Leonardo Da Vinci: Study of Proportions
Every artist has their process of constructing works of art. Some artists choose to take a meaningful path by telling a story while others prefer a more scientific approach. Whether it is using specific mediums to help highlight the importance of their message or using exact measurements and equations to establish their piece, an artist has a process they follow to result in a completed work of art. While examining Leonardo Da Vinci’s artwork you can find the scientific innovation within his inventions, paintings, sculptors, and sketches. You can view the scientific approach he had while looking at his sketches; using precise lines and detailed images to build on his creations and works of art, just as he did with his Vitruvian Man.
During the first few years of his career, Leonardo Da Vinci attempted to make a few projects, following his apprenticeship with sculpting, painting, architecture, and much more. In 1478, Leonardo Da Vinci started his first paid project for San Donato; The Adoration of the Magi. He also attempted to honor Francesco Sforza with a bronze equestrian statue but both of these projects were never completed due to the War of Pazzi. However, none of these unforeseen incompletions hindered Da Vinci from establishing himself as a self-proclaimed artist. Regardless of the work he was unable to complete, Da Vinci still, later on, came to compete and display some of the most famous creations of our history; 1503 the Mona Lisa, and 1495 – 1498 the Last Supper. Due to his many interests in science law and nature that were a constant distraction, Da Vinci found a way of establishing his thinking process by documenting each of his thoughts and ideas for some of his inventions in his sketches such as his Flying Bicycle. According to his 500 Years of Genius exhibit, Leonardo Da Vinci made certain to secure his thoughts by writing each idea in a code that was not easy to understand; writing backward. Since his adolescence, Da Vinci apprenticed with Andrea del Verrocchio of Florence until he was able to master his own artistic talents. He spent many years learning and sharpening skills such as sculpting, carpentry, metalworking, painting, and drawing. Despite the fact that Leonardo Da Vinci did not receive much a formal education past math, writing, and reading, it was clear within his early ages that his artistic talents would help establish the name Leonardo Da Vinci as remarkable artistic.
Leonardo Da Vinci contained some of the greatest artistic talents of the Italian renaissance. Using his skills in science and art, Da Vinci wanted to capture the perfection of the human body. Creating sketches of his ideas but also of what he saw within his experiments and studies; visually displaying his thirst for knowledge. Unlike other artists during this time and a few years after, Da Vinci didn’t just want to draw his theories of the world or the human body; he wanted to gain a full comprehension of why and how. While Leonardo was the first artist to dissect the human body and sketch what he saw, he also wanted to be the first to find and understand the perfect proportions of architecture and men.. Being inspired by Marcus Vitruvius and his architectural work and his thoughts of perfect proportions and symmetry in architecture beauty, Vitruvius believed for this to be done, a man must be put on his back in a circle; with the center focused on the men’s navel. In addition, with arms and legs stretched out, his toes and fingers must touch the circumference of the circle; while placing the same figure within a square. Hence, the Vitruvian Man.
In the process of constructing the Vitruvian Man through his inspiration to Vitruvius’ theory, it is unclear whether Da Vinci sketched his ideas first or allowed his scientific background to take the lead. Nonetheless, following a theory of perfect geometry and mathematics, Leonardo Da Vinci was able to construct a beautiful image using both science, math, and art; proving that the impossible is indeed possible. Documenting his ideas through the art of sketching was a normal part of his thinking process. As an artist, sculptor, painter, architect, and inventor, preliminary sketching was his process; it was part of the reason why he was named the Renaissance man. Every thought in his mind to every finding he discovered could be found in many numerous sketches, which are currently located in the British Library; each page holding an artful image of the work Leonardo Da Vinci has once constructed and the thoughts he was unable to bring to life. Regardless, Leonardo Da Vinci would not be the artist, mathematician or inventor he was, without his sketches. Each sketch not only helped him progress further in his creations, but they helped the world see inside his mind.
A thinking process like Leonardo Da Vinci’s and many other artists deceased or alive is important. Thinking in itself helps an artist to develop a work of art but the process of sketching out a thought helps process the idea to a reality. Taking an idea and seeing what it can become is only supporting oneself on their artistic journey and Leonardo Da Vinci is a prime example. Each of his sketches displayed his thinking process. He understood the errors that could be made, and when they occurred, his sketches provided progressive solutions; displaying dimensions to fix and colors to change, sketches provide a wide range of support to an upcoming artist in his journey to be the world’s, Renaissance Man.
- “The British Library.” The British Library, The British Library, 2 Feb. 2017, https://www.bl.uk/.
- “The Beauty of Diagrams, Vitruvian Man.” BBC Four, BBC, 21 Mar. 2011, https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vl3h1.
- The Beauty of Diagrams: Vitruvian Man. Directed by Steven Clarke, Presented by Marcus du Sautoy, 2011. BBC, www.bbc.co.uk
- Leonardo, et al. “Leonardo Da Vinci on the Human Body: the Anatomical, Physiological, and Embryological Drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci.” Amazon, Gramercy Books, 2003, https://www.amazon.com/Leonardo-Vinci-Human-Body-Physiological/dp/0517381052.
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