Discovering da Vinci
“There are three classes of people: Those who see. Those who see when they are shown. Those who do not see."

Which are you?
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  • A page of random sketches of horses and gears from Leonardo da Vinci’s notebooks. 

    (Source: discoveringdavinci.com)

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  • "Mona Lisa’s Sisters" 

    These are copies of the Mona Lisa made by contemporaries of Leonardo up until the advent of photography. Note how the backgrounds differ and that some include the pillars on each side and others do not. It’s possible some of these are copies of copies or of other similar versions. 

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  • The Mona Lisa morphing into Leonardo da Vinci’s self portrait. Read more about this -> here. 

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  • The Mona Lisa morphing into Leonardo da Vinci’s self portrait. Read more about this -> here. 

    Click here to see a higher quality Gif. 

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  • This is how some of Leonardo’s notebook pages are stored and presented by the Royal Collection Trust. Most of this particular collection  stems back to 1690. Leonardo left his notebooks to his assistant Melzi who’s family then eventually sold them. Some of them went to the Royal Collection while others went else where. Today the individual collection of notebooks and sketches are referred to as Codex ___. (Windsor, Arundel, Atlanticus, Leicester, Madrid etc.) which really only means that a certain and sometimes random collection of Leonardo’s notebooks ended up together and owned by __. It doesn’t necessarily mean that is how Leonardo intended for them to be combined or that some of them are out of place. Codex Leicester was actually bought by Bill Gates for over 30 million. You can read more about the different Codexes here

    Pictured here is a single page from Leonardo’s notebooks showing front and back (Verso) that is housed in the Royal Collection trust. It explains how to draw a deluge and shows some sketches. 

     

    • Creator: Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise 1519) (artist)
    • Creation Date: c.1517-18
    • Materials: Pen and ink
    • Dimensions: 30.1 x 20.9 cm
    • Acquirer: Charles II, King of Great Britain (1630-85)
    Provenance: 
    Bequeathed to Francesco Melzi; from whose heirs purchased by Pompeo Leoni, c.1582-90; Thomas Howard, 2nd Earl of Arundel, by 1630; Probably acquired by Charles II; Royal Collection by 1690

    Description:

    Recto: a sheet of instructions in Leonardo’s handwriting describing how to paint a Deluge, illustrated by seven slight sketches.

    Verso: a description of a Deluge in Leonardo’s handwriting, illustrated by three slight sketches.

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  • Leonardo became almost obsessed with the ideas of destruction in the last couple years of his life. He drew these scenes of a deluge ravaging the earth. Casually glancing at them they appear to be just squiggly doodles or waves but if you look more closely they are filled with details. Tree’s, ruins, buildings. Some framing lines are left along some of the paper’s back edges, alluding that they were intended to be finished works - or that even though they do not seem very clear or ‘finished’ they were intended to look this way. 

    'Let there be represented the summit of a rugged mountain with valleys surrounding its base, and on its sides let the surface of the soil be seen to slide, together with the small roots of the bushes, denuding great portions of the surrounding rocks … and let the mountains as they are laid bare reveal the deep fissures made in them by ancient earthquakes … And into the depth of some valley may have fallen the fragments of a mountain, forming a shore to the swollen waters of its river, which, having already burst its banks, will rush on in monstrous waves; and the greatest will strike upon and destroy the walls of the cities and farmhouses in the valley.

    Trees and plants must be bent to the ground, almost as if they would follow the course of the gale, with their branches twisted out of their natural growth and their leaves tossed and turned about. Of the men who are there some must have fallen to the ground and be entangled in their garments, and hardly to be recognized for the dust, while those who remain standing may be behind some tree, with their arms around it that the wind may not tear them away; others with their hand over their eyes for the dust, bending to the ground with their clothes and hair streaming in the wind.’ - Leonardo da Vinci 

    "Of Leonardo’s many drawings of deluges made at this time, ten are uniform in size and style, but not in technique - most are in black chalk only, though all are as meticulously worked up as the present sheet, which is finished with the pen to give a remarkably formal, measured quality to the destruction. Huge cubic blocks of a mountain arch over to crash down at the centre, sending curling waves of debris shooting out like shock-waves to blast the landscape along the lower edge of the sheet. Yet the dual nature of these drawings - both visionary and theoretical - is confirmed by the dispassionate inscription hidden among the clouds at the top, which reads:" (Holbein to Hockney:)

    'Of rain. You will show the degrees of falling rain at various distances and of varying degrees of obscurity, and let the darkest part be closest to the middle of its thickness.'

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  • Scenes of the Apocalypse

     Leonardo da Vinci || c.1517-18 || Pen and ink and wash over traces of black chalk || 30.0 x 20.3 cm

    Towards the end of Leonardo’s own life he began to consider the end of the world. Unlike many of the “Revelation” end of the world scenario’s he explained what he thought would happen in a more scientific way. This explanation could be realistic and is probably similar to what happened on mars - with the water retreating underneath the surface and without water the surface would become  ’deserted, arid and sterile’. 

    "The watery element was left enclosed between the raised banks of the rivers, and the sea was seen between the uplifted earth and the surrounding air which has to envelope and enclose the complicated machine of the earth, and whose mass, standing between the water and the element of fire, remained much restricted and deprived of its indispensable moisture; the rivers will be deprived of their waters, the fruitful earth will put forth no more her light verdure; the fields will no more be decked with waving corn; all the animals, finding no fresh grass for pasture, will die and food will then be lacking to the lions and wolves and other beasts of prey, and to men who after many efforts will be compelled to abandon their life, and the human race will die out. In this way the fertile and fruitful earth will remain deserted, arid and sterile from the water being shut up in its interior, and from the activity of nature it will continue a little time to increase until the cold and subtle air being gone, it will be forced to end with the element of fire; and then its surface will be left burnt up to cinder and this will be the end of all terrestrial nature. “

    (Source: itsjustlife.com)

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  • Three sketches on two pages of a child drawn from 3 perspectives. It seems to be related to the child in his painting “Virgin of the Rocks” and also probably drawn from real life.

    • A bust of a child
    • c. 1495-1500 
    • 10 x 10 cm - & 16.5 x 13.6 cm
    • Red Chalk. 

    'A study of the head and shoulders of a child, turned in profile to the left. It is related to the Christ in the National Gallery's version of the Virgin of the Rocks. This image is unusual in being apparently, drawn from the life, and this may have been prompted by its function. While Leonardo was content to reproduce the usual form of an infant's profile, the modelling of the flesh in the round seems to have been the focus of this study and the other sketch of an infant's chest and back, with which it is surely associated. This is suggestive not of a study for a painting but rather for a three-dimensional bust. However no such bust by Leonardo has been identified.'

    (Source: discoveringdavinci.com)

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  • "

    OF JUDGING YOUR OWN PICTURES.

    We know very well that errors are better recognized in the works of others than in our own; and that often, while reproving little faults in others, you may ignore great ones in yourself. To avoid such ignorance, in the first place make yourself a master of perspective, then acquire perfect knowledge of the proportions of men and other animals, and also, study good architecture, that is so far as concerns the forms of buildings and other objects which are on the face of the earth; these forms are infinite, and the better you know them the more admirable will your work be. And in cases where you lack experience do not shrink from drawing them from nature. But, to carry out my promise above [in the title]—I say that when you paint you should have a flat mirror and often look at your work as reflected in it, when you will see it reversed, and it will appear to you like some other painter’s work, so you will be better able to judge of its faults than in any other way. Again, it is well that you should often leave off work and take a little relaxation, because, when you come back to it you are a better judge; for sitting too close at work may greatly deceive you. Again, it is good to retire to a distance because the work looks smaller and your eye takes in more of it at a glance and sees more easily the discords or disproportion in the limbs and colours of the objects.

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  • Leonardo’s designs for various flight machines. He invented:

    • Parachute
    • Helicopter
    • Glider
    • Ornithopter 
    • "Air Plane" 

    More about his inventions. 

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  • "Stubborn Rigor

    Doomed Rigor”

    Some flames had already lived for a month in a glass furnace when they saw a candle approaching in a beautiful and glittering candlestick* They strove with great longing to reach it; and one of their number left its natural course and wound itself into an unburnt brand upon which it fed, and then passed out at the other end by a small cleft to the candle which was near, and flung itself upon it, and devouring it with the utmost voracity and greed consumed it almost entirely; then desirous of prolonging its own life, it strove in vain to return to the furnace which it had left, but was forced to droop and die together with the candle. So at last in lamentation and regret it was changed to foul smoke, leaving all its sisters in glowing and abiding life and beauty.”

    (Source: discoveringdavinci.com)

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