Personality of Leonardo da Vinci
“All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.”
What made this personality a real legend?
As in the life of this inventor prevail some facts and events that schematize this personality, we realize that here we are with the character of a real genius. Early on his life, he had revealed and portrayed his diversity and eagerness in sketching and designing, striving for observation and experimentation that accompanied him throughout his entire life. He never stopped questioning and posing questions of matters we take for granted. “Why is the sky blue?”, for instance… His diving into the world of knowledge was a quest that was his way of living and being. Even though he did not get a classical education, he would always retrieve the answer to his queries through experimentation. What could have once been a point of discomfort now became his way of seeing things that through action and experiments and observation do we derive the desired results. He often showed off his knowledge gained from experience that was superior to the knowledge gained from reading. In general, he was a very lively person with many talents, very pleasant and appealing. Besides his handsome looks, his outgoing and generous personality brought him many friends and followers. He was a cheerful performer with his lyre and musical instruments but also with his singing and spontaneous verse constructing talent, which made him a pleasant company. He engaged in discussions and raised peculiar issues and topics in order to find answers to his queries and absorb new information from his encounters. He managed to concentrate and keep all his power in line with his knowledge quest and in every form of being, either drawing or having a conversation. He was a source of information, especially while he was growing older with experience on his background. He was a good companion and teacher to his last patron, the king of France. What would result in peaceful elderly years… He was homosexual and diverse, and did not attempt to hide it. Although he was accused of sodomy and the political and social situation did not put up with homosexuality, he still preserved the freedom of being himself. He wore pink outfits shorter than what it was accustomed and he cared for his appearance. He spent money on clothes for both himself and Salai, his companion. As he was clever, he cared for animals, he was vegetarian and he wore clothes that were not made out of animal skin. This was a personal sensitivity that embarked in his being exclusively, since it was not a trend of the time like it is nowadays. He evolved in an era where the arts were not a claustrophobic process of an isolated creator, but rather a get-together of many researchers of many fields working side by side and collaborating into creating projects, and even living together. From the time he was a student till the times he moved from city to city and from royal court to royal court, till when he was accompanied by his crew, he was always surrounded by creative people. This encouraged the exchange of ideas and the brainstorming on issues to further emphasize the yearning for perfection. Perfectionist! He was a real perfectionist, indeed… He was skilled in so many disciplines; however, his output has been surprisingly small as he failed to complete his paintings and he was easily bored. He was the archetypal Renaissance polymath, a creative genius whose inventiveness flourished across a bewildering range of disciplines… His work offered brilliant insights into many fields such as human and animal anatomy, natural history or engineering… Many analysts have striven to give an insight to this great mind, even Freud, and have all spoiled us with intriguing theories. He was restless, before completing one thought he would forcefully enter the next one and his sketches are crafted about different and diverse issues one next to the other. He enjoyed composing rather than executing his ideas, preferred the conception phase. This is probably why he never published any of his investigations which where all in depth and a valuable donation to humanity. Anyway, for whatever reason, Leonardo was notoriously tardy about finishing things. Once a work was almost ready or finished, he lost interest in it… Thus, although he left a voluminous fragmentary archive of sketches, drawings and writings, his artistic reputation rests on a very small number of paintings and artwork.
“Tears come from the heart and not from the brain.”
Leonardo da Vinci’s genealogy
Leonardo was fortunate enough to be born out of wedlock. This occurrence enabled him to deal with his diverse interests and not with his family’s notarial tradition, which reaches five generations back. It all finds its roots from Sir Michele da Vinci, a prominent title due to the importance and honesty of his profession.The same course was followed by his son and grandson, with the exception of the next generation in Antonio, Leonardo’s grandfather, who simply pleased to enjoy his title and the profits earned by his family, without putting much effort in developing his career. Research into Leonardo’s genealogy traces his family’s roots to Spain and Morocco as Antonio da Vinci, Leonardo’s grandfather, regularly did business in Spain and Morocco and his contacts with the Arab culture and Islam, his tales about documents written in exotic-looking writing, pigments, spices and fantastic landscapes, all likely influenced Leonardo. Piero, his son and father of Leonardo, an authentic Da Vinci, restored the family’s reputation and excelled in the courtyards of the Medici as a notary. On a trip to Vinci, Piero met with Caterina di Meo Lippi, an orphan girl from the region, who, nine months later, gave birth to a boy, Leonardo. At the time of his birth, Antonio, who was playing backgammon at the time, was summoned to draw up the notarial act of the birth of Leonardo on April 15th, a Saturday of 1452. His baptism was attended by honorary members of society, he was baptized by ten godfathers and his father attended. The baptistry still exists in that same church nowadays. It is worth mentioning that Piero did not play an active role in raising Leonardo. However, although Leonardo was illegitimate, he was accepted into his father’s household and reared there.
“It’s easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.”
Leonardo da Vinci’s Childhood
Leonardo was raised happily in two houses. He lived with his mother, Caterina di Meo Lippi, along with her husband, whom Piero himself made arrangements for the marriage. He lived also in the Da Vinci yard, with his father where the two families maintained relationships, and shared the growing up of the young Leonardo.He had a very good relationship with his grandfather Antonio and his grandmother. Likewise, Francesco, his uncle, fifteen years older than Leonardo, cared for him as if he was a child of his own.
Leonardo da Vinci’s early years in life
Leonardo was born at a time when children out of wedlock were not a dishonor. Many great artists of the time were born out of marriage, such as Philipo Lippi, Vocakio, Leon Batista Alberti and others. This made Leonardo feel like being part of his family but also at the same time alienated like a stranger to the society as a whole. This creates isolation as well as a freedom; this fact, in the case of Leonardo, was a trigger for his curiosity that leads to his journey of research and success.
“It is probably my fate to write about the hawk, since among the first memories of my early years is the impression that while I sat in my crib, a hawk approached, opened my mouth with its tail and struck me with it several times at the inside of my lips. ” This testimony of Leonardo has been approached by many scholars, and among them Freud, where he identifies this experience as the precursor of his homosexuality. Also the famous psychoanalyst notes that for the artist, his asphyxiated desires found expression in the intense creativity but he ended up leaving many projects incomplete. Leonardo himself had pointed out that “mental passion evades sensuality.” Others simply argue that this remembrance reflects his life-long interest in flying and birds.
“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.”
Leonardo da Vinci’s life in Florence
Leonardo da Vinci left a legacy bigger than life and Florence was the place where it all started, in within its very walls! After the death of his step mother Albeira, the first partner of Piero, to be followed by another three marriages, his father brought him to Florence. Since the expected child died at birth along with his wife, Piero felt alone and brought him to Florence, to live with him in his big house.Thus, in his early years, the great creator lived with his father, who attentively cared for his son and his education, however, never arriving at legally recognizing him as his son. Thus, the artistically busy Florence had been Leonardo’s place of inspiration for all the years of his teenage and young age.A scenic city that lived a cultural and economic development in a vibrant environment for artistic apprenticeship and exploration.It was the time of Brunelleschi, the inventor of perspective, and Alberti, who in his writings “On Painting” recognizes painters as creators equal to any other humanist quests.
“Learning never exhausts the mind.”
Education of Leonardo da Vinci
Da Vinci received no formal education beyond basic reading, writing and math, but his father appreciated his artistic talent and apprenticed him, at around age 14, to the noted sculptor and painter Andrea del Verrocchio of Florence. Piero noticed that his son would not stop painting, experimenting in sculpture and revealing his vivid imagination at every step of the way. The notary was clearly not one of his interests. So he took care of his education accordingly, first by finding him a teacher, then, by enrolling him in a technical high school, and, later on, by apprenticing him in the studio of the then-known Verrocchio. He did not get a classical education, nor did he learn any Latin that undermined the status of his education as a researcher throughout his life. Nevertheless, he was given enough skill to cope with his own curiosity and observation to offer the world his multifaceted discoveries. He always felt that experience and revelation is the true way towards the conquest of knowledge. From his technical high school years, he learned some basic mathematics and geometry, which later helped him in his explorations in mechanics, and his series of inventions. As left-handed Leonardo, he wrote from right to left and formed the letters horizontally mirrored. His writings are read through a mirror. This is why his notes are coded-like and rumors do apply that he wrote them this way to keep his pioneering creations as a secret. However, it is only rumors…
“Where there is shouting, there is no true knowledge.”
The School of Verrocchio
Verrocchio’s studio was at the center of the intellectual currents of Florence, assuring the young Leonardo of an education in the humanities. Verrocchio was a famous and multi-talented artist and engineer and his studio was one of the most audacious in Florence.His teacher was left speechless with Leonardo’s talent in painting and drawing and he immediately welcomed him at his studio. There, besides assimilating many tools for his art, Leonardo felt welcomed by his classmates. He had a demanding teaching program that included a study of various painting surfaces, principles of engineering, design techniques and three-dimensional fabric imaging.He showed great ability to manage three-dimensional patterns on a two-dimensional surface, and he managed to develop his knowledge of engineering by witnessing the production of great sculptures that the studio undertook over that time. His ability and inventiveness have also devised his own techniques, the well-known “sfumato” technique, which as a style will enchant the whole world with the most mysterious smile of the art history. The roots of the word come from the Italian ‘fumo’ which means smoke, and signifies the concept of color diffusion and the vagueness of the outline. Da Vinci himself described the “sfumato” technique as “without lines or borders, in the manner of smoke or beyond the picture plane.”
“Knowledge of the past and of the places of the earth is the ornament and food of the mind of man.”
Working with Verrocchio
At the age of 20, Leonardo qualified as a master in the Guild of Saint Luke, the guild of artists and doctors of medicine, but even after his father set him up in his own studio, his attachment to Verrocchio was such that he continued to collaborate with him. He participated in the completion of paintings as well as in other works. One of them, the Baptism of Christ, marked the story of both of them, student and teacher. The Baptism of Christ was mainly done by Verrochio using tempera on wood. The painting depicts St. John the Baptist during the baptism of the Lord Jesus Christ as according to the Gospels of Luke, Mark and Matthew. Two angels on the left side of the painting complete the four figures in the artwork. The scene illustrated by the painting includes God’s extended arms painted with golden rays and dove with its wings widely spread, a halo with cruciform is painted on top of Jesus’ head and another halo on top of St. John the Baptist. The two angels are holding Jesus’ clothes. The angel on the left side is the part done by Leonardo da Vinci. He used oil, which was at that time a new medium in painting. Leonardo painted the left angel on the painting and he executed it in such a manner that his angel was far better that the figures painted by Verrocchio. This was the reason why Verrocchio would never touch colours again, being so ashamed that a boy understood their use better than he did.
“If the poet says that he can inflame men with love.. the painter has the power to do the same…in that he can place in front of the lover the true likeness of one who is beloved, often making him kiss and speak to it”
Leonardo da Vinci’s work
We are witnesses of some works made by the student Leonardo and some of his first drawings, such as the Annunciation of the Virgin Mary and his two Madonnas, the Virgin Mary with the carnation and the Virgin Mary with the divine infant with flowers. Also, the portrait of Jenevra de Benci, that serves as a prologue to the Mona Lisa, a painting where he introduces the three-quarter posture, an innovation in the Italian painting to that day. The painting shows an incipient genius and was revolutionary in the history of painting.
“If the painter wishes to see beauties that charm him it lies in his power to create them, and if he wishes to see monstrosities that are frightful, buffoonish, or ridiculous, or pitiable he can be lord and god thereof; if he wants to produce inhabited regions or deserts or dark and shady retreats from the heat, or warm places in cold weather, he can do so.”
Leonardo da Vinci inventing art techniques
As already mentioned above, Leonardo da Vinci invented a technique that helped softened the colors by using a dark glaze around the edge of objects. This technique is known as sfumato, this is taken from the Italian word for smoke, ‘fumo’. This produces an effect that makes the outer edges of the objects of people in the painting appear to be slightly obscured by a haze or smoke. Moreover, Leonardo invented Chiarusco Technique; he shaped his objects in two dimensions by capturing the light and shadow of three dimensions. This use of light and shadow was called chiaroscuro. That was an innovation in a day when most paintings were flattened views of the subject.
“Marriage is like putting your hand into a bag of snakes in the hope of pulling out an eel.”
Leonardo da Vinci’s Sexuality
It’s generally believed amongst majority of academics that Leonardo was probably gay or at least bi-sexual. Anyway, when he was twenty-four years old, Leonardo was arrested, along with several young companions, on the charge of sodomy. No witnesses appeared against them and eventually the charges were dropped. It must be said that often anonymous charges like this were brought against people just for a nuisance. Even though the complaints did not pass through, they were enough to discriminate him socially and isolate him, as he wrote in his notebooks. Leonardo, in general, was dressed in colorful tunics and vests, and did not hide his homosexuality. However, the era was not favorable, as far as diversity was concerned, neither by the church nor by political leadership and laws.The poetry announcing homosexuality in the era of Leonardo has led the accused even to death. Even the Divine Comedy, known since then, sent the Sodomites to the seventh circle of Hell. However, in Florence, homosexual relations were very well-received. Verrocchio never married, neither did Botticelli, who was also accused for sodomy, Donatello and Michael Angelo were also homosexuals.The poems of the time and the folklore songs praised homosexual love, and in the German slang Florentine meant homosexual. Several things indicate that Leonardo was also probably gay. He never married or showed any interest in women; indeed, he wrote in his notebooks that male-female intercourse disgusted him. His anatomical drawings naturally include the sexual organs of both genders, but those of the male exhibit much more extensive attention.
“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”
His own studio
In 1477, at the age of 24, Leonardo opened his own studio leaving the nest of the studio of Verrocchio. This decision was a clear commercial failure, since, in his studio’s five years of operation, he took three orders that left all incomplete. One of them, The Adoration of the Magi, was an early painting made by Leonardo da Vinci. Leonardo was given the commission by the Augustinian monks of San Donato a Scopeto, in Florence, but he departed for Milan the following year, leaving the painting unfinished and he was in debt to the monastery. However, these were the times where these works were created leaving their mark in art and in history. Moreover, it was a time when he initiated the elaborate and realistic depiction of bodies in difficult poses which he was constantly studying in his notebooks. At this point, we should also point out that da Vinci experimented with perspective to create unforgettable impressions of people and places.
“The most praiseworthy form of painting is the one that most resembles what it imitates”
An untamed genius
Leonardo abandoned his painting works and left them incomplete for several reasons. First of all, his perfectionism found deficiencies and, sometimes, he was too bored to try to improve his designs. By studying his work and his thoughts, we also realize that he enters many difficult painterly puzzles, the shadow and the light source, bearing in mind his reflections as well as the theory that the figures had an influence on each other in their lights and colors. Imagine a composition that contained thirty figures such as the Adoration of the Magi. The execution of the project evoked a dull repetition and monotony which made the overpowering Leonardo get bored. Finally, this tireless genius preferred conceiving his works rather than executing them. Even if he completed his orders, he never delivered them. This was the case in ‘Mona Lisa’ art project. He drove his work in all his subsequent moves and, then, it was difficult to feel separated from his art piece or art pieces. He believed that there were always new things to discover on a painting, and he did not hesitate to intervene on them even after years since the last stroke.
A need for Change
Until his thirties, Leonardo had managed to build his reputation as a genius, no matter if he had no works to display to prove it. Facing a financial failure as regards his studio and having a permanent inner mood that he was alone and detached from friends and family, he felt it was time to make a move. So, he set off for Milan, a city that was the perfect environment for Leonardo, as Duke Ludovico invited men of letters and artists in his yard and wasted a lot of money for cultural events and fiestas. With lavish but enlightened patronage of artists and scholars, Ludovico made the court of Milan the most splendid not only in Italy but in Europe. Let us not forget that, unlike Florence, this new place was not so populated by artists, thus extinguishing the competition.So his choice was a fruitful opportunity, as it turned out in practice.
Job application to Ludovico
In a long and brilliant letter to the Duke, Leonardo invited him to accept him in his court for work. Being fully aware that Duke Ludovico was looking to employ artists and military engineers, Leonardo drafted an application letter that put his seemingly endless engineering talents front and center, by way of a 10-point list of his abilities; interestingly, his artistic genius is merely hinted at towards the very end. So, in this letter, Leonardo set out his knowledge of engineering and his ability of military designing, although all he had designed up to that day in his drawings touched the boundaries of imagination and were not applicable. He hoped to spur the Duke’s attention as he had gained his power over Milan by force and political instability would best describe the situation. “Most Illustrious Lord, Having now sufficiently considered the specimens of all those who proclaim themselves skilled contrivers of instruments of war, and that the invention and operation of the said instruments are nothing different from those in common use: I shall endeavor, without prejudice to any one else, to explain myself to your Excellency, showing your Lordship my secret, and then offering them to your best pleasure and approbation to work with effect at opportune moments on all those things..” Indeed, in the many notebooks of Leonardo, we find many-armed constructions of war and non-war machines, even machines that the enemy may not detect ships. He was really a decent candidate for an artistic and research opportunity. The effort paid off, and he was eventually employed. A decade later, it was Sforza who commissioned him to paint The Last Supper.
“There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see.”
Leonardo at the court of Ludovico
He finally managed to be admitted at the court of Ludovico Sforza in Milan, but not as a mechanic or an architect, but as a creator of massive theatrical scenes for various artistic festivities. He had shown a keen interest in this activity when still a young student at the studio in Verrocchio. Indeed, it was an occupation that explored many of Leonardo’s skills, his construction genius, his prodigious mind to bring forth clever scenes and strange sets, and of course keep his keen interest alive in the joyful multi skilled alternations that the occupation required. He managed to channel his imagination and his inventiveness in many ways. First of all, he created sets and scenery as well as designs and mechanisms for flying machines made in many variations. He preferred to invent prominent constructions that would fly over the scene in front of the eyes of the audience. These studies were to become the forerunner for deeper scientific searches later on. Da Vinci seemed truly excited by the possibility of people soaring through the skies like birds. One of da Vinci’s most famous inventions, the flying machine (also known as the “ornithopter”) ideally displays his powers of observation and imagination, as well as his enthusiasm for the potential of flight and the design for this invention is clearly inspired by the flight of winged animals, which da Vinci hoped to replicate. Academics believe that he had set the bases for the development of aviation as the notion of a human-powered mechanical flight device, an idea that he was the first to conceive, a device patterned after birds or bats, recurred again and again over the next four centuries. His work has also highlighted his skill in music which we also encounter in his research notebooks. There is quite a bit of truth in the stories that Leonardo was a skilled poet, singer and practiced musician. He introduced his own musical instruments, by which he flattered the court of Milan and, in combination with his talent in speech and singing, he managed to captivate the people’s attention with his improvisations that he was often invited to share with the people at the court. There is no sound basis for the belief that Leonardo invented the violin though he certainly drew up plans for many new musical instruments including various flutes and the viola organist, a complicated keyboard instrument with strings which were sounded by the means of a wheel, horsehair strap and a bow which was never built. Leonardo tried to improve musical instruments by creating mechanisms that could enhance the tonal quality of the instruments. We should point out that his talents made him a good comedian as interpretations and hasty narratives were a widespread form of entertainment. So, he was highly valued due to his position and occupation, like all the producers, and in the meantime he would conquer all with his gracious and pleasant character. He soon made new friends, from the company of enthusiasts in the court who shared common goals and quests and made research a participatory and entertaining work.
“A beautiful body perishes, but a work of art dies not.”
Leonard was a person of “exceptional beauty and indescribable grace,” wrote Vazari, a historian of the time and the first Leonardo biographer.He was friendly and generous, and everyone liked his company. Contrary to the foggy landscape of Florence, he found a fertile environment for encounters and meetings.He was dressed in colored clothes shorter than usual and he was not afraid to emphasize his distinctiveness.He was interested in spiritual gain rather than in material wealth, and he did not hesitate to disapprove of those who focused on material goods. “Truly man is the king of beasts, for his brutality exceeds them. We live by the death of others. We are burial places! I have since an early age abjured the use of meat, and the time will come when men will look upon the murder of animals as they look upon the murder of man.” Sensitive to the animals, he was a vegetarian and he preferred to wear linens rather than clothes made by animals. One of his colleagues wrote after a trip to India that people there were not used to consume animals as several people in Florence, referring to Leonardo.In his labels, he mentions the difference of the animals from the plants, where, in contrast with the second, the animals could feel the pain of being killed for their skin or flesh. It is noted that his sensitivity reached such an extent that, at the bazaar, he freed the birds from their cages by paying the price to the person owning them.
Leonardo da Vinci and Salai, the little devil
One of Leonardo’s favored, who, despite all his defects, had been co-operating with him throughout his life was Salai or the little Devil, as he was called by Leonardo. He was his assistant, companion, student, and, at some point, his lover. He won the lifelong affection of his then nearly 40-year-old teacher as Leonardo found him irresistible. Vasari described the boy as “a graceful and beautiful youth, with fine curly hair in which Leonardo greatly delighted.” His name was Giacomo Caprotti but Leonardo changed Giacomo’s name to Salai, meaning little devil. It was a name that would stick with him for life. He came close to his teacher at the age of 10 and studied with Leonardo, who was then 38 years old. Even though Leonardo seldom writes personal notes in his notebooks, he wrote that, at a dinner where he had asked him to accompany him, he “ate for two and made damage for four.” He was accused of stealing and a series of small deceits, but Leonardo was having fun with his passions and continued to keep him in his company. Salai has often posed for Leonardo’s studies. He also often sketched drawings with an older man and a younger man.Sketch page 135.Throughout his life, Leonardo was dazzled with Salai with his rich curls which he liked to portray.Even in the last years of his life we find a vain portrait that he portrayed outof his memory. Leonardo and Salai stayed together for nearly 30 years and Da Vinci even remembered him in his will for his “good and kind services.”
The Vitruvian Man
What is the Vitruvian Man?
During his stay in Milan, Leonardo made great studies; one of the great achievements for which today he is world-renowned was the study of the Vitruvian Man. Marcus Vitruvius Pollio, born around 80 BC, served with the military duties of Julius Caesar.One of his precious teachings in history was the treatise on body proportions, a thorough description of the fact that the architecture of buildings must follow the proportions of the human body. Many have tried to paint and design this work, such as Jacomo Andrea, and Francesco di Tzortzo, but none touched Leonardo’s excellence and perfectionism. The Vitruvian Man of Leonardo, not only did he expose the writer’s promptings, but also proceeded to further observations of his own. He specified that “If you open your legs so much as to decrease your height 1/14 and spread and raise your arms till your middle fingers touch the level of the top of your head you must know that the center of the outspread limbs will be in the navel and the space between the legs will be an equilateral triangle. The length of a man’s outspread arms is equal to his height.” Leonardo drew the Vitruvian Man in 1492. Rendered in pen, ink, and metal point on paper, the piece depicts an idealized nude male standing within a square and a circle. Ingeniously, Leonardo chose to depict the man with four legs and four arms, allowing him to strike 16 poses simultaneously. Leonardo also made some corrections to the proposed descriptive design, such as that the tread does not fit six times at the height of the man’s height but seven. The sketch is said to be a self-portrait of the same, who was then 38 years old, and as he depicted in his writings:
“Every painter draws himself.”
The Unfinished Sculpture of Leonardo
Designed to reach seven meters in height and weighing seventy-five tons, The Equestrian Statue is a work like many of Leonardo that would never be finished. It was a towering equestrian monument that he planned to cast in bronze and it was one of the projects he proposed to take on when he first asked Ludovico for work in the early 1480s. So, at the court, in order to show the glory of Ludovico, he conceived the design of a brass rider and his horse. In order to find the posture of the rider and the animal and perfecting the monument’s glorious posture, he had to study the anatomy of the horse, an animal that he admired. He also studied other similar statues and was enchanted by the sense of movement that they would display. By that date, these monuments had not exceeded three and a half meters in height. He also managed to complete the horse’s mold, which would be made in a single piece that was a pioneer experiment for the time. Until then, the molds were crafted into pieces and were dissembled afterwards. He spent a lot of time studying over the anatomy of the sculpture, and the right compositions and mixtures of materials to achieve the best result. However the fate of the statue was not so promising after all. Finally, the unmade Horse was the work, more than any other, that epitomized Leonardo’s reputation as an artist who never finished anything.
The … misfortune of the monument
Leonardo did manage to complete a clay version of his statue but, due to the tensions of the time and the attacks by French troops in 1494, the metal that was going to be used in order to mold the statue was used in order to construct three cannons. In addition, the French archers used the great monument for target practice, destroying it completely. Legend has it that Leonardo mourned the loss of his horse up until his death. Anyway, we are unable to put the blame on the sculptor this time; however, he was not able to finish his work. Luckily for the modern world though, da Vinci left behind many detailed notes and images of his horse in his famous notebooks.
“He who wishes to be rich in a day will be hanged in a year.”
Working for Ludovico
The Equestrian Statue would realize his dream of creating the world’s largest equine monument as he was commissioned to do so by the Duke of Milan, Ludovico, who provided him with a salary and accommodation. In time, he would give him a vineyard just outside Milan, where it would be the place where he would test his flying machines in the future. That place was a property that he would keep until the end of his life. “Leonardo da Vinci, a mechanic and a painter,” was the title he managed to accomplish as this accomplishment was what he had been seeking for a long time. His salary could cover the cost of two assistants and four students who followed him and helped him accomplish his work. As such, with his reputation, his esteem and his strong connection to the court, he would enter the world of creation and he would enchant his encounters with his brilliant thinking.
Leonardo da Vinci as a scientist
Leonardo da Vinci was a renowned scientist, often ahead of his time with the scientific discoveries he made and the theories he formulated. As it is well known, this genius drew sketches and plans with perseverance and dedication on diverse issues. Based on research and experimentation, which he endorsed with theory and strengthened his results, he applied what he would note in his sketch book: “Those who are in love with practice without knowledge are like the sailor who gets into a ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast. Practice must always be founded on sound theory.” Although he never learned Latin, the spread of book printing written in the Italian language helped the theorization of his studies. He had in his possession over forty books of a variety of subjects and it is known that he borrowed a lot. We do not underestimate, in his evolution and his outgoing personality, the fact that the creator did not stop bombing his acquaintances with questions and outlining patterns of thought that must worry us, sharpening the imagination of the people around him… Thus, with this mixture of thesis and eagerness, Leonardo shaped his way into discoveries and revelations.
“The artist infuses his work with scientific data…”
With his studies of biology and civil engineering, astronomy and human anatomy, the Italian painter Leonardo da Vinci is the polymath we think of when describing a Renaissance man. The unmet curiosity of Leonardo improved his knowledge of the two dimensional representation of figures and machines, anatomy and geometry. He engaged in research by building of muscles and bones comparing the body of humans and that of the animals. He conceived and drew flying machines that were not intended for flight but were used to replicate machines that would be used in his theatrical performances were a puzzle that mattered to him. The possibility of a human flying drove him into the questioning of such machines, which was based on the observation of birds on flight and their anatomy. He notes. “Study the anatomy of a bird’s wings along with the muscles of the chest moving them. Do the same for man, so that you can see that it is possible to keep himself in the air with the movement of wings.” And he tried post-testing their construction by wearing a life jacket over water. He has worked in physics and mathematics and engineering to construct machines of various types such as needle making machines, hair milling machines, paper mills, watermills, water-powered engines to exploit perpetual water movement and much more. Leonardo, in a fruitful discussion with mathematics and geometry, he produced a series of studies on the area of shapes and the squaring of the circle. He had a skull that had been sliced so that it would be possible to observe it from the inside and had often sketched, trying to understand the functioning of the human body. He also studied the human analogy starting from the Vitruvius Man. As we study his efforts in science, we ask ourselves: How could a painter excel in such fields of knowledge? Perhaps because such learning improved both his art and the artist’s standing more generally. All this research in various fields was to him first and foremost a means to gaining knowledge of the visible world, such as he would need for his art.
“All knowledge which ends in words will die as quickly as it came to life, with the exception of the written word: which is its mechanical part.”
What was Da Vinci’s Scientific Method?
Da Vinci is often described as being a true Renaissance polymath, a person who wishes to understand all branches of knowledge. As such, Da Vinci he considered viewed scientific research as a complement to his researches in art and languages as well as to the study of theology. Thus, Da Vinci’s scientific method consisted of a mix of observation of the world around him and the physical experimentation. Da Vinci’s scientific endeavors were so ahead of his time that he has anticipated many devices that we consider to be ‘modern’.
Leonardo would cover some of his weaknesses in mathematics by his friend and colleague Luca Pacioli, a pedagogue and monk later on despite the fact that he never lived in a monastery. He wrote a manual in mathematics but written in the Italian language rather than in Latin as it was accustomed, in such a way he communicated widely his knowledge. Pacioli was invited by Ludovico to go to Milan to teach mathematics at Ludovico Sforza’s court. This invitation may have been made at the prompting of Leonardo da Vinci. Their genuine interest joined them in their puzzles and games such as making a coin drifting up and down in a glass but also mental games such as math games. At Milan, Pacioli and Leonardo quickly became close friends. Mathematics and art were topics which they discussed at length, both gaining greatly from the other. At this time Pacioli began work on the second of his two famous works, Divina proportione and the figures for the text were drawn by Leonardo. Leonardo learned about the theorems of Euclid, the Euclidean geometry, beside him and to manipulate the square roots. Probably from this encounter he also learned the golden ratio that we often find in Leonardo’s applications.
“Common Sense is that which judges the things given to it by other senses.”
Leonardo da Vinci considered as the Father of Sign Language
Leonardo, in his never-ending study of the human body, claimed that, in order to study human gestures and expressions, he must bear in mind the communication of deaf people who try to imply and express their thoughts. All these intense movements were an inspirational input to his research on human expression of feelings and intentions.
The Virgin of the Rocks
With this study of the two versions of the Virgin of the Rocks, one in the Louvre and the other in the National Gallery in London, the artist managed to express his insight in geology and botany besides demonstrating the deep study of expression – posture, shade and light. The original picture was undertaken by Leonardo not long after entering the service of Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan. The first version is painted by him and the second only with his contribution. After all, co-operation in art was something usual. The only difference in the two compositions is the angel’s hand, which is something the painter added afterwards, interposed between the hand of the Virgin Mary which is protectively extended over the head of the Divine Infant. The London version seems more correct as The Virgin of the Rocks in the National Gallery contains some details generally overlooked by the artist in the Louvre version, including the haloes of the figures, the child Saint John’s cross of reeds. This order, due to a price discrepancy, due to the costs being disproportionate to the agreed price, was never delivered. The piece of art was probably sold to another customer ending up in the Louvre. The second work of painting was never delivered as well. We are enchanted up to now by the angel figure in one of his drafts on the painting, showing his hermaphrodite stance.
The Portrait of a Musician
This work is unclear in many parts of its history. We do not know for sure who is portrayed, whether it was an order or if it was delivered. And as it will not surprise us if it was unfinished and we do not know why this was the case. It is not even sure ιf Leonardo himself did it. First of all, if indeed Leonardo was the painter, Portrait Of A Musician would be the only portrait he did of a man. Moreover, another issue that puzzled the academics was the fact that the shadows were very intense, and Leonardo preferred the soft shadows in his portraits. At the same time, the gaze is turned to the same direction as the body which he preferred not to use. Academics assume that the person posing for the portrait was the musician Atalante Miglioroti, who accompanied him a few years ago on his journey to Milan and taught him how to play the lyre. Since he did not work or keep lists of his works, it is difficult to know with certainty which works belong to him with confidence. Anyway, what makes this piece of artwork a possible Leonardo da Vinci? The answer probably lies in the common characteristics which exist in each of his portraiture works, such as:
- The backgrounds are left in shadow;
- The figures are shown at half-length or slightly more;
- The subjects are carefully positioned at a three-quarter turn so as to improve viewer identification of the sitter;
- The artist understood perfectly the bone structure beneath the flesh and
- The pose was enforced with the details of the exquisitely curling hair and the elegant fingers.
All these elements were very common to Leonardo’s work. This work was left unfinished, though at quite an advanced stage, something typical of Leonardo… However, the face and hair appear well worked and the remaining elements were left in the state of an advanced draft.
“Nature never breaks her own laws.”
The Lady with An Ermine
Sparkles us even today for the magical photographing of the moment, a pre-decided and pre-directed portrait, which portrays the concept of surprise by the unexpectedly appearing Ludovico. The subject of the portrait is identified as the mistress of Lodovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, and mother of his illegitimate child and Leonardo was in the service of the Duke. Although he was in love with her, he was married to Beatrice d’Este. Nevertheless, he arranged her marriage to a count and she was absorbed by her reading and literary arts. After seven years Leonardo’s stay in Milan, this was his first order, and he executed it in a masterful way. In this work it is obvious how the secondary light that comes from the ermine illuminates the face of the portrayed person. Lady with an Ermine has been heavily over painted. The entire background was darkened, her dress below the ermine was retouched and a transparent veil being worn by the woman was repainted to match the color of her hair. The result of this last retouching has been to give the appearance that her hair reaches down and underneath her chin. Yet another change was the addition of dark shadows between the fingers of her right hand. There is no doubt that the Lady with an Ermine is a captivating image of exquisite elegance and reveals the artistic genius of Leonardo da Vinci’s incomparable creative mind.
La Belle Feroniniere of Leonardo da Vinci
The second order that Leonard received from Ludovico is the portrait of Lucrezia Crivelli, who, like Cecilia Gallerani, was his illustrious mistress and also gave birth to his son. Its excessively bright jaw and the dull way the hair is painted, makes some researchers doubt whether Leonardo contributed in the painting or whether it was due to the interference of others, like an apprentice. Another possible answer is that this was a joint project carried out by several artists at the School of Leonardo, and based on a design by him. So, academics are not sure whether this may, or may not be, Leonardo’s work. The fact is that the pose is stiff, which would be unusual for Leonardo, and the woman’s features are thicker and heavier than those normally found in his portraits.
La Bella Principessa of Leonardo da Vinci
This painting was discovered by Peter Silverman at an art auction of nineteenth century art, assumed to be drawn by a German artist who imitated the Italian Renaissance. And it was rescued by the great art-history adventurer. Is this a Leonardo da Vinci? Another work we are not sure whether this may, or may not be, Leonardo’s work. It is a portrait in coloured chalks and ink, on vellum, of a young lady in fashionable costume and hairstyle of a Milanese of the 1490s. The attribution to Leonardo da Vinci has been disputed. There are elements that strengthen the contradicting views. On the one hand, the origin of the style of hairdressing and clothing, presumes the influences from Florence for the first and Milan for the second, the areas where the artist lived. It is also known that the sketch was part of a set that contributed to a book piece. The story goes a long way with the assumption that Leonardo’s fingerprint was found who was using his fingers to practice the technique that dictated the sfumato. Infrared rays also showed the artist’s left-handed touch. However, the shadows depicting this princess are too strict to be crafted by Leonardo.
The Trend of Leonardo da Vinci
Pacolli reports that Leonardo edited the portfolio of “About Painting and Human Movement”, which he practiced until the last years of his life, and, as he did with his paintings, this is another work he never published or completed. These manuscripts reveal that the science of art turned into an art of science and a delightful insight into his research. He explored the light and his reflections on the molding of the models. The gradation of tones, in order to create shadows, was genius and he studied the perspective in order to create real masterpieces.
“Beyond a doubt truth bears the same relation to falsehood as light to darkness”.
The Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci
In 1495, Leonardo da Vinci began what would become one of history’s most influential works of art – The Last Supper. The Last Supper was completed in 1498, when, upon the order of the Duke, Leonardo delivered the work finished on the north wall of Monastery in the heart of Milan, the Santa Maria de la Gracie. Testimonies of the time say that Leonardo “came here in the early hours and climbed to the scaffolding and then stayed there with the brush in hand from sunrise to sunset forgetting to eat or drink, drawing non-stop.” Other times, he appeared in the middle of the day, and “he climbed on the scaffolding, he grabbed a brush, put a brush stroke on one or two of the figures and then left suddenly.” He explained in his letter to the Duke who was worried about a potential delay of the painting’s delivery, that one should proceed slowly, to stop and postpone things so that thoughts ripen. And he notes that “the clever people achieve more while they work less.” The Last Supper is Leonardo’s visual interpretation of an event chronicled in all four of the Gospels (books in the Christian New Testament). It depicts the next few seconds in this story after Christ dropped the bomb shell that one disciple would betray him before sunrise, showing how all twelve disciples have reacted to the news with different degrees of horror, anger and shock. Leonardo masterfully depicts a drama where all the actors converge in their theatricality with their own movements and expressions. He manages to capture the movement of the soul – moti dell ‘ anima, by reflecting on the intentions they have in mind. The Twelve Disciples, the Apostles of Christ, are divided into groups of three, orchestrating an interesting rhythm in his subject. Judas is shaded more sharply, testifying his guilt, and feminine-like Saint John is said to symbolize Mary Magdalene. In spite of the intensity of the scene, Christ stands patient and serene in the middle of the composition and conveys the viewer’s gaze. The project is a genius composition that excels in the laws of perspective and the rules of physics. The painting was made using experimental pigments directly on the dry plaster wall and unlike frescoes, where the pigments are mixed with the wet plaster, it has not stood the test of time well. Even before it was finished there were problems with the paint flaking from the wall and Leonardo had to repair it. However, just twenty years after the project’s delivery, the paint began to shake, and Leonardo’s experimental design and testing of materials failed. Today we can only see fragments of the wall painting by the addition of restoration of the missing pieces with a lighter color than that of the original.
The Death of Leonardo da Vinci’s mother
In 1497, three years after her husband’s death and the death of her son by the arrow of a crossbow, Katerina moved to Milan to live with Leonardo. Three months later she died of malaria, before attempting to shake the waters of the artist’s life. Leonardo, in his notes, had a detailed list of the expenses for her funeral and interment, a decent ceremony with many candles and four priests; however he spent less compared to the amount he spent for a sari for Salai, as we will see later on his balance sheets.
Time for change… again…
Due to the professional difficulties that Leonardo was facing in the courtyard of the Duke who refused to compensate him for his work and due to the fact that his horse statue was transformed into a firing target for the French troops, Leonardo was deeply dissatisfied. The political upheaval wanted Louis XIII of France to be the conqueror of Milan and the Duke to leave the city. Leonardo had smooth relationships with the French conquerors and he had opened some discussions about cooperation. Indeed, Louis XII, in the glance of the Last Supper, expressed the desire to move the work to France, but the engineer responded that it was technically impossible. So Leonardo decided to return home, in Florence, where it would be around 1500 and would become one of his most productive seasons.
Leonardo da Vinci…Travel to Florence
So, after the fall of Ludovico Sforza, his patron in Milan, Leonardo returned to Florence, the city of his youth. Florence had undergone some political and social changes as Leonardo was pursuing his art career in Milan. The brief acquisition of power by Girolamo Savonarola, head of a religious struggle, downplayed a Puritan rule in the city where homosexuals and sodomy was punished with stoning or death in the fire. Eventually, the public condemned him to hanging by liberating the spirits of the city, which due to all this was covered by a veil of reduced self-confidence and vitality. In this spirit of change, Leonardo returned to his birth town to embody the message of diversity and artistic estrus. Within a year Leonardo was back in Florence, where he was commissioned to paint a huge mural, the Battle of Anghiari, in the Palazzo della Signoria. He worked on that painting for the next three years, while he was also making maps for the Florentine government and was beginning the Mona Lisa as well as a painting of Leda and the Swan. He tried to reestablish himself as a painter, but was reported to be preoccupied with geometry and ‘very impatient with the brush’. It is worth mentioning that in 1506 the French occupiers of Milan requested that Leonardo return to Milan, and for the next two years he traveled repeatedly between Milan and Florence.
A Stop at Mantua while he was going back to Florence
On his trip he stopped at Mantua where Isabella d’Este asked him to paint her portrait. This famous drawing is a sketch for the portrait that was never painted. However, later on, she asked Leonardo to make another portrait of the chalk drawing. After a total rejection of all other artists, Leonardo was believed that he was the most appropriate person to make her portrait. It would have the side stance that was widespread for the depiction of rulers, a posture that uninterested Leonardo. He used to set his models in place of three quarters a position that allowed them to express their feelings and their minds, their psychologies. So despite the years of perseverance of the Duchess, the prosperous artist had conquered a position in society which allowed him to politely reject the noble orders if the subject did not interest him, like the Isabella portrait that would never even begin to initiate. Anyway, it is one of Leonardo’s finest head-and-shoulders portraits, here with the head in profile. It is also the only known drawing that is highlighted with several colored pigments. Though unfinished, this sketch is remarkable for its proportions, and for the foreshortening of the bust; it is also striking for the ambiguous choice of pose. The perfectly linear profile, eyes gazing beyond our field of vision, contrasts with the turn of the body.
Da Vinci’s life around 50
In Florence, Leonardo has his own status and fame and so did his family. He was wealthy and he could support the followers and his students. He could choose his work, and deal with things that interest him like the flight of birds, resulting in lurking in the fields and studying. He did not hide his diversity, and he was used to take care of his clothes with lacy and velvet mantles in pink colors for himself and for Salai. As much as he spent on his appearance, he was looking forward to spending for his spiritual growth, hence his books reached 116 volumes, focusing on perspective, Euclidean geometry, medicine and architecture.
Madonna of the Yarnwinder or The Virgin Mary with the Spindle
This version of the Virgin with Jesus was for Leonardo to shape his masterpiece like an inspiration to Rafael and all the painters all over Europe. In this picture, the Infant Jesus holds a spinning wheel in the form of a cross, which symbolizes his acceptance of his destiny. Madonna, according to the plot of the picture, cannot yet accept the destiny of her divine son for the heart, and therefore the hand of the Virgin Mary is raised in a protective gesture. Both figures are painted with wit, and their hands to impart the emotion and historiography of the story. A close look shows this work was based around the geometric figures of triangles and ellipses. However, we are not sure if this piece of work was made by Leonardo; researchers believe that Leonardo da Vinci only started the painter and that it was finished the pupils of his studio since the production in his studio was loud and the copies made in the studio he opened in Florence numbered forty. However, a beam study showed that the work was painted on the wood directly without a blueprint that only Leonardo could decide on, and some corrections were made to the drawing testifying that it was not a copy but an original painting drawn by the artist himself.
“The spirit desires to remain with its body, because, without the organic instruments of that body, it can neither act, nor feel anything.”
The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne
From this study, we have an incomplete homonymous work that is now in the Louvre, and a magical sketch drawing in London, that is kept and presented in low light to limit the wear and tear of time. Both works are examples of Leonardo’s ability to dramatically and mechanically direct his figures, the use of the sfumato technique and the perspective of the distance of the objects, his delicate shadowing and his knowledge of geology. The famous painting “The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne” offers a glimpse into the subconscious of Leonardo da Vinci. The painting depicts the Virgin Mary guarding baby Jesus and peacefully sitting on the lap of her mother, St. Anne. Christ is petting a small lamb, which is the symbol of his suffering and sacrifice for the benefit of mankind and the Holly Infant embraces and will not let anyone part him from it. The positions of biblical figures in historical paintings are never random; they are always allusions to the lives of the figures and of various Christian metaphors. The painting, as expected, was never delivered, and it was left in Leonardo’s possession who kept on adding things and improving it for years. Freud in his study of Leonardo will examine the fact that Christ has two mothers, as Leonardo had two mothers Katerina and his step mother. He also hypothesized that there was a reminiscence of da Vinci’s own “two mothers.” Moreover, in his psychoanalytic examination of “The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne,” titled “Leonardo da Vinci and A Memory of His Childhood,” Freud revealed hypothetical details of da Vinci’s childhood and repressed sexual desire. He discovered that if the painting is turned sideways, the shaped made by one of the Virgin Mary’s garments depicts a bird, most likely a vulture. Freud claimed that the symbol of the vulture is da Vinci’s representation of his repressed homosexual desire from his childhood, which was triggered by his faint memory of him sucking his mother’s nipple as an infant. Freud supported his theory with the fact that the ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs depicted the term “mother” with the symbol of a vulture.
Leda and the Swan of Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo was very absorbed with the theme of Leda. Leonardo da Vinci’s painting, Leda and the Swan, is a depiction of the Greek myth concerning Leda, a daughter of the King of Aetolia, and Zeus, the king of the gods. It shows the moment when Zeus, saw Leda and he was so smitten by her beauty that he changed into a swan and coupled with her. Leda gave birth to two eggs, and each egg hatched twin babies. In the image, Leda looks down tenderly upon her babies, while the curves of her body stand in counterpoint to the sinuous lines of the swan, its head resting upon her shoulder. The flowers that Leda holds in her hand are a symbol of purity. It’s a lost work by Leonardo, the only one depicting an erotic content; although by examining the painting more carefully, we realize that the issue for the artist was the reproduction and fertility. The representation and the copy of the painting are preserved by Frantsesco Melsi, a student of Leonardo who had defined him as his modern heir. The multiple copies found in his studio and other records of the time are attributed to him being able to create the work himself. The story says that Madame de Maintenon, the mournful and hidden Second Lady of the Ludwig XII, destroyed the painting because it was scandalously erotic. This assertion is not imputed.
The Savior of the World of Leonardo da Vinci
On the 15th of November 2017, Leonardo Da Vinci’s painting, ‘Salvator Mundi’, (The Savior of the World) smashed artwork auction records when it was sold for US$ 450.3 million. With careful investigations and cleaning from deep varnish wipers, they revealed elements that attribute the work as a true achievement of Leonardo, along with the testimonies of the time that the artist had made such a work. However, art historians agree that it was painted around 1500, but disagree on whether or not it was painted by Da Vinci. The painting depicts Christ in Renaissance dress, making the sign of the cross with his right hand, while holding a transparent, non-refracting crystal orb in his left, signaling his role as ‘Savior of the World’ and representing the ‘celestial sphere’ of the heavens. The foggy heavens of Jesus, along with the use of the chromatic perspective, give us the impression that Jesus’ hands tend to us. It is a reflection of the scholars that how comes and Leonardo did not, after his profound study in the optics, portray the transformation and diffusion of the image through a crystal or a prism. Rather, he assumed that this would bury the viewer’s eye and preferred to capture it without the reflection.
On Cesare’s services
After twenty years since he had presented himself as a war engineer before Ludovico, it was meant for him to finally take this position for an eight-month period next to the tyrant Cesare Borgia. Between 1502 and 1503, Leonardo served as his chief military architect and engineer. In the service of the unscrupulous conqueror that wiped out villages and ordered the execution of potential rivals publicly, Leonardo would have carried out numerous inquiries that would reveal the avid enthusiasm and inventiveness. Borgia needed an engineer who could ford rivers with bridges, build siege engines to subdue recalcitrant towns, and fortify them once they’d been captured. Leonardo leapt at the opportunity but his work for the rapacious Cesare Borgia did not last long. The incessant massacres of Borgia persuaded Leonardo to resign his commission and return to Florence. Freud, in his analysis on the character of Leonardo, points out that the artist was attracted by strong and leading figures that were a substitute for his dynamic father, who ruled Leonardo with his absence.
During the time he spent in Florence, he was invited to investigate and perform projects on the irrigation and the diversion of Arno River as well as the drying of Piombino swamps. Both projects were not carried out, but they testify Leonardo’s insight and his sketches touched the borders of imagination of the time, all of which have now been tested; there were also experiments in flying machines, diving suits and more. He also envisioned the realization of a floating passage from Florence to the Mediterranean. His studies on plumbing are based on the collaboration of engineer with nature. As he remarks: “The river that one is going to divert and change its course he must embrace it and not to handle it with harshly or with violence.” By studying the modern systems of water supply in Milan, he aimed to improve the system in Florence, but since the public funds had been drained at the time, he did not manage to realize some of his exuberant plans.
Michelangelo, two geniuses in the same city
In the absence of Leonardo in Milan, Michelangelo, a young painter evolved into an artistic genius and would later on leave his mark in history too. He was more arrogant and peculiar than Leonardo and did not share Leonardo’s beauty, neither was he appreciated by his surroundings. He came in rivalry with many colleagues and artists of his time, even with Leonardo himself. Michelangelo and Leonardo felt “an intense dislike for each other,” says their biographer Vasari. When Leonardo invited him to comment on the findings of a conversation about a passage of Dante, he thought he was mocking him and he was trying to entrap him and he immediately reproached him and offensively accused him for the unsuccessful completion of his giant horse. “…explain it yourself, horse-modeller that you are, who, unable to cast a statue in bronze, were forced to give up the attempt in shame”. Then, he turned his back on them and left. Leonardo remained silent and blushed at these words. Both were homosexuals, but unlike Leonardo, Michelangelo did not show his sexual orientation and love preferences and he was possibly self-inflicted on celibacy. He was an ascetic painter with his only companion melancholy, as he noted later. Leonardo often referred to Michelangelo’s sculptural representations as “sacks of walnuts” because of the elaborate muscly representation of his design. Although Leonardo was not accustomed to criticize other painters, he openly underestimated Michelangelo’s work. “You do not have to make all the muscles of a body distinct … as you will create a sack of walnuts instead of a human form.” The two men, Leonardo, a charming, handsome fifty year-old at the peak of his career, and the youngest Michelangelo, a temperamental artist in his mid-twenties who was desperate to make a name for himself, would stay under the same roof for the completion of two historic giant frescoes that they both would never complete.
The Colossal Fresco
The Battle of Anghiari was an assignment that would mark the magnificence of his painting skill and research for the Sala del Gran Consiglio, the recently rebuilt Great Council Hall of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, during the first years of the city’s republican government.. It is known to us only through some drawings he crafted while studying it. It would take one third of a wall that was 53 meters, a gigantic work that would be a reminiscence of Florence’s glorious victory in the fight with Milan. The battle scene that Leonardo planned was a layout of horses with twisted grimaces and fierce riders that stepped on losing fighters. He wrote: “There must be no point that does not reveal torture and that it is not drenched with blood.” The furious sketches he created, depicted the odor and the terror of war, pointing to his deepening in anatomy where the expressions of the mouth effect the positioning of the nose and the eyebrows. The difficulties he faced during the process stood in vain for the termination of his involvement with the work. Since then, the painter would not accept any other public order…
“Our life is made by the death of others.”
The death of his father
His father’s death took place when he was trying to perform the painting of The Battle of Anghiari. Piero never recognized him as his legitimate son, although he helped him achieve at least three orders but with tight contracts and the condition to complete the paintings, which Leonardo often did not. This surely created tensions between them. Piero married four times and, with his two youngest brides, younger than Leonardo, he had nine sons and two daughters. He had many of these legitimate children when he was over seventy years old. Later on, Leonardo would have inheritance issues with his step brothers and sisters about an estate just outside Vinci, which would remain in Leonardo’s possession but after his death it would pass on to their children. Βy not legitimizing him as his son, Piero was like as he was renouncing him. He might have done this because he considered him successful, although he did not have the financial power to support the team that followed him.However it was an occurrence that was surely not pleasing to Leonardo.
Return to Milan
In 1506, two years after his father’s death, he returned to Milan where he remained for the next seven years, enjoying the patronage of Charles d’Amboise, the French Governor of Milan, and King Louis XII. He initially sought to do the work of a mechanic and a researcher along with that of a painter as he had been recruited by Ludovico. We should not forget that in Milan he was extremely dear and acceptable to his circles. Ludovico himself would have liked to release him from his contract of The Battle of Anghiari by his Florentine contenders who insisted that the artist should return to the city. Leonardo, for the second time, left a great work in the middle while leaving for Milan, as he did, twenty-four years ago, with The Proclamation of the Magi. However, this was a period in which Leonardo delved heavily into scientific activities, which included anatomical, mathematics, mechanical, and botanical studies and the creation of his famous flying machine. Moreover, notable commissions during this period included work on a bridge building, and a project to create a waterway to link Milan with Lake Como. He also devised efficient military weapons, such as an early example of the machine gun, and his famous large crossbow.
Review of Florence
For him, Florence was an image of bohemian life, a life full of artists, a place where he did not seek to become only a painter but also an inventor and to test all of his many talents. At the same time, being away in Milan, he avoided competitors like Michelangelo, his half-brothers who were young enough to be his children as well as the ‘ghost’ of his father. However, his researches, during his stay in Florence, were very creative: he dissected the body of a dead man, tried one of his flying machines and his diving inventions, and his notebooks were full of geology studies, notes referring to the perspective, the anatomy and the architecture.
Leonardo and Francesco Melzi
Around 1507, Leonardo, 55, adopted Francesco Melzi, a fourteen-year-old boy who was thought as he was his son. Drawn to the arts, though, he never became a great painter since he had a more timid nature, certainly less naughty than Salai. Meltsi will become his student, his heir and secretary. Together with Salai, they would stay by his side until the end of his life, and it would be him the person who inherited the artistic and scientific works, manuscripts, and collections of Leonardo. The mature Leonardo now had the need of an heir, a son, to be an apprentice for him and follow him.
“Our body is dependant on Heaven and Heaven on spirit”
Leonardo performed an autopsy in at least 30 bodies throughout his entire life, and he wrote thousands of words on the anatomy of the human body as well as on that of the animals. He made his first experiments on an elderly man who claimed to be over a hundred years old as well as on a two-month-old baby and he compared both results. He pointed out: “The network of veins behaves in man as in oranges, in which the skin hardens and the flesh decreases as time passes.” He filled his sketchbooks with bones and muscles in different positions drawn from different angles and drew a manual that would be very helpful in science if it had been published. He studied various topics such as the spine’s curvature, the heart that looked like a fruit whose roots resemble our venous system, the aortic valve and the fetus. And even though in his time the dissection was considered a heresy act, Leonardo claimed that it was a way of appreciating the miraculous creation of God. He did not hesitate to symbolize the human body with his mechanical studies and admired the way the human body could work. He wrote: “Besides human ingenuity being able to lead to various inventions, it will never devise anything that is more beautiful, more simple and more complete to what Nature has created, where nothing is missing and nothing is in excess.” In his anatomical studies, he was preoccupied by the muscles that are responsible for the human smile and expression, and taught that the numbers of the muscles that move the lips are more to man compared to any other animal. This study, as well as the essence of his knowledge, contributed greatly to the unique smile of Mona Lisa. He is the only artist in history to have dissected the human and horse face to see if the muscles that move the face are the same or not.
Other areas of research
During the period that he was in Milan for the second time, we may find in his textbooks a vivid curiosity about a variety of topics. He reviewed opinions, deepened others, defended older thoughts, and the result was a series of vigorous notes on engineering, on waterways and whirlpools, on fossils, on astrology, and on why the sky is blue. He did not hesitate to compare the human body with the earth and its functions and he claimed that emotions as the sound and the light transmitted through waves.
In the Medici House
He undertook some anatomic studies with the surgeon Marcantonio della Torre, who had been left in the middle due toa swine fever the doctor received. This was unpleasant for him since his studies had been under way and possibly he would help him to publish the findings of his researches. Waiting for the epidemic to pass through, he settled in the provincial estate of Medici, where he spent his sixtieth birthday together with his son Medici, who had been counting over twenty-one years, and Salai was thirty-two years old. In this quiet resort, he would have attempted some dissections on animals as he continued his studies on geology with the possibility of publishing them, something he never did.
A stop in Rome
In 1512, the French began to lose control of Milan, and Leonardo decided to avoid this political turmoil finding shelter in Rome, under the protection of his new patron, Giuliano, a lover of art and science, who had set up, in Rome, a circle of scholars and artists where Leonardo would become a member of. He would have a permanent salary that would free Leonardo from order hunting, and he would stay in the rooms that he provided for him. It was a delightful period in the artist’s life where he could share his knowledge with other scholars and he could explore the rare botany findings of the area and study the prismatic surfaces. His interest in them was profound as they could also serve as war machines.
St. John the Baptist
St. John the Baptist was painted by Leonardo da Vinci during 1513 to 1516. This is an oil painting on walnut wood. This piece of work is one of the paintings that he would keep under his possession until the end of his life, fixing it and adding touches until his death. The pointing gesture of St. John toward the heavens suggests the importance of salvation through baptism that John the Baptist represents. This posture marked Leonardo and it is the posture by which Raphael painted him, suggesting Plato pointing his finger to the sky. This work, as elsewhere, indicates Leonardo’s explicit eroticism as he gave a delight of the flesh and a feminine man figure, recognized as hermaphroditism, even on the holy figures. Many people are critical of this work since this was a character living in a desert and surviving on a diet of locusts and honey. In Leonardo’s painting St. John the Baptist seems almost to be a hermaphrodite. He has a womanish arm bent across his breast, his finger raised towards heaven, and that same enigmatic smile so admired on the face of Mona Lisa. The finger pointed towards heaven could denote the coming of Christ or it could be the sign of esoteric significance.
“Painting is concerned with all the 10 attributes of sight; which are: Darkness, Light, Solidity and Colour, Form and Position, Distance and Propinquity, Motion and Rest.”
Leonardo da Vinci’s portraits
Leonardo’s most famous portrait is the Turin Portrait. Skeptic and exhausted in spiritual manipulation with a grimace on the lips and rather melancholic as in all of the portraits that depict the artist. They indicate that he is some years older but rather this was the reality. Leonardo seemed elder than what he really was, embracing an image of wisdom with his long beard and long hair.
He started painting Mona Lisa, also known as La Gioconda, in 1503 when he was still in the service of Cesare Borgia, and he would take it with him on all his journeys until his last residence in France where he would add strokes by completing his masterpiece. Mona Lisa is a painting that Leonardo Da Vinci spent many years developing and improving as he could not feel entirely satisfied with his work, but saw enough qualities to motivate him to persevere over a long period. Vasari in a bold description of the work notes that “it really seemed not to be of colors but of flesh. At the bottom of the neck, if you look at it very closely, you could see the beat of her pulse. ” An avid portrait, which Leonardo rendered the complexity of human emotion and the gentle beauty of the most mysterious smile in the history of Art. This painting is painted as oil on wood. It is a remarkable instance of Leonardo’s sfumato technique of soft, heavily shaded modeling. The Mona Lisa‘s enigmatic expression, which seems both alluring and aloof, has given the portrait universal fame.
Probably Piero recommended Leonardo for this order, as he had close relations with the Giocondo family. Francesco del Giocondo, a silk merchant who supplied the Medici court, was wealthy enough but not an aristocrat, so he had no absurd demands for the portrait. Being in love with his wife, he asked Leonardo to make her portrait and Leonardo accepted. He took up the offer despite the fact that he had to take over many orders at the time, like the one of Isabella d’Este. He accepted this job because he would be free to do what he wanted with the painting, and it was also hard to deny depicting her cute smile. This was another order that would never reach its original destination.
“There are four Powers: memory and intellect, desire and covetousness. The two first are mental and the others sensual. The three senses: sight, hearing and smell cannot well be prevented; touch and taste not at all.”
The Table paint of Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo imputed all of his mastery and his condensed knowledge in this painting from his studies of light and anatomy and the result justified him. Even the preparation is made out of lead that leaves the color and light more comfortable on the surface. He has applied the rules of optics and perspective, and her hands seem to be really close to the observer and even if the outlines are still blurred with the supreme application of his Sfumato technique, while the background lengthens in the background. He has succeeded in lighting his model, and applies his principle of making a portrait in dull light when the weather is rainy or when the light falls in the evening. His insight to the rules of seeing is spectacular as the pupils of the eyes are uneven, an observation that certainly could not escape from Leonardo. Stylish techniques are also noted in the imitation of the creases of the girl’s dress. We should not forget that the portrait was meant to be delivered to a silk dealer first and that he was a distinguished Verrocchio pupil who has, since then shown, his skills in the folds of fabrics. Moreover, the discrete veil that the girl wears on the head and covers her hair what gentle fluctuations it makes with the background, untainted. The scenery enfolds the figure and looks like it is drawn to it, a union with the nature and landscape that only Leonardo could accomplish after his far-reaching studies. It is a landscape that holds in the depths of science and fantasy. The earth seems to be spinning along with Lisa’s trunk and seems to have a light posture. The Mona Lisa is famed for two things: her enigmatic smile and her steady gaze, widely believed to follow her viewers around the room. Indeed, this world-renowned painting inspired the name of a scientific phenomenon: the Mona Lisa effect, or the impression that the eyes of the person in an image follow the viewer as they move in front of the picture, does not actually work for Leonardo’s portrait. As regards the Mona Lisa smile, no matter how long you look at it, it looks very intense and deeply dim, which when we stop looking at it, it is deeply engraved in our memory. Extremely thin lashes of Mona Lisa’s mouth are lightly pushed downwards, but if we notice this smile with our peripheral vision it is illuminating the whole face, forming this detached smile. A fusion of in-depth knowledge and persistence in study for years contributes to this work that its brush strokes are so thin that they are hardly visible. A project that has at some points more than thirty layers of paint is now admired in the museum of the Louvre.
Leonardo da Vinci in France – The Final Journey
In autumn of 1516, Leonardo started his final trip to France, invited by the French King, who would be his most consistent patron and would admire him much too. The French King invited Leonardo to the royal summer home, Château du Clos Lucé, near Amboise. More generally, in a review of his life, he constantly escaped to find a patron and he had not always been lucky to do so, nor did the King of the Medici have supported him in Florence, and sent him to Milan with a lyre for a diplomatic gift, nor did he succeed in Milan get some orders until very late.His reputation and his inscriptions helped him to accomplish this goal and managed to spend the last years of his life with comfort and a safety and vigorous insistence on his work to the end. In his 60s, da Vinci travelled across the mountains from northern Italy to central France, carrying with him sketchbooks and unfinished artwork. The young French king had hired the Renaissance master as “The King’s First Painter, Engineer and Architect.” Leonardo lived in the rehabilitated Medieval fortress from 1516 until his death in 1519. From 1515 on a trip to Bologna he had met the then twenty-one-year-old King of France, Francis I, who had invited him to France. Although he returned to Rome for the closing of some cases, he did not take a while into taking that step when he was sixty-four years old. His companions that came to France, was less a follower. Salai stayed in Milan, but Leonardo had another new servant, Batista de Vilanis, much younger than Salai. Together with him, he took all three of his works found in his possession at his death, “The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne”, “Saint John the Baptist” and “Mona Lisa”.
Francis was generous and devoted, charismatic and gentle, educated and a scholar. Leonardo was a good companion, and so was Francis to Leonardo. He loved the arts and science and aspired to bring the Renaissance art to France and somehow he managed to do so. He was extroverted to people and liked the theatrical performances staged for him. Leonardo was the best candidate for his court, as he was a perfect student to Leonardo. Like an ideal patron, he gave him a salary and a whole castle to stay, he did not insist on finishing his paintings, he needed engineering and architecture knowledge, which satisfies Leonardo, as well as organizing theatrical performances. Above all, for Francis, Leonardo was a source of inexhaustible scholarly knowledge and Leonardo could teach him a lot of things. They spent hours together that prevented unfortunately Leonardo from advancing his studies, but they talked about astronomy, mechanics, architecture, poetry and music. Francis put Château du Clos Lucé, a beautiful castle five hundred meters from the royal palace at Leonardo’s disposal as this castle was very spacious to accommodate majestically all of Leonardo’s team.
Antonio de Beattis
The visit of Priest de Beattis is beneficial to the next generations because it provides us with information that we draw from his diary for the elder Leonardo. In particular, he underlines that he is “the most prominent painter of the time.” Leonardo, though he had not completed his Florentine orders, had managed to form this image of his personality as an artist and painter. He tells us that he looks older than he is and that he had suffered a stroke and his right hand was paralyzed. Luckily, left-handed Leonardo would not suffer from it and he would still be creative. He also presents the information that Leonardo was proudly displaying the three masterpieces he had in his possession, as well as some of his notes in anatomy.
The French King François I commissioned a great work to Leonardo: to design the city of Romorantin from scratch. He called on Leonardo to design and build an entire new city in Romorantin and make this rather small city into the new capital of a blossoming French kingdom. In 1517, on a visit to the city, they designed the palace and their exceptional architectural ideas and Leonardo began to work. He designed a three-store palace with spacious rooms large enough to welcome the whole court and host large theater performances. His obsession with the water found a passage and enriched his imagination so that he could design watering systems as well as the diversion of the river flowing to Romorantin, lakes, fountains and more. Leonardo’s design of the city is based on a dynamic concept of managing flows of water, air, energy, and human cognition. He designed an ideal city that was centuries ahead of its time. This plan was something nature did not allow Leonardo to fulfill, due to his death, and the king would build his new castle in Château de Cloux. The only thing we could point out for this idea of Leonardo is that Leonardo might have changed the shape of modern cities as he wanted a comfortable and spacious city, with well-ordered streets and architecture and recommended “high, strong walls” and places taking full advantage of the interior and exterior spaces.
The last note
The last page that Leonardo left us is filled with geometry and mathematics experiments. He attempts to change the area of an orthogonal triangle by changing its sides. He presents some variations and next to his thought she closes his note by saying that he is stopping to write because “the soup is cold.” This is an indication to Leonardo’s personality, as he would trouble himself with great puzzles and complex topics, however he would note things that happen parallel to his life that give us a notion of how clever witty and humorous he was.
“I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have.”
The end of Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo died in Amboise on 2 May 1519, only nine days before he drafted his will. He was quite sick and knew he would die and wanted to protect his followers and his property. Medici was also responsible for the execution of Leonardo’s will, as he was his main heir as his son in law. He left half of the vineyard in Milan to Salai, since they were alienated for some time and the other half to his young servant and companion Batista de Vilanis, as well as some other possessions and his furniture. His step brothers got from him the estate at Vinci, as it had been agreed earlier. “As a well-spent day brings a pleasant sleep, so a well-spent life brings a pleasant death” he had said thirty years earlier, and as he was so full of life and adventures, Leonardo left at the age of seventy-seven. He died in the hands of the King and his patron, a scene that has become the theme of many painters. Francis I received his final breaths. Giorgio Vasari, who was not present, says that Leonardo “smiled” towards Christianity and the Holly virtuous road at the end of his life, and that he confessed a few hours before he died. This is the information that Vasari pointed out, aiming to present a more pious Leonardo. However, the genius considered scientific knowledge superior to religious belief. Leonardo was buried in the royal palace, but the current location of his relic remains a mystery.
Quotes and Mottos of Leonardo da Vinci
See the collection of Leonardo da Vinci’s quotes and mottos by clicking on this link: Leonardo da Vinci Quotes Collection This was an analysis of Leonardo da Vinci’s personality and life. If you want to find out which personality you belong to or what kind of Motto suits you, click on the link below: Motto Personality Test by Motto Cosmos
Get inspired from Leonardo da Vinci most important quotes and mottos:
- Tears come from the heart and not from the brain.
- It’s easier to resist at the beginning than at the end.
- The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.
- Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.
- Learning never exhausts the mind.
- Water is the driving force of all nature.
- Why does the eye see a thing more clearly in dreams than the imagination when awake?
- Art is never finished, only abandoned.
- Nature is the source of all true knowledge. She has her own logic, her own laws, she has no effect without cause nor invention without necessity.
- Where the spirit does not work with the hand, there is no art.
- The greatest deception men suffer is from their own opinions.
- Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.
- All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.
- Poor is the pupil who does not surpass his master.
- Who sows virtue reaps honor.
- Every action needs to be prompted by a motive.
- The natural desire of good men is knowledge.
- There are three classes of people: those who see, those who see when they are shown, those who do not see.
- In rivers, the water that you touch is the last of what has passed and the first of that which comes; so with present time.
- Just as courage is the danger of life, so is fear its safeguard.
- Where there is shouting, there is no true knowledge.
- Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.
- Medicine is the restoration of discordant elements; sickness is the discord of the elements infused into the living body.
- A beautiful body perishes, but a work of art dies not.
- The length of a man’s outspread arms is equal to his height.
- Science is the captain, and practice the soldiers.
- Marriage is like putting your hand into a bag of snakes in the hope of pulling out an eel.
- You can have no dominion greater or less than that over yourself.
- The smallest feline is a masterpiece.
- He who wishes to be rich in a day will be hanged in a year.
- All knowledge which ends in words will die as quickly as it came to life, with the exception of the written word: which is its mechanical part.
- Blinding ignorance does mislead us. O! Wretched mortals, open your eyes!
- The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art.
- The human bird shall take his first flight, filling the world with amazement, all writings with his fame, and bringing eternal glory to the nest whence he sprang.
- Knowledge of the past and of the places of the earth is the ornament and food of the mind of man.
- He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.
- You do ill if you praise, but worse if you censure, what you do not understand.
- Intellectual passion drives out sensuality.
- Time abides long enough for those who make use of it.
- Each man is always in the middle of the surface of the earth and under the zenith of his own hemisphere, and over the centre of the earth.
- It is better to imitate ancient than modern work.
- The poet ranks far below the painter in the representation of visible things, and far below the musician in that of invisible things.
- Just as courage imperils life, fear protects it.
- Experience does not err. Only your judgments err by expecting from her what is not in her power.
- Common Sense is that which judges the things given to it by other senses.
- Nature never breaks her own laws.
- Our life is made by the death of others.
- The function of muscle is to pull and not to push, except in the case of the genitals and the tongue.
- Experience never errs; it is only your judgments that err by promising themselves effects such as are not caused by your experiments.
- The truth of things is the chief nutriment of superior intellects.
- There is no object so large but that at a great distance from the eye it does not appear smaller than a smaller object near.
- Beyond a doubt truth bears the same relation to falsehood as light to darkness.
- Our body is dependant on Heaven and Heaven on the Spirit.
- As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.
- Men of lofty genius when they are doing the least work are most active.
- Necessity is the mistress and guide of nature. Necessity is the theme and inventiveness of nature, her curb and her eternal law.
- While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die.
- I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.
- I have wasted my hours.
- Many are they who have a taste and love for drawing, but no talent; and this will be discernible in boys who are not diligent and never finish their drawings with shading.
- As every divided kingdom falls, so every mind divided between many studies confounds and saps itself.
- The spirit desires to remain with its body, because, without the organic instruments of that body, it can neither act, nor feel anything.
- How many emperors and how many princes have lived and died and no record of them remains, and they only sought to gain dominions and riches in order that their fame might be ever-lasting.
- Just as food eaten without appetite is a tedious nourishment, so does study without zeal damage the memory by not assimilating what it absorbs.
- The Medici created and destroyed me.
- Man and animals are in reality vehicles and conduits of food, tombs of animals, hostels of Death, coverings that consume, deriving life by the death of others.
- Although nature commences with reason and ends in experience it is necessary for us to do the opposite, that is to commence with experience and from this to proceed to investigate the reason.
- There are four Powers: memory and intellect, desire and covetousness. The two first are mental and the others sensual. The three senses: sight, hearing and smell cannot well be prevented; touch and taste not at all.
- The divisions of Perspective are 3, as used in drawing; of these, the first includes the diminution in size of opaque objects; the second treats of the diminution and loss of outline in such opaque objects; the third, of the diminution and loss of color at long distances.
- People talk to people who perceive nothing, who have open eyes and see nothing; they shall talk to them and receive no answer; they shall adore those who have ears and hear nothing; they shall burn lamps for those who do not see.
- For, verily, great love springs from great knowledge of the beloved object, and if you little know it, you will be able to love it only little or not at all.
- The mind of the painter must resemble a mirror, which always takes the colour of the object it reflects and is completely occupied by the images of as many objects as are in front of it.
- Life well spent is long.
- In order to arrive at knowledge of the motions of birds in the air, it is first necessary to acquire knowledge of the winds, which we will prove by the motions of water in itself, and this knowledge will be a step enabling us to arrive at the knowledge of beings that fly between the air and the wind.
- It seems that it had been destined before that I should occupy myself so thoroughly with the vulture, for it comes to my mind as a very early memory, when I was still in the cradle, a vulture came down to me, he opened my mouth with his tail and struck me a few times with his tail against my lips.
- I have always felt it is my destiny to build a machine that would allow man to fly.
- The painter who is familiar with the nature of the sinews, muscles, and tendons, will know very well, in giving movement to a limb, how many and which sinews cause it; and which muscle, by swelling, causes the contraction of that sinew; and which sinews, expanded into the thinnest cartilage, surround and support the said muscle.
- The beginnings and ends of shadow lie between the light and darkness and may be infinitely diminished and infinitely increased. Shadow is the means by which bodies display their form. The forms of bodies could not be understood in detail but for shadow.
- Weight, force and casual impulse, together with resistance, are the four external powers in which all the visible actions of mortals have their being and their end.
- Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory.
- The painter who draws merely by practice and by eye, without any reason, is like a mirror which copies every thing placed in front of it without being conscious of their existence.
- I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have.
- Painting is concerned with all the 10 attributes of sight; which are: Darkness, Light, Solidity and Colour, Form and Position, Distance and Propinquity, Motion and Rest.
- Human subtlety will never devise an invention more beautiful, more simple or more direct than does nature because in her inventions nothing is lacking, and nothing is superfluous.
- I have found that, in the composition of the human body as compared with the bodies of animals, the organs of sense are duller and coarser. Thus, it is composed of less ingenious instruments, and of spaces less capacious for receiving the faculties of sense.
- To such an extent does nature delight and abound in variety that among her trees there is not one plant to be found which is exactly like another; and not only among the plants, but among the boughs, the leaves and the fruits, you will not find one which is exactly similar to another.
- I have been impressed with the urgency of doing. Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Being willing is not enough; we must do.
- He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast.
- Iron rusts from disuse; water loses its purity from stagnation… even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.
- It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.
- For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.