Scientific Methods

Tuesday, June 20, 2006


Sigmund Freud said “Leonardo Da Vinci was like a man who awoke too early in the darkness, while the others were all still asleep” [1].

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was a very talented man, except from being a painter during the Renaissance period he was also known as a “philosopher, mathematician, anatomist, sculptor, geometer, musician, inventor, engineer and architect” [1, 2, 3]. This great man was considered as a “universal” genius and is still today [1, 2].

He was born in Anchiano, Italy, in 1452 [1]. Earlier sources indicate that Leonardo’s mother, Catarina, was the daughter of a farmer and there is not much known about her today, but more recent sources indicate that she was probably a slave from the Middle East [1, 2]. However, Leonardo’s father, Ser Piero da Vinci, never married her because she was from a poor family and not considered applicable for Ser Piero [1]. Ser Piero already married his first wife in the year Leonardo was born, and thereafter he was married four times in total [1, 2]. Rumor suggests that Leonardo lived the first five years of his life with Catarina, and thereafter with his father that accepted him into the family due to the fact that he and his first wife never had children [1]. However, he was never legitimated [1, 2]. The real christened name of Leonardo was actually “Lionardo” [1].

Leonardo lived most of his childhood in a small town known as Vinci in Italy [1, 2]. Leonardo was a very inquisitive child and liked to ask his tutors a lot of questions, but he was also a doubting Thomas [1, 3]. He started with his first apprenticeship at the age of fourteen underneath Verrocchio in Florence [1, 2]. That was in the year 1466 [1, 2]. Verrocchio himself was a very talented man and excelled as “sculptor, painter, goldsmith and bronze caster” [1]. Verrocchio recognized Leonardo’s exceptional talent [1, 2]. Some other well-known painters of Leonardo’s time are Perugino and Botticelli [1].

Leonardo especially excelled after he has mastered the art of painting with oils like the Dutch [1, 2]. In 1972 his name was taken up in the “Campagnia de Pittori, the famous red book of painters” [1]. Leonardo made his first well-known drawing in 1473 and it was a pen and ink drawing of a river valley [1, 2]. Thereafter the famous “Baptism of Christ” followed and rumor holds that Leonardo painted an angel that was in comparison with the other figures painted by Verrocchio and others so good that Verrocchio stopped painting thereafter [1, 2].

Leonardo’s also had lived through some very bad times in his life like when he was accused of being homosexual by an anonymous person claiming that he had a relationship with a model, Jacopo Saltarelli [1, 2].

Some of Leonardo’s other famous paintings are “The virgin and the child, the Madonna and her cat and the Last Supper” [1, 2]. Another painting known as the “Annunciation” consisting of landscape and flowers, are the centre point of controversy as some claim that Leonardo are the painter, but most scientific information indicates Lorenzo di Credi as the original painter [1, 2]. St Jermoe is another important painting of Leonardo, but sadly enough unfinished as may others of his paintings [1, 2]. Leonardo painted a large variety of paintings throughout his life time that are nowadays all considered as excellent works.

The most well-known painting of Leonardo is the Mona Lisa. Rumor holds it that it is a painting of Lisa di Antonio Maria di Noldo Gherardini, that was the third wife of Francesco di Bartolommeo di Zanobi del Giocondo [1, 2]. After finishing the painting Leonardo decided not to sell it but to keep it [1, 2]. However, he did sell it later to King Francis I in France [1]. Since then the painting did traveled widely and was even stolen once, but currently the painting has find a resting place in Paris in the Louvre [1]. Due to the fact that it is behind “Bullet-proof” glass it is assumed that it is going to be in Paris for still a very long time [1].

During his lifespan Leonardo traveled a lot and widely [2, 3]. He did kept accurate notes during all his travels writing in “mirror writing” which is assumed was easier, taking in account that he was left-handed [2, 3]. Leonardo died at the age of 67 years in 1519 [1].

Why a look at Leonardo da Vinci? In his book, “The Da Vinci Code” Dan Brown, a fiction writer makes the statement that Leonardo da Vinci was part of a fabricated culture “the Priory of Sion” that was very mysterious [2]. In part two and three I will inform you more about Dan Brown, the controversial book and currently showing movie “The da Vinci code”.



2. Wikipedia contributors. Leonardo da Vinci [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia; 2006 May 31, 13:15 UCT [cited 2006 May 31]. Available from: da Vinci&oldid= 56121735.


Further interesting facts about Leonardo Da Vinci to be found at:

Leonardo Da Vinci, the classic biography from Kenneth Clark

Elizabeth van der Merwe
Department of Biodiversity and Conservation
University of the Western Cape
Private Bag x17

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