A number of exhibitions will be shown around the world on the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the death of Leonardo da Vinci.
Leonardo da Vinci was a universal genius and by far the most far-reaching of all Italian Renaissance artists.
He was interested in music, scientific research, anatomical dissection, astronomy, martial arts, the design and manufacture of bicycles, excavators, pumps, locks, irrigation systems, mills, measuring equipment, clockwork and the construction of ideal utopian cities, in addition to painting, drawing and writing.
And he had visions of being able to fly as well. The list of inventions overall is much, much longer.
Unfortunately, his many projects as a technician and inventor and his restless nature affected his pictorial production. He completed relatively few paintings, many of which remained unfinished.
Yet all his contemporaries were superior in several of Leonardo’s beautifully elaborated compositions, with the fine modeling of light and shadow, and with colors that go softly and sensitively over each other.
His two pictorial techniques are known as sfumato and chiaroscuro.
Born in or near Vinci, Tuscany, Leonardo was born in 1452.
His father was a notary, as was his grandfather and great-occupation.
Vinci’s grandfather lived at a very small town surrounded by a vast untouched landscape with streams, rocks, trees and large birds of prey, where the young Leonardo was very interested in nature.
In 1466, Leonardo left his hometown and was trained in Florence by the famous sculptor and painter, Andrea del Verrocchio.
The workshop was Florentine Art’s most important center and attracted the most talented artists, young and old.
The sculptor Donatello and the painters Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, Perugino and Ghirlandaio were among the more prominent names.
He performed his early masterpiece “The Annunciation” with his instructor Andrea del Verrocchio (1472-75).
He worked for Duke Ludovico Sforza (1452-1508) in Milan in the years 1482-99, who gave him various assignments as “The Last Supper” (1495-98) in the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which has become one of the most famous works in the history of art and an equestrian monument to Francesco Sforza, father of the Duke (1401-1466).
Several of his masterpieces were also performed in Milan, including “Madonna in the Rock Cave” (1483-85) and “The Woman with the Ermine” (1489-90).
Perhaps the most significant work from Leonardo’s time in Milan is the enigmatic portrait of Ludovico Sforza’s mistress Cecilia Gallerani, “The Girl with the Ermine” Painted in 1488-90, the portrait is considered one of the first modern portraits in the history of art.
With a white emblem, Leonardo portrayed Cecilia.
The Hermin was an emblem of purity.
There are several meanings and interpretations requiring the juxtaposition with the girl and the ermine.
The ermine probably refers to the last name of the girl, as galay is the Greek word for ermine.
But the ermine also refers to her lover, Ludovico Sforza, who became known as l’Ermellin after he had been awarded an order named after the ermine by the King of Naples.
The “Madonna in the Rock Cave” is among Leonardo’s other masterpieces from Milan’s time.
Shortly after his arrival in Milan, the picture began, where he and the Preda brothers received an order for three images of an altarpiece to represent Mary with the Child Jesus and the angels.
It was necessary to place the images in one and the same frame.
Leonardo chose a dramatic, raw rock landscape in his picture as the background for the characters.
The image’s vividness and the three-dimensional modeling and richness of detail were revolutionary and broke with the more traditional gilded altar decoration.
Ten years later, Leonardo started a further version of the same motif with a few deviations, which was not finished until 1508, 25 years after the first picture.
The early image belongs to the Paris Louvre, while the other is depicted in London’s National Gallery.
The city was invaded by the French after 17 years in Milan, and Leonardo then worked briefly in Mantova and Venice before returning to Florence, where he painted several important paintings in 1500-06, such as “Mona Lisa” (1503-06) depicting Lisa Gherardini, married to Francesco del Giocondo, a Florentine patrician.
The portrait type in half figure with both hands visible was in the early 16th century an innovation that received many imitations.
The large, dynamic “Battle of Anghiari” mural for the Palazzo Vecchio, which was later destroyed, is another masterpiece from this period.
Several artists made a big impression on the big battle scene and Rubens drew a copy of the work, which can be found at the Louvre today.
Leonardo worked in Milan again in 1506-12 and moved to Rome in 1513, where he produced his last paintings.
He settled in France in 1517, where he was the court artist, architect and master of mechanics of Francis I until his death in 1519.
Here, the Castle of Cloux near Amboise was assigned as a residence.
In France, he produced i.a. Sketches of a castle and drawings of violent natural events, such as the flood and the doom of the world, were executed in large numbers.
There are relatively few of Leonardo’s pictures preserved. One gets about 7000 of his drawings in return.
He worked on two equestrian statues as a sculptor, one of which was executed, but it was later destroyed in 1499 during the war.
He drew many drafts as an architect, but they were never realized, but he still had a big influence on several architects.
The influence of Leonardo da Vinci as a visual artist was fundamental, and for many great masters, such as Rafael, Michelangelo, Giorgione, Correggio and Rubens, he gained great importance.