Leonardo da Vinci: Jack of Everything

I could make another reference to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and discuss how, both Leonardo the man and the turtle are the eldest, wisest, and most level-headed of their pairings; however, part of that would be false (Donatello [the sculptor] was older by 66 years) and I’d have no way of proving the rest.

Jack of all trades, master of… all trades. Leonardo da Vinci was a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. His friends described him to have extraordinary powers of invention, incredible strength and generosity, boundless grace, an infinite mind, a majestic spirit, and in addition to all of that, he was quite the looker. In his time, a person of such vast skill and personality was considered to be a polymath and amassed many friends. In our time, Da Vinci would likely be thought a gross over-achieving, suck-up nerd and I doubt anyone would go near him.

Leonardo of all trades probably would have been a better turn of phrase, though, not that he needs any more credit.

Lesser known for his ground-breaking understanding of the human body, Da Vinci found interest in dissecting not only human corpses, but also cows, birds, monkeys, bears, frogs, and horses. Over the years Da Vinci found himself particularly apt at recognising illness as well as a being’s emotions – rage being a specialty.

Leonardo da Vinci, Recto: The superficial anatomy of the shoulder and neck. Verso: The muscles of the shoulder, c. 1510-1511.
Pen and ink with wash over black chalk, 29.2 x 19.8 cm.
The Royal Collection.
Leonardo da Vinci, The cardiovascular system and principal organs of a woman, c. 1509-1510.
Black and red chalk, ink, yellow wash, finely pricked through, 46.7 x 33.2 cm.
The Royal Collection.

Pop over to The Queen’s Gallery in Buckingham Palace for a crash course on anatomy at the Leonardo da Vinci: Anatomist exhibition. Realise that Da Vinci is much more than the human body? Bring him home with you in either print or digital form: Leonardo da Vinci: Artist, Thinker, Man of Science or Leonardo da Vinci.

-Le Lorrain Andrews

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