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Leonardo Da Vinci

1452-1519

One of the Greatest Painters Of All Time

The Greatest Italian Painter of the High Renaissance
 

Influences -Andrea del Verrocchio

Education: Apprenticed to the studio of Andrea del Verrocchio

Cause of Death:  Old Age

 

His life has three divisions--thirty years at Florence, nearly twenty years at Milan, then nineteen years of wandering, till he sinks to rest under the protection of Francis the First at the Chateau de Clou. The dishonor of illegitimacy hangs over his birth. Piero Antonio, his father, was of a noble Florentine house, of Vinci in the Val d'Arno, and Leonardo, brought up delicately among the true children of that house, was the love-child of his youth, with the keen, puissant nature such children often have. We see him in his youth fascinating all men by his
beauty, improvising music and songs, buying the caged birds and setting them free, as he walked the streets of Florence, fond of odd bright dresses and spirited horses.

                                                                             
John C. Van Dyke, art historian and author, describes Leonardo Da Vinci "He has been named a realist, an idealist, a magician, a wizard, a dreamer, and finally a scientist, by different writers, yet he was none of these things while being all of them—a full-rounded, universal man, learned in many departments and excelling in whatever he undertook. He had the scientific and experimental way of looking at things. That is perhaps to be regretted, since it resulted in his experimenting with everything and completing little of anything. His different tastes and pursuits pulled him different ways, and his knowledge made him skeptical of his own powers. He pondered and thought how to reach up higher, how to penetrate deeper, how to realize more comprehensively, and in the end he gave up in despair. He could not fulfil his ideal of the head of Christ nor the head of Mona Lisa, and after[100] years of labor he left them unfinished. The problem of human life, the spirit, the world engrossed him, and all his creations seem impregnated with the psychological, the mystical, the unattainable, the hidden."

From his earliest years he designed many objects, and constructed models in relief, of which Andrea del Verrocchio, then the most famous artist in Florence. Beautiful objects lay about there--reliquaries, pyxes, silver images for the pope's chapel at Rome, strange fancy-work of the middle age, keeping odd company with fragments of antiquity, then but lately discovered.  Another student Leonardo may have seen there--a boy into whose soul the level light and aerial illusions of Italian sunsets had passed, in after days famous as Perugino.Verrocchio was an artist of the earlier Florentine type, carver, painter, and worker in metals, in one; designer, not of pictures only, but of all things for sacred or household use, drinking-vessels, ambries, instruments of music, making them all fair to look upon, filling the common ways of life with the reflection of some far-off brightness; and years of patience had refined his hand till his work was now sought after from distant places. 



About The High Renaissance Period

Classical humanism, was a major factor of the Italian Renaissance. This philosophical movement was based on the idea that every persons life had value and dignity. Humanism also stressed  man's position in the natural world. The Humanists  believed modern man should look to the classical writings and art of the ancient Greeks and Romans as exemplary guides for ethical living and scholarship. Francesco Petrarch,1304-1374,  called the Father of Humanism, Italian Intellectual, Poet, and Humaniststated, "No one intellect should ever strive for distinction in more than one pursuit. Those who boast of preeminence in many arts are either divinely endowed or utterly shameless or simply mad. Who ever heard of such presumption in olden times, on the part of either Greeks or men of our own race? It is a new practice, a new kind of effrontery. To-day men write up over their doors inscriptions full of vainglory, containing claims which, if true, would make them, as Pliny puts it, superior even to the law of the land.. ."

During the Renascence the spirit of an era awoke, revitalized with knowledge and creativity. Although art still served a specific functions, which were primarily religious, painters added more of their individual spirit and personal vision to their creations. John Ruskin, famous art historian declared, "The art of any country is the exponent of its social and political virtues . The art, or general productive and formative energy, of any country, is an exact exponent of its ethical life. you can have noble art only from noble persons, associated under laws fitted to their time and circumstance."

The major painters of the Renaissance were not only artists but men of great genius who gave the world their great intellectual gifts. Florentine and Venetian painting were both formed by extraordinary personalities. These independent creative geniuses tackled mathematical, artistic and philosophical problems of the highest interest, and presented solutions that have never lost their value. The sense of humanism pervading renaissance painting is still palpable. The painters touched on a multitude of  issues regarding the human condition - death, love, reason, religion, universal morality, social problems.


Key Descriptive Words  and Phrases associated with the Renaissance Movement rebirth, rediscovery of the classical world, City-state, Humanism, Humanist, Francesco Petrarch, Reform, The Prince, Theocracy, The Inquisition, Human Reasoning,  publication of Della Pittura, a book about the laws of mathematical perspective for artists, sfumato, chiaroscuro, linear perspectiveHeliocentric Theory, vanishing point, Savonarola, spiritually significant,  illuminated manuscriptidealized biblical themes, scriptorium, emotion, illuminator,  Age of Discovery, axonometric drawing, curiosity about the natural world, mythology,  realistic use of colours and lightBonfire of the Vanities, Old Testament stories, ethereal and foggy backgrounds, Gospel parables, The Blackdeath, romanticized landscapes,  Christian symbolism. Paradise

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