thus Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452, in Vinci, republic of Florence or present day Italy; he excelled in everything he ever set out his mind to do: He was outstanding as an artist (painter, sculptor, and draughtsman); he was equally outstanding and accomplished as an architect, poet, anatomist, writer, musician, mathematician, inventor, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and engineer. The world’s most famous piece of painting today, and the most expensive at that – Mona Lisa, is the work of this genius, and it is at least five hundred years old now. If you think of the popular painting called ‘The Last Supper’, it is also attributable to this great man of the arts and sciences. 

‘The Last Supper’ - Painting by Leonardo da Vinci

So much of Leonardo da Vinci’s anatomical drawings have given vent to the drawings of anatomy that medical doctors make use of today. He sort of exemplifies the meaning and essence of the entire Renaissance period in that he stood as a figure towering centrally about this epoch. This was the period of European history at the close of the Middle Ages and the rise of the modern world; a cultural rebirth from the 14th through the middle of the 17th centuries. 

The Renaissance was a period of great revival of learning and culture especially in art, literature, and architecture. Hence, Leonardo da Vinci was referred to as the ‘Renaissance Man’. He was immeasurably curious, restless, creative and inventive. He rather saw the entire universe with a totally logical and empirical view instead of a mystery. And this thought and philosophy typified his ideals as well as approach to work. 

‘The Vitruvian Man’ (drawing ) c. 1485

The artist’s drawing of ‘The Vitruvian Man’ has become an all time symbol of man, creativity and the universe in relation to the central process of creation, eternity, the soul and the spirit essence. It has also become a world famous cultural icon. Again ‘Mona Lisa’ apart from being the most popular painting ever, is also the most parodied all around the world; ‘The Last Supper’ is however the most reproduced Christian religious icon ever also around the world.

All through his life he had put together a huge compilation of notes, books, studies, drawings and thoughts, such body of works that can only be rivaled by that of his contemporary – Michelangelo. Born out of wedlock to a notary – Piero da Vinci and a peasant lady called Caterina, Leonardo da Vinci went to be trained in the studio of a renowned Florentine painter named Verrocchio. And he died at the age of 67 on May 2, in the year 1519.

By Morgan Nwanguma

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