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Leonardo da Vinci, his paintings, drawings, and inventions

Da Vinci
Leonardo da Vici was a true genius who graced this world with his presence from April 15, 1452 to May 2, 1519. Like Athens in the age of Pericles, Renaissance Italy is a summit in human history. Today, no name better seems to symbolize that age than Leonardo da Vinci.

Not only was he one of the most influential artists, Leonardo da Vici was one of the most influential individuals in the Western World during his time, and still to this day. He was originally trained in Florence, as a painter and a sculptor, however is most noted for his scientific discoveries and work. He was observant, constantly experimenting, inventing, and the art and drawings he created, were a way for him to recreate and record the investigations and discoveries which he made throughout nature. In terms of public works, there were very few which were publicly seen; but, later discoveries found over 2500 pieces of work which Leonardo da Vici had created, most of which were still in his original notebooks.

Leonardo da Vici spent most of his life in Florence (where he was born in 1452) and Milan. However, the later years of his life were spent in Rome. For these reasons, and because of the time period he lived through, many of his art works depict religious images and undertones; most notable of these, and possibly his most famous piece of work, is the Last Supper. He lived during a period when art forms were changing, and scientific revolution were ahead of their time. Much of the work he did was similar to the work which other Renaissance period artists designed around. The darker tones, small pieces of light, and the literal meanings in most of his art works, were some of the features that were noted in many pieces which were later discovered.

Most of the work which was left behind by Leonardo da Vici is discovered through the series of drawing which he created. Much of the work he canvased in notebooks. One such piece he canvased was Studies for the Nativity, in which he created a mother, and the way in which she could carry and care for her child (Mary and Jesus). Another series of work he did showcased how actors were portrayed on stage, and he transitioned ideas in his imagination, down on paper (Allegorical Design).

Not only did Leonardo da Vici draw on emotion and people he observed, he also did sketches and design work for the things he saw outside and throughout nature. The human anatomy, plant life, motion of water, and the flight of birds, were some of the things which he designed in many of the pieces which he created. He was also intrigued by the machinery and mechanics of how large machines and equipment worked, and commonly designed around the engineering world as well.

The range which Leonardo da Vici showcased in these, and other drawing he created, varied greatly. In certain images he designed, they were basic pen and paper drawings. There were no fine details, and no attention to design; they were simply images of what he saw, and what he put down on the paper when he first observed it. On the flip side, many of his works were extremely detailed drawings; he paid attention to detail, and used red and black chalks to design the detail, and the different shades in the images which he was creating. Depending on the work, and the type of creation which he was putting down on paper, there was very little emotion, while in other pieces he designed the full range of emotions and design detail, in more elaborate art pieces which he created. His interest in physiognomy, the contrasts between old and new (old and young), and the difference in beauty and ugly images, were often the centerpieces to many of these designs which he created.

Located at the end wall of the Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, is one of Leonardo da Vici's most famous pieces, The Last Supper. Not only is it possibly his most celebrated piece, it is also one of the finest art works to come out of the Renaissance period and movement. The piece was just recently restored, and it had already begun to flake and show signs of ware, during his lifetime; this was because of the failed attempts to paint on the wall layers, as opposed to using a true fresco technique, which would have created a more solid surface, and easier mode to design. The image depicts pictorial illusionism, and a dramatic narrative of the event which referenced the last supper Jesus had with the disciples, before his death.

In this masterpiece which Leonardo da Vici created, it captures the moment right after Jesus tells the disciples that one of them will betray him. The visible emotions are clearly seen in the image depicted, and in the body language which was used in the design. The artist coined the emotions as "motions of the mind." Although the emotions are a central theme, he chose to keep Christ as the central image of the painting, by creating the halo around his head, and the famous beam of light around it as well.

In contrast to the Last Supper, Leonardo da Vici is also most known for another masterpice - the painting of Mona Lisa, who was the wife of Francesco del Giocondo. The soft light which creates a mood of enchantment, no hard lines or contrast in the design, and only seamless transitions, through the dark and light of the image, create a mystery around the design. One of the most striking and intriguing features of the design, is the half smile which is visibly noted, and clearly depicted, which has caused quite a bit of conversation in what the image is supposed to depict, or what the central idea is around the image. As Mona Lisa is looking directly at the viewer, the rest of her body, torso, and head, are twisted in a slightly different direction; this conveys a sense of restriction or immobility in the figure. Deep receding backgrounds, along with dark colors throughout, and only small areas of light, convey a dark piece.

The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.” - Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vici avoided the intrigues of worldly ambitions and vanity. He was a reserved and withdrawn man, not concerned with glory, and yet absolutely sure of the value of his abilities. A consummate intellectual endowed with an extraordinary imagination, he remains the most outstanding figure of the Renaissance.

Masterpieces of Leonardo da Vinci

  • The Mona Lisa
  • The Last Supper
  • The Virgin and Child with St Anne
  • Self Portrait
  • Madonna of the Yarnwinder
  • The Annunciation
  • The Vitruvian Man
  • Lady with an Ermine
  • Bacchus
  • Embryo in the Womb
  • Litta Madonna
  • Head of a Young Woman
  • Portrait of Ginevra de' Benci
  • Leda and the Swan
  • St. John the Baptist