Leonardo Da Vinci - a New Kind of Art

Debra Carroll
October 22, 2011
Henry (Chip) Hellman

Leonardo da Vinci was, among many other things, an extremely noteworthy artist of the Italian Renaissance who was an innovation in style and technique.     He describes the first picture in the world as "a line surrounding the shadow of a man, cast by the sun on the wall" so it could be said that Leonardo da Vinci’s gift was helping to turn that simple form of art into an expression of emotion combined with a truer reproduction of form (da Vinci tr. by Baring, 1906).   Although Leonardo da Vinci had the aptitude for a number of other skills (sculptor, architect, musician, draftsman, engineer, and scientist), the focus here will be on what applied to his skill as a painter.
He was born an illegitimate offspring, on April 15, 1452, of a Florentine Notary named Piero da Vinci with a young peasant woman, Caterina.   Leonardo grew up in his father’s home developing a lifelong appreciation of nature, and also showing a notable skill in artistry.   Due to his obvious talent, in 1466 he was sent to Florence to study under one of the most celebrated Italian sculptors of that time, Andrea Del Verrocchio.   During this training in the arts of painting, sculpture, and mechanical arts, he is said to have painted the angel and part of the landscape of Verrocchio’s Baptism of Christa.   Also during this period, he came into direct contact with several young and later recognized artists such as Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, and Lorenzo di Credi.   Leonardo was able to register in the Painters’ Guild in 1472 and his wonderful but unfinished work, Adoration of the Magib was contracted by the monks of San Donato a Scopeto.   This work displayed his first use of chiaroscuro (The Columbia Encyclopedia, 2008) which was a new use of light and shade in a picture that aided Leonardo in more clearly depicting emotional expression in his subjects.   He didn’t feel any picture was complete unless it...