which of these artistic works did leonardo da vinci contribute to the renaissance
The first is da Vinci’s “The Last Supper,” painted during his time in Milan, from about 1495 to 1498. A tempera and oil mural on plaster, “The Last Supper” was created for the refectory of the city’s Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Also known as “The Cenacle,” this work measures about 15 by 29 feet and is the artist’s only surviving fresco. It depicts the Passover dinner during which Jesus Christ addresses the Apostles and says, “One of you shall betray me.” One of the painting’s stellar features is each Apostle’s distinct emotive expression and body language. Its composition, in which Jesus is centered among yet isolated from the Apostles, has influenced generations of painters.
The notebooks—often referred to as da Vinci’s manuscripts and “codices”—are housed today in museum collections after having been scattered after his death. The Codex Atlanticus, for instance, includes a plan for a 65-foot mechanical bat, essentially a flying machine based on the physiology of the bat and on the principles of aeronautics and physics. Other notebooks contained da Vinci’s anatomical studies of the human skeleton, muscles, brain, and digestive and reproductive systems, which brought new understanding of the human body to a wider audience. However, because they weren’t published in the 1500s, da Vinci’s notebooks had little influence on scientific advancement in the Renaissance period.
Using his inventive mind, da Vinci sketched war machines such as a war chariot with scythe blades mounted on the sides, an armored tank propelled by two men cranking a shaft and even an enormous crossbow that required a small army of men to operate.
The sales figure was stunning in part because of the damaged condition of the oil-on-panel, which features Jesus Christ with his right hand raised in blessing and his left holding a crystal orb, and because not all experts believe it was rendered by da Vinci.
When Leonardo was about 15, his father, who enjoyed a high reputation in the Florentine community, apprenticed him to artist Andrea del Verrocchio. In Verrocchio’s renowned workshop Leonardo received multifaceted training that included painting and sculpture as well as the technical-mechanical arts. He also worked in the next-door workshop of artist Antonio Pollaiuolo, a sculptor, painter, engraver, and goldsmith, who frequently worked with his brother, Piero. In 1472 Leonardo was accepted into the painters’ guild of Florence, but he remained in his teacher’s workshop for five more years, after which time he worked independently in Florence until 1481.
During this period Leonardo worked on a grandiose sculptural project that seems to have been the real reason he was invited to Milan: a monumental equestrian statue in bronze to be erected in honour of Francesco Sforza, the founder of the Sforza dynasty. Leonardo devoted 12 years—with interruptions—to this task. In 1493 the clay model of the horse was put on public display on the occasion of the marriage of Emperor Maximilian to Bianca Maria Sforza, and preparations were made to cast the colossal figure, which was to be 16 feet (5 metres) high. But, because of the imminent danger of war, the metal, ready to be poured, was used to make cannons instead, causing the project to come to a halt. Ludovico’s fall in 1499 sealed the fate of this abortive undertaking, which was perhaps the grandest concept of a monument in the 15th century. The ensuing war left the clay model a heap of ruins.
“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt,” Leonardo da Vinci famously said. He invented sfumato, an application of subtly colored glazes, to convey atmosphere and the subtle shifts of feeling across a human face.
In the accompanying text to the drawing, Leonardo describes his intention to study the proportions of man as described by the first century BC Roman architect Vitruvius (for whom the drawing was named) in his treatise De Architectura (On Architecture, published as Ten Books on Architecture). Vitruvius used his own studies of well-proportioned man to influence his design of temples, believing that symmetry was crucial to their architecture. Leonardo used Vitruvius as a starting point for inspiration in his own anatomical studies and further perfected his measurements, correcting over half of Vitruvius’ original calculations. The idea of relative proportion has influenced western Renaissance architecture and beyond as a concept for creating harmony between the earthly and divine in churches, as well as the temporal in palaces and palatial residences.
Da Vinci was fascinated by science, engineering, and mechanics. He wrote about these subjects copiously in his notebooks. His theory of knowledge was based on the study of nature. Leonardo was also intrigued by the human body and he is believed to have dissected up to 30 human bodies and made many anatomical drawings.
While he received little or no formal education as a child, at 15 he was apprenticed to Andrea del Verrocchio (1435–1488). He was one of the leading artists of his day and was a great influence on the young Leonardo, especially in his dynamic representations of the human figure.