storia dell'arte rubrica di  CORRERENELVERDEONLINE

Artist English ] Andrea Mantegna English ] Antonello da Messina English ] Bernini English ] Borromini English ] Caravaggio English ] Giotto English ] Giulio Romano English ] [ Leonardo da Vinci English ] Masaccio English ] Michelangelo English ]

The Istory of Art ] Prehistoric art ] Greek art ] Etruscan art ] Roman art ] Byzantine art ] Gothic art ] Romanic art ] 1300 ] 1400 ] 1500 ] 1600 ] 1700 ] 1800 ] 1900 ] Artists ]


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Van Gogh





Storia dell'arte - Story of Art



The History of Art

Prehistoric Art

Greek Art

Etruscan Art

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Byzantine Art

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1300 art

1400 art

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Da Messina





Giulio Romano




Leonardo Da Vinci

The best genius

versione italiana

Helicopter of Leonardo da Vinci

He was born in 1452. He was the illegitimate son of a farmer (or houskeeper) Caterina and of an accounter named Ser Piero. His mother could not see him, during all his life Leonardo suffer for this loss. He lived with his father and his new family. Leonardo’s father had ten other kids and considered Leonardo, the “son of the sin”, for this reason that talented young kid did not have the chance to study to become an accountant.

Leonardo loved his uncle, they spent a lot of time together, walking and studying the animals and the environment. As a result of that he developed a great interest for the reign of the animals. Leonardo’s father discover his talent by accident and decided to send the kid to study at Verrocchio’s office.

In 1400 Italy was the most developed country in Europe, the artistic and cultural life were brilliant, and Verrocchio’s office was one of the best places to learn the art of painting, sculpturing and many other kind of art.

In the offices the students could do minor works, like the preparation of the canvas. For istance, in the painting “Il Battesimo do Cristo” (Galleria degli Uffizi) Leonardo had to paint the angel on the left of the canvas. The expert said that the angel painted by Leonardo was even better than the one painted by Verrocchio. Leonardo started to show his talent and to get involved with many cultural subjects. He wrote and drew a lot of notes, that could be read in front of a mirror. He wrote manuscripts (the Codes) about geology, tessil machines, he drew projects to buil a city. Unfortunately the experts think that a big number of Leonardo’s notes have been lost during the centuries. His style explained all the innovations that he learned at Verrocchio’s: the pyramidal composition, the chiaroscuro. Thanks to his great talent he started soon to work alone. One of his first works was “L’Annunciazione”, a beutiful painting that shows Leonardo’s style (the very bright landscape on the background for istance). His first portrait “Ginevra Benci” is an example of Leonardo’s typical style. The experts noticed a big mistake in the painting “L’Annunciazione”: Mary’s arm is out of proportions to the rest of the body. This is a terrible mistake since during the Renaissance the perspective had a very important role. Before the Renaissance landscapes were flat, Giotto was the first artist who noticed the importance of the depth and then Brunelleschi exposed the perspective principles. Leonardo lived in Florence for fourtheen years, he worked as a painter, but he also studied  Anatomy, Geology and Biology. He was one of the first men that studied the fossils. In the “Hammer’s Code” he explains why fossils were in deep waters that do not existed anymore. In Florence he visited very often the Court of Lorenzo il Magnifico. He used to get inspired while walking in the streets, he loved watching people’s faces, the beauty of the human beings, but also their decadence. Sometimes he drew the caricature of some people, especially of people that he did not like. He aslo love the sculpture, but his only work that has arrived to us is the “Angelo dell’Annunciazione” (Romanic Church of S. Gennaro, Collodi). Some other works of Leonardo have been accidentaly destroyed. The head of S. Girolamo had been cut off, to make a chair.

“L’adorazione dei Magi” was the first significant work, that perfectly shows his style: the Characters form a half circle and the other characters in the backgorund are still visible. Eventually the artist could not finish the painting and he left to Milan. In 1482 he moved to Milan and spent seventheen years there. 1482 was a very prolific year for Leonardo, his creativity was at the top, but somehow his activity was very slow. His pursuit of perfection caused some Problems. His first years in Milan were not very easy for the artist, because of the lack of money and the hard dialect that those people used to speak. He met a woman, Cecilia Gallerani, that was smart and classy, he created two great works after her: “Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani” and “Dama con l’ermellino”. Leonardo painted an ermine, because it represents a sense of balance and elegance, the same characteristics that he used to see in Cecilia. Both the ermine and the woman look in the same direction and they stand in the same elegant position. Meanwhile he developed another great talent, he started to work as scenery-designer: in the pièce “Festa del Paradiso” he made the sun, the moon and the planets move on the stage. He also drew and sewed the costumes. He wrote music and songs, rebus he played instruments, he wrote projects and created inventions. He was a very brilliant man. At the same time he used to paint a lot, he realized  “il Cenacolo”, a painting on the wall. But the painting got almost destroyed by the time. This masterpiece represented the reaction of the Apostoles during the last Supper when Jesus said that one of them was going to betray him.

“La vergine delle rocce” (Louvre Museum) was realized in the same period, the stones in the painting seem almost real. A late version of the same painting is exposed in the National Gallery in London, but the experts think that Leonardo just started the work, and then Ambrogio De Predis finished it.

Leonardo started to work on the equestrian statue for the memory of Francesco Sforza, and he focused all his attention in the creation of the horse. He wanted to cover the statue of bronze, but the bronze was not available in the city (it was used to make weapons). In 1499 the first draft of the Statue was destroyed by the troops that invaded the city.

Leonardo was very famous when he left Milan, he spent sometime in Mantova at the Court of Isabella D’Este Gonzaga. In1501 he went first to Florence and then to Romagna, where he lived at the Court of Cesare Borgia, the “Lord of the War”. Leonardo worked for a while to fortify the Borgia’s Court, but when he found out that the man was violent and crule, he left.

Tanks of Leonardo da Vinci

Although Leonardo did not love the war, he enjoyed a lot the creation of military machines. In Florence he discovered a way to divert the river Arno and let it invade the city of Pisa, because there was a war at that time between the two cities. the knowledge of the course of rivers, let him create a lot of systems of defence against the overflowing of the Arno. He also tried to connect Florence to the sea and to find a way to sail the Arno. Florence was a great cultural centre and a lot of artists used to meet there. Occasionally Leonardo met Michelangelo, but they did not get along together. THey received they same job: they had to paint a wall in Palazzo Vecchio. Leonardo had to represent the “Battle of Anghian”, while Michelangelo the “Battle of Cascina”. Once again Leonardo had some problems, dealing with the tecnique pf Frescoes. He thought that with a frescoe he could not represent the right depth and the right shadows. Anyway, Leonardo used the tecnique of the Encausto (that he learned reading Plinio) which consisted in the use of the heath to fix the colors on the wall. Unfortunately the result was catastrophic. Lately Vasari totally modified the painting. He admired Leonardo and his style, for this reason someone thinks that he just covered the painting with another one. Leonardo spent most of his life working on a machine that could let the human beings fly and to do that he studied the anatomy of birds. Although he uderstood that the human beings needed the support of the wind and of the warm air to fly, he could not create the machine. Especially in the last part of his life, he worked on the rules of flight, he built an instrument with the form of a propeller (the Statue at the airport of Rome, Fiumicino, represents Leonardo holding this instrument). He also studied the anatomy of human beings, that are the most complicated machines. He practiced on death corps to know what happen when we die. He magnificently drew the Human body with some notes, with a sequence of drafts that represented the inside of every organ. He could not understand how the heart works, because he compared the human body with the lynfatic system in the plants, so he took the wrong way. He studied the human eye to understand why our sight is tridimentional. One of his best drawings was the “Vitruvian Man”. He found out how to realize the squaring of a circle as he wrote on his notes. He made very important discoverie for how to concern the astronomy, about the Hearth and the heath of the sun. He explained the concept of the attraction of gravity. he refused the concept of the Hearth as a centre of the planetary system. Regarding the botanic system, he knew that the system of leaves on the trees follow mathematic rules. He discovered how to calculate the age of the trees, and also the hydroponic growing.

In 1503 he started to paint “La Gioconda”, it took him four years to finish it. Monnalisa is sitting on a balcony and the landscape in the background is supposed to be some land near Arezzo. For many years the experts have been studying the face of Monnalisa, without paying any attention to the background of the painting. In 1506 he went to Milan and he saw his painting “Il Cenacolo”. He noticed that a lot of students were staring at his work, taking inspiration of it. He was flattered. In 1513 he moved to Rome where he worked for the drainage of the Pontini swamps. After some legal problems in Rome, he decided to go to France, where he stayed at the Court of Francesco l. He brought the “Gioconda” and some manuscripts with him. Francesco l bought the painting for 400 ducati. The artist spent the last years of his life in CLoux, one hundred kilometres far from Paris. During those years he wrote the “Atlantic Codes”. He made a will: his student Salai received his paintings, his co-worker Giovan Francesco Melzi received his drawings and his “Self-portrait”, his step-brothers got all the other goods.

“Leonardo’s self-portrait” got lost after the death of Melzi,latelly in 1840 Carlo Alberto di Savoia bought it from a collector in France. Now the painting is in the Library of Torino with thirteen other drawings.

On May 2nd 1519 the artist died, the legend says that he died on the arms of Francesco l.


His most important works are:

   •     1469 Madonna della melagrana (Madonna Dreyfus) Washington – National Gallery of Art

   •     1470 Madonna col bambino (Madonna del garofano) Monaco – Alte Pinakothek

   •     1472 L’Annunciazione Firenze – Galleria degli Uffizi

   •     1474 Ritratto di Ginevra Benci Washington – National Gallery of Art

   •     1478 Madonna col bambino (Madonna Benois) San Pietroburgo – The State Hermitage Museum

   •     1480 San Gerolamo Città del Vaticano – Pinacoteca Vaticana

   •     1481 Adorazione dei Magi Firenze – Galleria degli Uffizi

   •     1483 La Vergine delle rocce (prima versione) Parigi – Museo del Louvre

   •     1485 Ritratto di musico Milano – Pinacoteca Ambrosiana

   •     1488 Ritratto di Cecilia Gallerani (La Dama con l’ermellino) Cracovia – Czartoryski Museum

   •     1490 Ritratto di dama (La Belle Ferronnière) Parigi – Museo del Louvre

   •     1494 Ultima Cena Milano – Refettorio di Santa Maria delle Grazie

   •     1495 La Vergine delle rocce (seconda versione) Londra – National Gallery

   •     1498 Tronchi d’albero con rami, radici e rocce Milano – Castello Sforzesco, Sala delle Asse

   •     1500 Ritratto di Isabella d’Este Parigi – Museo del Louvre, Cabinet des Dessins

   •     1501 Sant’Anna, la Madonna, il Bambino e San Giovannino Londra – National Gallery

   •     1503 Ritratto di Monna Lisa del Giocondo (La Gioconda) Parigi – Museo del Louvre

   •     1508 Testa di fanciulla (La scapigliata) Parma – Galleria Nazionale, Palazzo Pilotta

   •     1508 San Giovanni Battista Parigi – Museo del Louvre

   •     1510 Sant’Anna, la Madonna, il Bambino e l’agnellino Parigi – Museo del Luovre

   •     1515 Leda Roma – Galleria Borghese


Among the different codes and manuscripts, the most important are:

  • Codice Atlantico (with a lot of drawings and scientific notes, about 2000. Milano ,Biblioteca Ambrosiana

  • Manoscritti A, D, (drawings and notes about the functions of the eye, and about astronomy) Parigi – Institut de France

  • Manoscritti B, E, K (they contain drawings about architecture, some projects of ships, bridges, scientific instruments and aslo some drawings about the flight of birds and their anatomy)Parigi – Institut de France

  • Manoscritti C, F, H, I (notes about geometry and physics) Parigi – Institut de France

  • Manoscritti G,L, M. Parigi – Institut de France

  • Codice Arundel , Londra – British Library

  • Code about the flight of birds,Torino – Biblioteca Reale

  • Fogli A, B, C, (drawings and notes about anatomy ) Londra – Biblioteca Reale del Castello di Windsor

  • Manoscritto 2037 Ashburnham ,Parigi – Institut de France

  • Manoscritto 2038 Ashburnham (it is all about painting) Parigi – Institut de France

  • Codice 8036 e Codice 8037, Madrid – Biblioteca Nacional

  • Codice Hammer (notes about geology) (ex Leicester) Washington, Seattle Collezione Bill Gates

  • Codice Trivulziano , Milano – Castello Sforzesco

  • Codice Forster I , Londra – Victoria and Albert Museum

  • Codice Forster II, Londra – Victoria and Albert Museum

  • Codice Forster III , Londra – Victoria and Albert Museum