Leonardo da Vinci: A Triple Threat

As we toured the Leonardo da Vinci museum I was fascinated at the multitude of talents this man possessed. Although all the things he specialized in were tied together, they are still very hard things to be proficient at. Leonardo was a great artist, architect, and engineer, which can all be linked and used all together to create something great.  Leonardo came to Europe in a very dark time, while the plague was going around, but still managed to create beautiful and intelligent work. His main focuses were architecture and engineering but with both of these fields you also need a little artistic ability.

When Leonardo came to Italy he had the dream of building an “ideal city”. This would mean that everything is laid out perfectly and the city would function as efficiently as possible. He felt that canals are as important as streets and should be used as much as possible for transporting goods. This requires the cities to be built close to rivers, but if they are built too close, then they will have a lot of flooding. This may seem like common sense but at this time, not many other people thought to do this. He also focused heavily on creating a city with better hygiene, which meant getting rid of open air sewage. Not only was he great at figuring out the layout of the city, but he also designed stables to be efficient. He would make the floors slightly slanted so that all water and sewage would run to the middle of the stable where there would be a drain. This would stop flooding and make cleanup easier. When it came to placing the different classes in the city, he had the idea to put the noblemen on the upper level of the city. His main focus was making a practical, functional and beautiful Milan.

Not only was Leonardo skilled with designing cities and buildings, he was also a great engineer. It is a shame that most of his work cannot be figured out fully due to lost journal pages because of the irresponsible people he gave them to. It is quite impossible to figure out his inventions by only seeing one page of the design because he used exploding drawings which showed the object completely piece by piece and on several pages. He was responsible for many important jobs given to him by the duke of Milano. These tasks included building warships and to go along with these ships and his idea of canals, he invented draw bridges. He would have completely developed more inventions if it were not for the French conquering Milan and the duke leaving. With the duke gone, he had no one to finance his projects. This made it impossible for him to ever develop his flying machine, so that project was abandoned. Also, with some of the drawings being lost, they could not tell the full idea of some of his projects, such as the loom, but they could take some of his ideas and put them to good use.  However, who knows how much more advanced our technology would be today had his journals not been separated.

To help him as an architect and engineer, Leonardo da Vinci also had a creative eye as an artist. He believed that architecture should be based on the proportions of man. So, like man, buildings should be as wide as tall to be perfect. He based most of his ideas of man, which he believed was the center of the material and spiritual world. He treated man as God is treated today and made everything about them. Leonardo really interested me because he did this, with Milan as a very Catholic country, it is surprising that more of his work is not based on God rather than man, although, he does show very religious depictions in some of his paintings such as The Last Supper. Overall, I found it very interesting how one man could have such an impact that we still learn about his work and ideas today. As someone with no creativity and no artistic ability, I am truly fascinated with how talented this man was with so many different career fields.

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