Leonardo da Vinci Framed Art

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Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci

(April 15, 1452 May 2, 1519)

Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance architect, musician, anatomist, inventor, engineer, sculptor, geometer, and painter. He has been described as the archetype of the "Renaissance man" and as a universal genius. Leonardo is famous for his masterly paintings, such as The Last Supper and Mona Lisa. He is also known for designing many inventions that anticipated modern technology, although few of these designs were constructed in his lifetime. In addition, he helped advance the study of anatomy, astronomy, and civil engineering. Renaissance humanism saw no mutually exclusive polarities between sciences and arts.

Leonardo is well known for his artistry and paintings. Leonardo pioneered new painting techniques in many of his pieces. One of them, a colour shading technique called sfumato, used a series of glazes custom-made by Leonardo. It is characterized by subtle transitions between colour areas, creating an atmospheric haze or smoky effect. Chiaroscuro is the technique of modelling and defining forms through contrasts of light and shadow.

Rockwell moved to New Rochelle, New York at age 21 and shared a studio with the cartoonist Clyde Forsythe, who worked for The Saturday Evening Post. With Forsythe's help, he submitted his first successful cover painting to the Post in 1916, Boy with Baby Carriage published on May 20. Rockwell married Irene O'Connor, that same year; however, the couple divorced in 1930. He quickly remarried schoolteacher Mary Barstow, with whom he had three children Jarvis, Thomas and Peter. In 1939, the Rockwell family moved to Arlington, Vermont, which seemed to inspire him to painting scenes of everyday, small town American life.

Early works in Florence (1452-1482)

Leonardo was apprenticed to the artist Verrocchio in Florence when he was about 15. In 1476 Leonardo worked with Verrocchio to paint Baptism of Christ. He painted the angel at the front and the landscape, and the difference between the two artists' work can be seen, with Leonardo's finer blending and brushwork. A legend is that when Verrochio saw Leonardo's work he was so amazed that he resolved never to paint again.

His first painting completed wholly by himself was the Madonna and Child painting completed in 1478, he also painted at the same time a picture of a Madonna with a cat which no longer exists. In 1480-81 he created a small Annunciation painting which is now in the Louvre. In 1481 he painted an unfinished work of St. Jermoe. Between 1481 and 1482 he started a painting called The Adoration of the Kings (also known as The Adoration of the Magi). He made extensive, ambitious plans and many drawings for the painting, but it was not finished, as Leonardo's services had been accepted by the Duke of Milan, to which he travelled.

Milan (1482-1499)

Leonardo spent 17 years in Milan under the services of Duke Ludovico (between 1482 and 1499). He did many paintings, sculptures, and drawings during this time. He also designed court festivals, and did many of his sketches related to engineering. He was given basically a free reign to work on any project he chose, though he left many projects unfinished, completing only about six paintings during this time. This included Last Supper (Ultima Cena or Cenacolo, in Milan) 1498 and Virgin of the Rocks. He worked on many of his notebooks between 1490 and 1495.

He painted the Virgin of the rocks in 1494. In 1499 he paints Madonna and Child with St. Anne.

He often planned grandiose paintings with many drawings and sketches, only to leave the projects unfinished. One of his projects involved making plans and models for a monumental seven metre (24 ft) high horse statue in bronze called "Gran Cavallo". Because of war with France, the project was never finished. (In 1999 a pair of full-scale statues based on his plans were cast, one erected in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the other in Milan.) The Hunt Museum in Limerick, Ireland has a small bronze horse, thought to be the work of an apprentice from Leonardo's original design.

The French invaded Milan in 1499, and Ludovico Sforza lost control. Leonardo was forced to search for a new patron.

Nomadic Period - Italy and France (1499-1519)

Between 1499 and 1516 Leonardo worked for a number of people, travelling around Italy doing several commissions, before moving to France in 1516. This has been described as a 'Nomadic Period'.

In 1500 he went to Mantua where he sketched a portrait of the Marchesa Isabella d'Este. He left for Venice in 1501, and soon after returned to Florence.

After returning to Florence, he was commissioned for a large public mural, The Battle of Anghiari; his rival Michelangelo was to paint the opposite wall. After producing a fantastic variety of studies in preparation for the work, he left the city, with the mural unfinished due to technical difficulties. The painting was destroyed in a war in the middle of the sixteenth century.

He began work on the Mona Lisa in 1503. He most likely kept it with him at all times, and did not travel without it. Thousands of people see it each year in the Louvre, perhaps drawing their own interpretation on what is known as the Mona Lisa's most infamous and enigmatic feature - her smile. It is well known that Leonardo made extensive use of many tricks in this painting, including the so-called Golden Ratio. The name Mona Lisa is not the one given to the piece of art at the time, nor was it known by this title until much later. There is some debate whether Leonardo himself painted the Mona Lisa (also known as La Gioconda, now at the Louvre in Paris), 1503-1506., or whether it was the work of his students, it is known that it was probably his favourite piece.

He paints St Anne in 1509. In Milan between 1506 and 1512 under the patronage of the French Governor Charles d'Amboise, he paints several paintings. These included The Leda and the Swan, known now only through copies as the original work did not survive. He paints a second version of The Virgin of the Rocks (1506-1508). While under the patronage of Pope Leo X, he painted St John the Baptist (1513-1516).

During his time in France, Leonardo made studies for the Virgin Mary from The Virgin and Child with St. Anne, and many drawings and other studies.

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