Leonardo: Renaissance Man

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Leonardo da Vinci is the personification of the achievements of the Renaissance. A man of great intellect and artistic creativity, he remains a symbol of learning and culture today, maintaining a role in even pop culture. People continue to be intrigued by the man who not only painted gorgeous and delicate portraits but also composed sketches of the world around him that reveal an understanding above most of his time. Leonardo was deeply interested in the scientific processes of nature and had a strong desire to illuminate the inner workings of the world. It was this natural curiosity and appreciation for the intricate secrets of the physical world that allowed him to paint so beautifully. In his brilliant mind, art and science culminated to form a deep understanding of the secret interior of objects that allowed him to represent his subjects in the most accurate and breath taking of ways. Da Vinci understood that to truly portray anything’s surface, one has to have an intimate knowledge of everything that lies underneath. He made sketches of men hanged for treason and extensively studied human anatomy, performing dissections even though the Church forbade them, so that he could understand how the human body operated under all conditions. He studied the way that water flows, and discovered that the spiral was an integral shape to nature. Da Vinci was a great inventor and designed things never attempted before, such as a flying machine. He is known as saying that he was a scientist and not an artist, but really it was his genius in one subject that flowed over to the other. “Leonardo made the faculty of vision—or more precisely, the gift and patience for intensive observation—the foundation of both his scient...

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...e shows through in his artwork.

The painting Saint Jerome is unfinished, as is much of da Vinci’s work.


Adams, Laurie Schneider. Italian Renaissance Art, Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 2001.

Ackerman, James S. “Leonardo Da Vinci: ‘Art in Science’” from Daedalus, Vol. 127, No. 1, Science in Culture, pp. 207-224. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998.


Bull, David. “Two Portraits by Leonardo: ‘Ginevra de’ Benci’ and the ‘Lady with an Ermine’” in Artibus et Historiae, Vol. 13, No. 25, pp. 67-83. Krakow, Poland: IRSA s.c., 1992.


Wayman, Alex. “The Human Body as Microcosm in India, Greek Cosmology, and Sixteenth-Century Europe” in History of Religions, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp. 172-190. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1982.

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