Mathematical Order in the Artwork of Leonardo Da Vinci Essay

Mathematical Order in the Artwork of Leonardo Da Vinci Essay

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Mathematical Order in the Artwork of Leonardo Da Vinci

A large portion of the Italian Renaissance was an obsession with finding order in everything in the universe. Its primary actors sought to show nature as orderly and fundamentally simple. Leonardo Da Vinci, the epitome of the Renaissance Man, was not the first to apply these ideas of geometric order and patterns to art, but he may be the most well known. Da Vinci used mathematical concepts like linear perspective, proportion and geometry in much of his artwork.

Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452 in Vinci, a town 50 kilometers west of Florence in what is now Italy. The illegitimate son of a notary, he grew to become one of the most renowned and influential men in the fields of art, engineering, architecture, mathematics and natural science. The world was just awakening from the Dark Ages. Sigmund Freud once wrote, “He was like a man who awoke too early in the darkness, while others were still asleep” (Brizio, 7). Much of his work was lost because of the time period he lived in. The primary artifacts of his work remaining today are the many paintings he did and the numerous notebooks filled with detailed diagrams of everything from human anatomy to theoretical inventions. They are filled with detailed descriptions and explanations scribbled right to left so only those intelligent enough could read them.

Leonardo did intensive studies on linear perspective. He applied this method to much of his work. According to the Thames and Hudson Dictionary of Art Terms, linear perspective is “the method of representing a 3-D object or a particular volume of space on a flat surface.” By making all of the lines in the painting converge on an single, invisible point on the horizon,...

... middle of paper ...

...tic of the Italian Renaissance, is sometimes criticized. But he created harmony and balance in such a unique and beautiful way that his work is still studied 500 years later.


[1] Brizio, Anna Maria, The Painter. Leonardo: The Artist, McGraw-Hill Co., 1980.

[2] Emmer, Michele, Art and Mathematics: The Plutonic Solids. The Visual Mind: Art
and Mathematics, MIT Press, 1993

[3] Pioch, Nicholas, Web Museum, Paris.: Leonardo Da Vinci. (9/20/99).

[4] Rosstad, Anna, (translated by Ann Zwick), Leonardo Da Vinci: The Man and the Mystery. Ostlands – Postens Boktrykkeri, 1994.

[5] Turner, Richard A., Inventing Leonardo. Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., 1992.

[6] Zwijnenberg, Robert, The Writings and Drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci: Order and
Chaos in Early Modern Thought. Cambridge University Press, 1999.

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