LEONARDO DA VINCI
Leonardo da Vinci is probably the world’s most famous artist. But the surprising fact is that Wikepedia tells us that the world only has 15 original Leonardo da Vinci paintings to look at. And that is not all!
Quotes from Wikepedia;
Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) was one of the leading artists of the High Latt. Fifteen works are generally attributed either in whole or in large part to him. Most are paintings on panel, with the remainder a mural, a large drawing on paper, and two works in the early stages of preparation. The authorship of several paintings traditionally attributed to Leonardo being disputed. Two major works are known only as copies. Works are regularly attributed to Leonardo with varying degrees of credibility. None of Leonardo’s paintings are signed. The attributions here draw on the opinions of various scholars.
Leonardo, was an Italian Renaissance polymath whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of palaeontology, ichnology, and architecture, and is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time. Sometimes credited with the inventions of the parachute, helicopter and tank, he epitomised the Renaissance humanist ideal. Many historians and scholars regard Leonardo as the prime exemplar of the “Universal Genius” or “Renaissance Man”, an individual of “unquenchable curiosity” and “feverishly inventive imagination”.
So Leonardo was pretty much an all round clever clogs.
However he is probably most famous for being the painter of the ‘Mona Lisa’ portrait that hangs in the Louvre in Paris since 1797. The Mona Lisa has been described as “the best known, the most visited, the most written about, the most sung about, the most parodied work of art in the world”.
The Louvre reported over nine million visitors in 2014 and said that 80% of them only want to see the ‘Mona Lisa’. The painting has been stolen, recovered, travelled around the world, copied, disputed, damaged by acid attack, and generally number one in the limelight for centuries.
Leonardo also painted ‘The Virgin on the Rocks’, twice. One version hangs in the Louvre and another in The National gallery London.
And his biggie is the ‘Last Supper’ in which he painted the moment during the last meal shared between Jesus and his disciples when he tells them that one of them will betray him. The painting is a wall painting. Leonardo decided not to use the fresco technique, common in those days, but instead to paint on a dry wall. The painting has deteriorated badly, partly because Leonardo was experimenting, and partly it is on a thin outer wall of the chapel where it is located. However it has survived allied bombing in the second-world war. But it has been extensively restored and still exists.
The other paintings in Leonardo’s skimpy collection include ‘John the Baptist’.
However, Leonardo did leave us with a large collection of notebooks and drawings. Often executed in mirror writing, maybe because he wrote with his left hand. These notebooks include his “Vitruvian Man’ which is spectacular in the way that it displays proportion and geometric relationships.
More quotes from Wikepedia;
“The small number of surviving paintings is due in part to Leonardo’s frequently disastrous experimentation with new techniques, and his chronic procrastination. Nevertheless, these few works together with his notebooks, which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and his thoughts on the nature of painting, comprise a contribution to later generations of artists rivalled only by that of his contemporary, Michelangelo.”
The lesson for all of us modern day artists is to sign all your work, and keep records of everything that you do, in several formats, in several different places. Otherwise you and I might have to draw on the dubious ‘opinions of various scholars’ if we wish to succeed and rival Leonardo for the top spot in artistic fame and fortune.
Oh OK, maybe we don’t want to rival Leonardo for the top spot.
He after all also invented all those things that were centuries ahead of his time. Inventions like military tanks, helicopters, scuba diving, parachutes, etc. I don’t think he invented the Internet or mobile phones, but he could have done for all we know, because he didn’t keep accurate records of absolutely everything he did.
Learn the lesson.