Copyright

Leonardo Da Vinci: Drawings, Sculptures & Inventions

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: The Rise of the Vernacular and the Decline of Latin

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
 Replay
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:01 Leonardo da Vinci Background
  • 1:18 Da Vinci's Drawings
  • 3:24 Da Vinci's Sculptures
  • 4:31 Da Vinci's Inventions
  • 6:31 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Timeline
Autoplay
Autoplay
Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jonathan Morgan

Jonathan is a college professor specializing in art history and has a master's degree in fine art.

Though his most famous work is a painting, Leonardo da Vinci's talents and interests seem to have had no end. The small handful of finished works we have by the artist are only a glimmer of the 4,000+ pages of sketches and notes he left behind. This lesson covers his exploits beyond his stunning paintings.

Leonardo Da Vinci Background

Leonardo da Vinci is one of history's most fascinating individuals. From his humble beginnings born in April of 1452 as the illegitimate son of an Italian notary through his meteoric rise in the Florentine art world up to his death (supposedly while being cradled in the arms of King Francis I of France in May of 1519), Leonardo pushed his considerable intellect to the absolute limits of human potential.

His most famous work is the Mona Lisa, arguably the most famous image ever created in Europe. However, many of his contemporaries thought his painting was constantly suffering due to his many and varied interests. Even though only about 20 works have been attributed to him, with more under debate, it's the 4,000+ pages from notebooks and other scraps of paper Leonardo used to record his ideas that show the true breadth of his talent. In these pages, we see his numerous studies of human anatomy, botany, engineering, painting, sculpture, architecture, astronomy, and even fashion design, just to name a few. These notes are regarded as great works of art alongside his paintings - not just for their artistic value, but for their testament to Leonardo's incomparable skill.

Da Vinci's Drawings

The many drawings he left behind are closely connected to the paintings Leonardo is best known for. He stated numerous times in writing that all of his explorations into various scientific fields made him a more skilled painter. Given that he believed painting to be the best way humanity could reach total understanding of the world, his dedication to science while still considering himself an artist is understandable. One well known work of this genre is the Vitruvian Man (1490) that shows Leonardo taking the writings of the ancient Roman architect and engineer Vitruvius and creating a visual representation of the ideal ratios in the human body.

Vitruvian Man

In the drawing, we can see evidence of Leonardo exploring the same kind of mathematical concept that the Ancient Greeks and Romans used to make the works that become the very foundation of the Italian Renaissance that also inform his uncanny skill in representing ideal human form.

Other drawings are more direct in their scientific nature, like The Fetus and Lining of the Uterus (c. 1511-13).

The Fetus and Lining of the Uterus

While inaccurate by today's standards with an impossibly spherical shape to the uterus and an incorrect representation of the uterine lining, it was a monumental achievement for its time. In sketches like these, Leonardo pioneers what are now standard methods of scientific illustration like cutaway and exploded views.

Some drawings are, in fact, studies for his painted works like the cartoon for Virgin and Child with Saint Anne and the Infant Saint John (c. 1505-07).

Cartoon

In drawings like this, we see Leonardo's mastery of the human figure that his scientific studies allowed. The people in the drawing are majestic, graceful, and have the same idealized form of the most iconic Classical Greek sculptures. Even Leonardo's trademark 'sfumato' technique, meaning 'smoky,' can be seen, which involves almost invisible variations in shading to make shapes appear shrouded in smoke or fog with shadows taking on an almost solid appearance.

Da Vinci's Sculptures

While none of the sculpture Leonardo is said to have made survive to this day, we have plans and sketches for what must have been truly impressive works. The most iconic is a piece referred to as Il Cavallo (c. 1482-1493), or The Horse in English. This was a massive 24 foot tall statue of a horse meant to be a tribute to the father of the Duke of Milan, who Leonardo worked for as an artist and engineer. That engineering background was essential in Leonardo's detailed plans to take the full-sized clay model he made and cast it in bronze as the largest bronze sculpture ever made. Tragically, the bronze was taken from the project to make cannons to defend Milan against the invading French army. The French eventually captured Milan, and Leonardo fled back to his hometown of Florence as the French army used his clay model of Il Cavallo for target practice, destroying it entirely. Interestingly enough, the sculpture was finished almost 500 years later in 1999 by Leonardo da Vinci's Horse, Inc., a non-profit group started for the sole purpose of finishing the sculpture.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about Study.com
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account
Support