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Visual Art Essay

The Renaissance time period started around the middle 1400s and ended in the early 1600s. This time period was traditionally viewed as a bridge between the Middle Ages and the Modern era. The Renaissance is best known for its artistic developments and the contributions from a polymathic person by the name of Leonardo Da Vinci. Leonardo Da Vinci was the ultimate Renaissance man. He was an inventor, a scientist, and an artist that influenced the Renaissance period.

According to “Leonardo’s perspective” (1997), “During the Renaissance, European artists began to study the model of nature more closely and to paint with the goal of greater realism. They learned to create lifelike people and animals, and they became skilled at creating the illusion of depth and distance on flats walls and canvases by using the techniques of linear perspective. ” (para. 1) At the age of fourteen, Leonardo Da Vinci served as an apprentice to famous artist Verrocchio.

Verrocchio’s workshop exposed Da Vinci to machines and the workings of those machines. Da Vinci observed and used a variety of machines. By studying them he gained practical knowledge about their design and structure (Inventor’s workshop, 1997). In his sketchbooks, researchers have found drawings resembling parachutes, war tanks, helicopters, scuba tanks, water lifting devices, crossbows and retractable landing gear for planes, and probably more. His many talents in drawing gave him mechanical ideas with clarity.

Five hundred years after they were put on paper, many of his sketches can easily be used as blueprints to create perfect working models (Inventor’s workshop, 1997). Two of the most famous paintings were created by Leonardo Da Vinci: The Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. Looking at The Mona Lisa, Da Vinci sketched his work to get the muscles, anatomy and the expressions perfectly. We can see the care he takes in his shading, his formation of the shapes of a face, and the many sketches he made before even putting brush to canvas.

It was his care in creating these images of people and machines that has made him the most popular artist of the age. He was versatile, interested, worked very hard in his sketches, and then created careful paintings that are beloved and carefully protected today. Furthermore, the texture of what is seen in the The Mona Lisa is of the woman herself versus the craggy background of the painting. The shading is so careful, the painting of the strands of hair so careful as to appear real. Her brow and the shadows there are almost photographic in the reality of them.

Her head covering is very delicate and if you look real close you can see that she has a very thin veil across her hair. Nothing is left to a blur on this painting. Even the shading of the neck, the face that has kept us all in mystery with the subtle and hard to read smile. Her dress shows the careful and fine skill of the dressmaker, with ruches and folds. As a portrait, it seems perfection, maybe this is why many people flock to Paris just to get a glimpse of the portrait. It is a small painting as well, so think how carefully he must have had to work to get the detail that he has here.

Moreover, he only part of the painting of The Mon Lisa that people wonder about in a way uncharacteristic of Da Vinci, is the nature scene behind her. The craggy rocks and blurred style of the nature scene behind seems out of character for the artist. Some scholars believe that the background was not painted by Leonardo at all because of the stylistic difference. I do not believe this however. The Mona Lisa is so close to us, and so finely and clearly wrought, and the painting itself so small, How else could he then depict the scene behind?

The closest part shows the craggy rocks, and this is in keeping with the care he has taken in the main part of the portrait. As objects get further away, if they are too clear they do not make sense in terms of how the eye works. When I look into the distance of this portrait, I cannot see any branches on the trees, or leaves. This shows that Da Vinci portrayed a picture of how the human eyes see objects. Leonardo Da Vinci was great scientist and he still exists in science and art paradigm that still exists today.

I choose Leonardo Da Vinci because he is a favorite of the Renaissance time period for people to think of history, because the middle ages were so rigid, filled with death, and governed by the rules of the catholic church. The renaissance changed all that: people were exploring, inventing and sculpting and painting like never before. But it was the combination of scientific exploration and artistic freedom that makes the renaissance the time that appeals to most people when thinking and learning about art.

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