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The Great Polymath, Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519) was an Italian Renaissance master known equally well for his prowess in painting and drawing as for his inventions, scientific studies, writing, and knowledge of engineering. Born near the city of Florence in Anchiano, Italy, Leonardo demonstrated exceptional abilities early in life; during his apprenticeship under Andrea del Verrocchio, he learned how to manipulate perspective, tone, form, color, composition, and subject matter. Over his lifetime, he produced over sixty paintings and hundreds of drawings that profoundly affected Western art.

Leonardo Da Vinci, born in 1452 in Anchiano, Italy, became famous both as a painter and scientist. As a youth, he trained in Florence under the sculptor Andrea Del Verocchio where he learnt about line, light, colour and shadow. He progressively developed a style using these principles which has influenced generations of artists since. Leonardo created fewer than sixty paintings but left many hundreds of drawings behind.

His skills were diverse beyond art. Through obsessive observation he recorded details of nature and technology making thousands of pages of notes. The content ranges across topics such as botany, hydrology, astronomy, physics and military strategy.

He applied the empirical method to human physiology, performing experiments and taking copious notes of his findings. A key project focused around ten years of dissection of cadavers at hospitals for religious institutions. His innovation allowed accurate mapping of the internal physical structures of humans. Notably he discovered that arteries contained oxygenated blood rather than air (as previously believed). He also pioneered techniques related to proportion and depth perception in his depictions of human form and movement, revolutionizing figurative art. For example, most of us are familiar with the iconic image he painted called the “Mona Lisa”. Although we cannot see her smile, it still seems somehow enigmatic.

Sadly, a number of his works were destroyed due to his preference for mixing oil and tempera media onto wooden surfaces. Today many of those surviving are located in museums including Paris, London, New York, Madrid, Berlin and Moscow. Due in part to these losses, there exist no truly complete record of his output. Despite that situation, the impact of his artistic methods are still used by professional fine artists globally to create beautiful images nearly six centuries after they were first conceived

As an artist myself, I find Leonardo da Vinci to be one of the most fascinating figures throughout history. His boundless curiosity and ability to observe the natural world with fresh eyes continues to inspire countless generations of artists, scientists, inventors, engineers, philosophers…the list goes on.

What excites me the most is how much we still have left to discover and learn about this remarkable man and his work – even centuries after his passing. There remains such mystery surrounding many aspects of his life and artwork. This leaves so much room for interpretation and creation, enabling artists like myself to continue engaging with him in meaningful ways.

One notable example lies in the famous Mona Lisa painting which, despite being perhaps the most renowned piece of Western art globally, has intrigued experts and enthusiasts alike since its creation. Countless theories abound regarding her identity and facial expression, leading viewers to project their imaginings onto the canvas.

In essence, Leonardo da Vinci’s impact on my creative process derives from his enduring legacy as an iconoclastic polymath. By defying convention and relentlessly asking questions, he established himself as both a cultural and historical pioneer who refuses to fade away. Instead, he fuels contemporary dialogues across multiple disciplines, offering limitless opportunities for collaboration, experimentation, reflection, innovation, and personal discovery.

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