The Life and Works of Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci was born in Vinci, Italy in 1452 as an illegitimate child to Sir Piero of Florence and Caterina of Vinci. Because of this he was not accepted in the church or in schools, and had a difficult time obtaining his legal inheritance after his father’s death. He overcame all of this, however, and became one of the greatest and most influential men of the Renaissance.

Da Vinci’s Life

He was an painter, sculptor, architect, anatomist and medical illustrator, an engineer, a musician and an inventor. His greatest paintings include the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, some of his inventions include the parachute and the underwater diving lung and his most famous sculpting is Horse and Rider. He also has several famous sayings such as “He who knows all things can do all things. One has but to know and there will be wings.” and “Let no man who is not a Mathematician read the elements of my work.” He went to great lengths to accomplish the things he did, including digging up more than 30 dead bodies in order to study them.

Because of Da Vinci’s illegitimacy and being unable to go to school, his parents sent him to Verrocchio, a sculptor, where he even is said to have modeled for the sculpture David. His parents did this so that he would learn a trade, if nothing else. Little did they know what great things would come from that. Verrocchio is said to have given up painting when he saw his work compared to Leonardo’s on Baptism Of Christ, that they worked on together. Da Vinci never finished many of his paintings. He has less completed paintings than he has unfinished paintings, such as St. Jerome and Adoration of the Magi (Three Wise Men Approach Mary).

Da Vinci ran into legal troubles and was disowned for a time by his father when two anonymous complaints were filed against him accusing him of sodomy with a male model from Verrocchio’s studio. Fortunately, however, the accuser did not show up to court and he was dismissed. He then faced another problem because of his illegitimacy and accusations when he was not invited along with all of the other prestigious artists to paint the Sistine Chapel. However, he did receive a commission to paint Madonna of the Rocks in 1483. Twenty years later he redid this painting completely, with some slight changes. Both of these versions still exist today and can be compared to see how his style and techniques changed over the years.

Parabolas in Da Vinci’s Work

Much of Da Vinci’s artwork contained parabolas. In fact, many say that he became obsessed with them. A major reason for this was his desire for mathematical perfection in his art. A parabola is a conic section with a vertex and can be found all throughout Da Vinci’s paintings. Some of his paintings that include the most obvious parabolas are Madonna of the Yarnwinder, where the angles and shapes of the people all have parabolas, and the famous Mona Lisa, where he used parabolas to create her smile. Other paintings of his in which parabolas can be found are Lady With Ermine, the first version of the previously mentioned Madonna of the Rocks, Virgin, St. Anne, and Child, and St. John the Baptist.

He also used mathematics and parabolas in his designs for Luca Pacioli’s book De divina proportione in 1497 and in his ceiling fresco that he created for the Sforza Castle’s Sala delle Asse in Milan. The perfection of this design is easily seen when the geometrical patterns are viewed. His designs for Pacioli’s book are very famous and helped to explain a lot about the human body and how it moves and works, which is crucial for photographic or accurate and realistic artwork of people. He used extreme mathematical technique to perfect these drawings, as well as the extended study of corpses which he obtained in the oddest of ways and dissected for study.

Hyperbolas and ellipses, both other forms of parabolas, are also found in Da Vinci’s work, but parabolas are the most often seen. Working with Pacioli, the father of modern accounting, spurred Da Vinci’s love for creating geometrical shapes and designs. He also read a lot about geometry and learned how to incorporate it into his artwork. He used parabolas in the figures’ inclinations, arms, legs, hips, hands, eyes, mouths, animals, rocks, roads, mountains, clothing and even jewelry.

Paintings by other famous Renaissance artists ,which contain the same scenery and objects as Da Vinci’s paintings, can be viewed and compared to his but the difference between the use of parabolas in Da Vinci’s and the absence of parabolas in the other paintings is obvious. Da Vinci’s use of parabolas in his paintings cause the people to seem more real and lifelike. Their eyes are bright and lively, their smiles enigmatic.

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