Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Spotlight on Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci was born on April 15th, 1452 in Vinci, just outside of Florence, Italy. He was the illegitimate son of Ser Piero, a legal notary, and a peasant girl by the name of Caterina. Despite his illegitimacy, Da Vinci spent much of his youth in his father's care. It was there that he was introduced to scholarly texts and the beginnings of his informal education. At the age of 15, he was apprenticed by his father to Andrea del Verrocchio, a famous local artist that had seen the likes of Botticelli, Perugino and Domenico Ghirlandaio associated with his workshop. It was there that he received more formal training, that would have included, among other things, drafting, metallurgy, leather working, as well as drawing, painting and sculpting. It was also during this time that he was accepted into the famous Guild of St Luke, which was an artist guild in Florence. He continued to work out of the Verrocchio workshop until 1477, at which time he struck out on his own.

The Last Supper
Da Vinci continued to work in Florence until 1482 when he relocated to Milan. In Milan, He found employment with Duke Ludovico Sforza, where he was commissioned to create paintings, bronze sculptures, draw up architectural plans, as well as to design military equipment and even floats for parades. It was during his 17 years in Milan that he painted "The Last Supper" for the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, which subsequently became one of his most famous paintings.When the French invaded Milan and overthrew the Duke, Da Vinci fled back to Florence, leaving behind him a fantastic period of creativity that spanned much scientific research, many weaponry designs, the study of geometry, mechanics, municipal construction, and perhaps even the first conceived helicopter. With his attention divided between so many interests, he found it hard to focus on any one thing, but between frequent forays into nature, meticulous transcribing of his studies of anatomy, painting, mechanics and architecture in several journals, he also managed to paint "The Virgin on the Rocks".

Mona Lisa
In 1502, Da Vinci gained employment with Pope Alexander the VI's son, Cesare Borgia. He travelled extensively around Italy as a Senior Military Architect and General Engineer, where he surveyed cities and sketched some of the first maps available. By 1503, he moved back to Florence and rejoined the Guild of St Luke. It is also believed that during that year, he began work on his most famous painting, the Mona Lisa. It is with this painting that he established "Sfumato", which was a style of painting that used a shadowy quality that he became well known for.

Between 1506-1508, Da Vinci moved between Florence and Milan, focusing mostly on his study of anatomy and architecture. By 1513, he moved to Rome, where he was offered a home at the Vatican, by his good friend Giuliano de'Medici. He stayed there until 1516, when the King of France, Francis I, offered him the position of First Painter, Architect and Engineer to the King. The famed Renaissance Painter left behind Italy, never to return again. He died on May 2nd, 1519.

 "The Vitruvian Man"
While Da Vinci is lauded as a brilliant painter, he is equally as well known for his drawings, inventions, journals, scientific studies, engineering and anatomical understandings. All of these pursuits helped to better hone his skills, which established him as a master in many things in his day and beyond. In fact, his width and breadth of knowledge is obviously noted in his ability to capture the human form, as well as mastering the art of the "vanishing point" (ability to capture depth and three-dimensionality).

On October 1st, 2011, at the Western Fair Farmer's Market, children aged 5-12 years will get the chance to learn more about Leonardo Da Vinci through the use of games, stories and art history lessons with the folks from Budding Artists. In a 90-minute workshop, children will learn basic art techniques and be able to take home a masterpiece of their own making, based on the styling of this famous Renaissance Painter. This is the second in a course of workshops that will feature a new master artist every week. If you think your little budding artist could use some helpful hints or new techniques, register them now! You will find us on the second floor ready to get creative and have fun. See you there!

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