Leonardo's futuristic inventions such as contact lenses and a writing instrument that resembles a modern day fountain pen are still with us in our everyday lives. He was indeed the quintessential Renaissance man, the one who represents the renascence, rebirth, of the arts, of science and of reason over superstitions. I got an opportunity to see his amazing works and discoveries at the Milan Science Museum.
When drawing the birds, he thought about the trajectories and the flight of the bird. He was a meticulous observer of nature. According to him the human body is a perfect machine, with a perfect architecture. When he drew a human body he showed "tendon or muscle is the cause of each movement" in his drawing. Leonardo's interest in proportions was sparked by writings of Vitruvius which provide a systematic examination of Roman engineering and architectural methods that were used in city planning, temple architecture , in pneumatics, waterworks and drainage.
But it is the iconic drawing of the "Vitruvian Man" that tells about the proportions of the human body. In his study of living models and corpses he applied the core of his knowledge and created illustrations of human anatomy that are uncannily accurate, except for the female reproductive system . Anatomists during Leonardo's time often dissected unclaimed bodies, such as of vagrants or drunks who were more likely to be males.
Leonardo was the first to draw the human spine with the correct curves. He was also a first to draw a fetus in-utero.Today anatomy revolves and engages new imaging techniques such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that allows surgeons to view every detail for diagnosis and for operating.
Micro-anatomy, the study of anatomy at microscopic level is an area that was not yet there for Leonardo during his time. He however anticipated advances that would come only in the last several decade. His baby-in-utero drawing foresee the modern ultrasound techniques. His drawings of the anatomy of the shoulder look like modern 3D visualization.
He believed in his belief system and his own experiences. He saw and recorded what he perceived for the rest of the humanity hundreds of years ahead of his time. A wandering scientist with a pen ( that he designed ) with which he wrote everything in reverse, even his signature, that drew the future. He was an enigma . My big salute to this master genius.
Some fun facts about Da Vinci
- He was an ambidextrous, paranoid dyslexic. He could draw forward with one hand while writing backwards with the other producing a mirror image script that was laterally inverted. Others found it extremely difficult to read, which was exactly the point.
- Researchers at The University of Amsterdam and the University of Illinois used the face- recognition software to determine that Mona Lisa is 83% happy, 9% disgusted, 6% fearful and 2% angry.
- Leonardo was the first to prove why the sky is blue. (It's because of the way air scatters light).
- Bill Gates bought Leonardo's Codex Leicester in 1995 for $ 30 million. This manuscript, the only one not held in Europe, includes da Vinci's studies on hydraulics and the movement of water. Few pages out of it were used as screen savers on Windows 95.
- Leonardo de Caprio's name is Leonardo because his mother was standing in front of a Leonardo Da Vinci's potrait when he first kicked.
- In one of his drawings the uterus is wrong. In his drawing the uterus is as we would see in animals such as cows. Since it was difficult to procure female corpses, Leonardo used the knowledge that he had gained from dissecting animals to help him understand the human body.