Leonardo da Vinci Biography
Leonardo da Vinci rose from an illegitimate birth to become renowned as a polymath who mastered many complex disciplines in a wide variety of subjects from science to sculpture, architecture to anatomy and engineering to mathematics to name but a few. During his time he was more famous for his artistry, engineering and architectural design than the full broad range that his learning afforded him.
His inventive mind came up with prototypes on paper that were so advanced there was little pragmatic use for them in his day and it would be centuries before his creative designs were recognised as forerunners for, amongst others, the helicopter, tank, bicycle, parachute and submarine.
Leonardo is recognised as creating two of the most copied paintings in the history of art as prints based on the "Mona Lisa" and "The Last Supper" have graced the internal walls of millions of dwellings across the globe. His influence has spanned centuries with every subsequent generation equally astounded at the gift of brilliance bestowed on the Italian genius.
The Swiss artist Henry Fuseli spoke glowingly in 1801 when he was quoted as saying:
"Such was the dawn of modern art, when Leonardo da Vinci broke forth with a splendour that distanced former excellence: made up of all the elements that constitute the essence of genius". The eminent French historian Hippolyte Taine was moved to say in 1866:
"There may not be in the world an example of another genius so universal, so incapable of fulfilment, so full of yearning for the infinite, so naturally refined, so far ahead of his own century and the following centuries".
I could fill a whole page with glowing adjectives describing the erudite wisdom that was contained in da Vinci, but as action speaks louder than words, you only have to look at the actions of the French king Francis I who lured him to Amboise in France by rewarding him with a Château and a budget which gave him the freedom to create art and inventions at his leisure. His ability to visualise things was a key aspect of his imaginative precocity, he believed that knowing how to look at things was the key piece in the jigsaw of inventiveness.
He looked upon science, art and mathematics as the academic equivalent of a ménage à trois marriage made in heaven rather than three subjects occupying three empty shelves of the mind. The saying
"hidden in plain sight" affects most people as they tend to look at everything from their own point of view which invariably masks the potential opportunities available and when the demarcation lines between different disciplines are removed it opens up a broader perspective to look at things.
It was not just coded manuscripts he has given us because he was great for a one liner also, so here is my compilation of 21 of the best Leonardo da Vinci quotes
Quotes About Leonardo da Vinci
The Austrian physicist Fritjof Capra saw past the brush strokes:
"For Leonardo, painting is both an art and a science"
The author Edward MacCurdy studied his mind:
"What thinker has ever possessed the cosmic vision so insistently? He sought to establish the essential unity of structure of all living things, the earth an organism with veins and arteries, the body of a man a type of that of the world"
Biographer Walter Isaacson recognised the art across the educational disciplines:
"You don’t get to paint the Mona Lisa unless you spend a lifetime appreciating the connections of patterns across from nature’s disciplines"
Eminent author Sherwin B. Nuland looked past his art as he said:
"The more the manuscripts of Leonardo are studied, the more one begins to see him not so much as a transcendent artist, but primarily as a man of science, whose skills and commissions as an artist and engineer enabled him to support his fascination with nature"