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A Glance at Leonardo da Vinci’s Art

The Renaissance period was an evolution of Europe in almost all ways possible: art, literature, architecture, culture, economics, science… Although some say that the word “Renaissance” comes from French, its root is the Latin word “Renaistre”, which means rebirth, revival, and a new beginning. This name is accurate, even just considering the cultural state of Europe. The Renaissance era is best known today for its revolutionary artists and the new art styles that they came up with. One of the Renaissance artists, probably the most known one nowadays, is Leonardo da Vinci. He wasn’t only an artist, he also was a clever engineer, scientist, theorist, sculptor, inventor, architect, philosopher, and architect. But today, we are going to mention several details about his art and the variety of art techniques that he used. His art wasn’t only to express his state of mind, but also to help improve scientific knowledge.

After the education, he got from Andrea del Verrocchio (an Italian sculptor, painter, and goldsmith), he started working as an artist in Florence. However, he was also a scientist who was eager to examine the details of human anatomy, the detailed structures in the human body, and the proportions within. But he couldn’t observe the structure of human organs by looking at living models. Therefore, he dug out cadavers from the graveyard and used them for a better understanding of human anatomy. He drew sketches of the human body by looking at those corpses. And he wrote his observations from right to left (in the opposite direction considering the normal writing language) in his notebook. His sketches and notes helped to a better understanding of human anatomy and contributed to medical sciences. It is estimated that around 15 to 20 of his paintings have survived to the present day, but the techniques that he used and the insane sacrifices that he had done to improve art and science are still appreciated. Now, let’s look at some of the art techniques that he used in his paintings.

In these anatomical sketches, we can see that he drew the muscle structure and a baby placed in a womb. These sketches prove that Da Vinci’s sketches were revolutionary for the science world back then, considering people knew almost nothing about interior human anatomy.

“Sfumato” is one of the most famous techniques that Leonardo da Vinci is known for using. The word comes from an Italian word, which can be defined as “smoky” or “blurred”. This technique is painting without using any harsh lines between the transitions. This technique is used by artists to create a misty atmosphere within the painting. Leonardo da Vinci used this technique in his most prestigious paintings, like the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. This technique gives the painting a more mystic and mysterious ambiance, creating gentle and dreamy blurs by painting up layers of thin glazes of paint over and over and blending them.

In these paintings of Da Vinci (‘Lady with an Ermine’ and ‘The Last Supper’), the “Sfumato” technique can be viewed clearly.

The second technique that Leonardo da Vinci is most known for using is the “Chiaroscuro” technique. The word comes from the Italian words, “chiaro” and “oscuro”, meaning “light” and “dark”. This technique can be explained as using the visual difference between light and darkness while creating a dramatic scene in a painting. This technique creates a three-dimensional dramatic effect for the viewer by creating a sense of volume by using a single light source inside the painting. Caravaggio, and Rembrandt (other well-known Renaissance artists) were also known for using this technique.

In these paintings of Da Vinci (‘Adoration of the Magi’ and ‘Annunciation’), the “Chiaroscuro” technique can be viewed clearly.

Da Vinci was also known for using the “drapery” technique, like most other Renaissance artists. This technique can be elucidated as the study of cloth in paintings. This technique added a certain texture to Da Vinci’s paintings, making them more realistic. The stated effect can be added to the paintings by some techniques, such as blending, and highlighting.

Some of Da Vinci’s “drapery” studies.

He used countless other techniques, but these were the ones that he was most known for using.

Also, plenty of religious effects can be viewed within his paintings. The most known example is the painting “The Last Supper”, the painting symbolizes the moment that Jesus Christ stated that one of his people would betray him. Also, there are various religious figures like Virgin Mary, St. Anne, the three wise men, and some angels in almost all his paintings. “The Virgin of the Rocks”, “Annunciation”, “Madonna and Child with St. Anne” and “Adoration of the Magi” are some examples of his use of religious figures in his paintings.

In these paintings of Da Vinci (‘The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne’ and ‘Virgin of the Rocks’), the effect of religious figures on Da Vinci’s art can be observed clearly.

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