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Leonardo da Vinci - biography

Leonardo da Vinci "Self-portrait"
Leonardo da Vinci. "Self-portrait" (nearby 1510-1513). Library, Turin

Leonardo da Vinci (Леонардо да Винчи) — the Italian painter, the sculptor, the architect, the scientist and the engineer.

Combining working out of new means of art language with theoretical generalisations, Leonardo da Vinci has created the image of the person answering to humanistic ideals of High Revival. In a list "Last Supper" (1495-1497, in refectory monastery Santa-Marija delle Gracie in Milan) the high ethical maintenance is expressed in strict laws of the composition clear to system of gestures and a mimicry of characters. The humanistic ideal of female beauty is embodied in portrait Mona Liza («Dzhokonda», about 1503). Numerous opening, projects, experimental researches in area of the mathematics, natural sciences and mechanics. Defended crucial importance of experience in knowledge of the nature and has left notebooks and manuscripts, in quantity about 7 thousand sheets.

Leonardo da Vinci "Madonna Benua"

Leonardo da Vinci. Madonna Benua. About 1478. Butter, a tree. The Hermitage, Petersburg.

Leonardo da Vinci was born on April, 15th, 1452, near Florence in a family of the rich notary. It has developed as the master, being trained at Andrea del Verrokko in 1467-1472. Job methods in the Florentine workshop of that time where work of the artist has been closely interfaced to technical experiments, and also acquaintance to astronomer Paolo del Pocco Toskanelli promoted origin of scientific interests of young Leonardo. In early products (a head of an angel in "Christening" Verrokko, after 1470, "Lady day", nearby 1474, both in Uffici, "Madonna Benua", nearby 1478, the Hermitage) enriches traditions of painting quattrocento, underlining smooth dimensions of forms a soft treatment of light and shade, recovering persons a thin, almost inaudible smile.


Leonardo da Vinc." Madonna Litta"

Leonardo da Vinci. Madonna Litta. About 1490. Distemper, a tree. The Hermitage, Petersburg.

In «Worship of magicians» (1481-82, it is not finished; the underpainting - in Uffici) transforms a religious image into a mirror of various human emotions, developing innovative methods of drawing. Fixing results of uncountable supervision in sketches, sketches and natural studies (the Italian pencil, a silver pencil, sanguine, a feather and other technicians), Leonardo achieves a rare sharpness in a facial expression program (resorting at times to grotesque and a caricature), and and movements of a human body results a structure in ideal conformity with composition dramatic art.

Leonardo da Vinci "Madonna Benua"

Leonardo da Vinci. Madonna Benua. About 1478. Butter, a tree. The Hermitage, Petersburg.

On service at the governor of Milan Lodoviko Moro (with 1481) Leonardo acted in a role of the military engineer, hydraulic engineering, the organizer of court festivals. Over 10 years it worked over monument Francesco Sforza, father Lodoviko Moro; the clay model of a monument executed to plastic hallows full-scale has not remained (is destroyed at a capture of Milan by Frenchmen in 1500) and is known only on preparatory sketches.

For this period it is necessary Leonardo-painter's creative blossoming. In «to the Madonna in rocks» (1483-94, the Louvre; the second variant - 1487-1511, National gallery, London) favourite the master the most thin treatment of light and shade («sfumato») appears as a new aura which goes on change to medieval nimbuses: it in an equal measure both is divine-human, and natural sacrament where the rocky grotto, reflecting Leonardo geological supervision, plays not a smaller drama role, than figures sacred in the foreground.

«Madonna in a grotto»

Leonardo da Vinci "Madonna in a grotto"

The picture «the Madonna in a grotto» has not been finished.

Leonardo da Vinci's art has grown from the Florentine tradition, but already in «in a grotto» style rudiments, in which basis - easing of the power of a line and new use of a treatment of light and shade are visible to the Madonna. This reception is called sfumato: balance search between accuracy of a line and vibration of light by washing off of accurate outlines of subjects in process of removal from them. If in Botticelli's painting the line, in Leonardo painting the main thing - a program of eternally changeable visible world is defining.

«Madonna in a grotto». The picture is not finished. Nearby 1482. Paris, the Louvre.

«Last Supper»

Leonardo da Vinci "Last Supper"

Leonardo da Vinci. The Last Supper. 1495-1497. Painting on a wall. Santa-Marija-della-Gratsie, Milan.

In refectory monastery Santa-Marija делле Gratsie Leonardo da Vinci creates a list "Last Supper" (1495-97; because of risky experiment on which the master has gone, having applied for a fresco butter to mixes with distemper, job has reached us in rather hurt kind). The high religious-ethical maintenance of an image where it is presented rough, contradictory reaction of pupils of the Christ to its words about the future treachery, is expressed in accurate mathematical laws of the composition, imperiously subordinating to itself not only drawn, but also real architectural space. The clear scenic logic of a mimicry and gestures, and also excitingly-paradoxical, as always at Leonardo, a combination of strict rationality to inexplicable secret have made "Last Supper" by one of the most considerable products in history of world art.

Studying also architecture, Leonardo developed various variants of "an ideal city» and a central-dome temple. The next years the master spends in incessant moving (Florence - 1500-02, 1503-06, 1507; Mantua and Venice - 1500; Milan - 1506, 1507-13; Rome - 1513-16). With 1517 lives in France where has been invited by the king Frantsisky I.

«Fight at Angjari»

Leonardo da Vinci. An etude of "Head of soldiers»

Leonardo da Vinci. An etude of "Head of soldiers» for "Fight Angjari". A national museum of the fine arts, Budapest.

In Florence Leonardo da Vinci worked over a list in Palace Vekko («Fight at Angjari», 1503-1506; it is not finished and has not remained, it is known on copies from a cardboard, and also under the found out sketch - private meeting, Japan) which costs at sources of a battle genre in art of new time; deadly fury of war is embodied here in frenzied fight of horsemen.


The etude has been written for «Fights at Angjari». It differs an unusual expression that has had considerable influence on mannerists.

Dzhokonda (Portrait Mona Liza)

In Leonardo the most known picture, portrait Mona Liza (so-called «Dzhokonda», nearby 1503, the Louvre) the image of the rich townswoman appears as a mysterious embodiment of the nature as that, not losing thus purely female slyness; internal relevancy of a composition is given by the kosmicheski-stately and at the same time disturbing-aloof landscape thawing in cold smoke.

Портрет Мона Лиза

«Dzhokonda» it is considered Leonardo da Vinci's brushes an embodiment of the higher skill and secret of painting. A mysterious, semisad, semienthusiastic smile, a shade slipped on lips of the young woman, a "lunar" landscape on the second plan, harmony and calmness of all shape create an image poetical and happy, mysterious and perfect.

Leonardo da Vinci. «Mona Liza». The Louvre, Paris.

Leonardo da Vinci's late pictures

Portrait Dzhinevra dei Benchi

Leonardo da Vinci. «Portrait Dzhinevra dei Benchi».

To Leonardo late products belong: projects of a monument to marshal Trivultsio (1508-1512), a list «Sacred Anna with Maria and the baby the Christ» (nearby 1500-1507, the Louvre). In last it is as though summed up to its searches in the field of sveto-air prospect, voice-frequency colour (with prevalence of cool, greenish shades) and a harmonious pyramidal composition; at the same time it is harmony over a chasm as the group of the sacred characters soldered by family affinity, is presented on the brink of a precipice.

Leonardo last picture, «Sacred John Krestitel» (nearby 1515-1517, in the same place) is full of an erotic ambiguity: the young Forerunner looks here not as the sacred ascetic, but as the tempter full to a sensual charm. In a series of drawings with the image of universal accident (a cycle with "Flood", the Italian pencil, a feather, nearby 1514-1516, Royal library, Windsor) meditations about caducity and a pettiness of the person before power of elements are combined with rationalistic, anticipating "vortical" cosmology Rene Descartes representations about recurrence of natural processes.

«The treatise about painting»

Portrait «Female hands and a comical sketch of a man's head»

Leonardo da Vinci. An etude «Female hands and a comical sketch of a man's head» (a silver pencil and whitewash on the grounded paper). Royal library, Windsor. The etude has been written in 1490th years and is a sketch for «Portrait Dzhinevra dei Benchi», stored in the Washington national gallery.

As the major source for studying of views of Leonardo da Vinci its notebooks and manuscripts (about 7 thousand sheets), written on colloquial Italian language serve. The master has not left a regular statement of the thoughts. «The treatise about painting», Leonardo prepared after death its pupil F.Meltsi and made huge impact on the art theory, consists of the fragments in many respects any way taken from a context of its notes. For Leonardo art and a science have been connected indissolubly. Giving to «dispute of arts» a palm tree of superiority of painting as to the most intellectual, on its belief, a creativity kind, the master understood it as universal language (similar to mathematics in sphere of sciences) which embodies all variety of a universe by means of proportions, prospects and treatments of light and shade.


«Painting, - writes Leonardo, - a science and the lawful daughter of the nature..., the relative of the God». Studying the nature, the perfect artist-scientist thereby learns «divine mind», hidden under external shape of nature. Being involved in creative competition to this is divine-reasonable beginning, the artist thereby confirms the similarity to the Supreme Creator. As it «has at first in a shower, and then in hands» «everything, that exists in the Universe», it too is «a certain god».

Leonardo da Vinci - the scientist. Contract designs

Anatomic drawing

Leonardo da Vinci. The anatomic drawing. Da Vinci was the artist, the scientist and the inventor simultaneously, he tried to reduce all to universal unity. To Leonardo da Vinci's art concerned as quintessence of knowledge and aspired to be more scientific, than the artist. Art for Leonardo - means for world comprehension.

As the scientist and engineer Leonardo da Vinci has enriched with acute supervision and guesses almost all areas of knowledge of that time, considering the notes and drawings as sketches to the huge physiophilosophical encyclopaedia. It was the bright representative of the new natural sciences founded on experiment. Leonardo special attention gave to mechanics, naming it «paradise of mathematical sciences» and seeing in it a key to secrets of a universe; he has tried to define sliding friction factors, studied resistance of materials, with enthusiasm studied in hydraulics.

Da Vinci numerous hydraulic engineering experiments have received expression in innovative projects of channels and irrigational systems. The passion to modelling led to Leonardo to the amazing technical previsions much more advancing an epoch: such are sketches of projects of metallurgical furnaces and rolling mills, weaving looms, printing, woodworking and other cars, a submarine and the tank, and also developed after careful studying of flight of birds of a design of lethal devices and a parachute.


The gathered Leonardo of supervision over influence of transparent and translucent bodies on colouring of the subjects, reflected in its painting, has led to the statement in art of principles of air prospect. Universality of optical laws has been connected for it with representation about uniformity of the Universe. It was close to creation of heliocentric system, including the Earth «a point in a universe». Studied the device of a human eye, having stated guesses about the nature of binocular sight.

Anatomy, botany and paleontology

Sacred Anna with Maria, the baby the Christ and John Krestitelem

Leonardo da Vinci. «Sacred Anna with Maria, the baby the Christ and John Krestitelem» (the reddish paper pasted on a canvas; coal; whitewash). National gallery, London. This etude, possibly, has been written to time of the second stay of the artist in Florence - the difficult grouping of figures is typical for composite searches of the beginning of 16 centuries.

In anatomic researches, having generalised results of openings of corpses, in da Vinci detailed drawings has put in pawn bases of a modern scientific illustration. Studying functions of bodies, considered an organism as the sample of "the natural mechanics». For the first time has described a number of bones and nerves, special attention gave to problems embryology and comparative anatomy, aspiring to enter an experimental method and in biology. Having confirmed botany as independent discipline, has given classical descriptions of an arrangement of leaves, gelio - and geotropizm, root pressure and movement of juice of plants. Was one of founders of paleontology, considering, that the fossils found at tops of mountains, deny representations about "Flood".

Having shown an ideal of Renaissance "versatile person", Leonardo da Vinci was comprehended in the subsequent tradition as the person who most brightly has outlined a range of creative search of an epoch. In the Russian literature Leonardo portrait is created by Dmitry Sergeevichem Merezhkovsky in the novel «Revived gods» (1899-1900).

Leonardo da Vinci has died on May, 2nd, 1519, in lock Klu, near Ambuaza, Touraine, in France.

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