Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Few Tidbits on Leonardo

Stillness and Peace
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7in x 5in
colored pencil on paper
copyright 2012 Rose Welty

As I grow older, I seem to need to read for a good twenty minutes or longer before I am able to sleep in the evenings. Recently for that reading I've been dipping into some art history. I have a large set of Time-Life Library of Art books from my uncle. I started with the Leonardo volume.

I thought I'd share a few things I hadn't known about Leonardo da Vinci:

  • We only have a handful of finished paintings from him. It seems universally accepted that this is because he was a procrastinator and rarely finished anything. I think this surprises me because I had assumed his discipline in clear thinking would lead to discipline elsewhere in his life.
  • We have his extensive notes, which are a jumble. Although he clearly wrote many things down, he didn't attempt to do so in any order nor did he include more than a handful of personal statements. I was rather surprised that such an enterprising mind, that thought through so many details, didn't see much value in an orderly system of recording his thoughts. (He did make a comment that once he was done with his notes he would go back and order them, but even he had to doubt that at some point.)
  • He made costumes and designed sets. The book I'm reading says that this was common in the day and something that da Vinci enjoyed.
  • He designed castle towers, exploding bombs (filled with what would later be called shrapnel after a later inventor), and discussed troop movements in his notebooks. He even submitted designs for a city layout.
Just looking at this list, it's rather a "do not do" sort of list you get in modern business books (don't procrastinate, always finish jobs, keep orderly notes, have orderly processes, specialize in one area, have a niche - don't try to be everything to everyone). Is it that times change or genius endures the centuries?


Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

genius endures def

going to go see this tommorow. figure it would be stupid not to go see them when they are only 20 minutes away

Rose Welty said...

I'm SO jealous Jen. How amazing to see them in person. The royal collection is one of the best - better than any other Leonardo collection. Have fun!

Yes, I'm with you on genius enduring, although there do seem to be some geniuses who slip through the cracks.

Jennifer Rose Phillip said...

yeah there are a few people that really should be better known, and only people who go looking for them find