Leonardo da Vinci — The Man of Artistic Realism

Leonardo da Vinci was one of the most renowned and intellectually enlightened men of the Italian Renaissance. There isn’t a single area of subject or domain about the earth, about the Universe that hasn’t fascinated humans. From painting to human physiology, Leonardo’s contribution is immeasurable. Who was Leonardo da Vinci? Was he an artist, scientist or an anatomist? Interestingly, he was all. Hence, he was widely acclaimed as ‘The Universal Genius’. Being an artist, his understanding of painting and drawing was much different form his predecessors as well as contemporaries. Among the famous artists and painters of Italy and France, it was Leonardo who provided a scientific understanding of the art of painting. He didn’t consider art different from science. His perception of art was such that it is not really different from science, but both are mutually defining. His immense passion towards the scientific understanding of arts, keen observational skills and a taste for natural colors and flavors made his panting a real life depiction of artistic excellence. Hence, Realism was one of the peculiar features of Leonardo da Vinci’s works. Being an Italian polymath, his areas of interests were widely spread and deeply inculcating. They included painting, architecture, anatomy, botany, mathematics, science, inventions and discoveries.

Though Leonardo didn’t receive any formal education or training in painting and other disciplines, his knowledge and understanding of them was much above any source of formal education. He considered the outside world his school, and gained the best out of it through the mere art of observation and introspection. Nature was his experimental lab which supplied him the wisdom to develop reasoning and logical understanding of the natural phenomena, like understanding the reason for the blue colour of sky etc. Leonardo da Vinci started his career as an apprentice in Italy under the training of the famous artist and painter, Andrea del Verrocchio. A workshop with Verrocchio for painting the ‘The Baptism of Christ’ helped him gain immense popularity. Several interpretations on Leonardo’s life and paintings have rendered people fascinated and stunned. They also put forth the idea that Leonardo’s angels in his paintings have outshined Verrocchio’s Jesus in the painting ‘The Baptism of Christ’.

The beauty of Leonardo da Vinci’s work lies in the scientific understanding and realistic depiction of the paintings. A huge set of background work was carried out by him in completing every painting. He spent a good share of his life in understanding the anatomy and biology of nerves and brain in inducing emotions and feelings. He paid special attention to the reasons behind the emotions of happiness and anger. Not only did he focused on emotions, but had also indulged in the dissection of human body to understand the neural, muscular and structural framework. This was done to provide a scientific portrayal of paintings. Each of these observations made in the field of anatomy and natural science were clearly noted down though it couldn’t be published.

Da Vinci is thus, widely acclaimed for some of the early contributions in the identification and development of certain key concepts in the field of biology and medicine. He studied extensively about the four chambers of the heart and even had an entire volume dedicated to the study of heart alone. His most famous works ‘Mona Lisa’, ‘The Last Supper’ and ‘The Vitruvian Man’ are the result of outstanding natural and scientific study conducted by him. The characters of ‘The Last Supper’ are an epitome of great mystical and artistic portrayal of emotions and symbolism. While ‘The Vitruvian Man’ gives an insight into the human structural framework, thus providing a foundation for the study of human anatomy, ‘Mona Lisa’ has actually outperformed almost all artistic works since then. ‘Mona Lisa’ was believed to be a portrait of a woman named Lisa, the wife of a feudal lord in Italy. However, other versions of the truth also exist. The element of artistic and aesthetic sense was so remarkable and incredible in ‘Mona Lisa’ that even today the smile of Mona Lisa is investigated and explored. To put it more rightly, Mona Lisa’s smile remains one of the unsolved mysteries of the artistic world. It must have either been the use of natural paints or the anatomical creativity or together the brilliance of da Vinci that acclaimed ‘Mona Lisa’ with a large number of love letters and duplications. Today, this painting is protected inside a bullet proof case in the Louvre Museum of Paris, France.

Da Vinci’s works are a very few in number. However, the fame that he created for himself and the influence that he left on his viewers is immense and immeasurable. Da Vinci had a very unique style of vision and attitude towards paintings. He treated every painting as a true manifestation of emotions, collaboration of natural forces and a completion of scientific realism. Hence, he adorned every painting with the element of empirical validation, observational perfection, blend of grandeur and simplicity and finally with the incredible touch of rarity. If the technological innovations and development of the 15th and 16th century had been great, da Vinci would have been a man of the millennium. Despite all the limitations and obstacles, da Vinci had never failed to bring out his immense talents or to mold them in the best possible way. Thus, Leonardo da Vinci is one of the greatest intellectuals, a talented and undisputed polymath who blessed the period of Renaissance with his outstanding brilliance and creativity.

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