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Leonardo da Vinci: Modern speculations and discoveries

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Leonardo da Vinci, investigation, attribution and speculation

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The Renaissance Wikipedia:polymath Leonardo da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) is subject to ongoing investigation, attribution of works and speculation about his ideals, motives, and personal life. The fascination with Leonardo appears to have begun within his own lifetime and was strengthened by the publication of his biography in Vasari's Lives in the 16th century. This article concerns recent theories about and studies into his life and works.

Leonardo is arguably one of the reasons that the phrase 'Renaissance Man' is today used as a synonym for 'polymath'; his unquenchable curiosity was equalled only by his powers of invention.[1] He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived.[2] His art works include Wikipedia:Mona Lisa, The Last Supper and his iconic drawing of the Wikipedia:Vitruvian Man.[3] Leonardo is also revered for his technological ingenuity, with models of many of his inventions displayed at museums across the world.

According to art historian Helen Gardner, the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent and "his mind and personality seem to us superhuman, the man himself mysterious and remote".[1] Marco Rosci points out, however, that while there is much speculation about Leonardo, his vision of the world is essentially logical rather than mysterious, and that the empirical methods he employed were unusual for his time.[4] Both these aspects of Leonardo are reflected in the plethora of theories and investigations that surround every aspect of his life and work, which range from the sensational, to the fanciful, to the scientific.


[edit] Leonardo's background

[edit] Leonardo as an Arab

In 2006, Luigi Capasso, director of the Anthropology Research Institute at Wikipedia:Chieti University stated that experts at the institute had determined that fingerprint analysis suggested that Leonardo's mother was of Wikipedia:Middle-Eastern origin as a feature found on one of the fingertips was common to 60% of the Arabic population.[5][6] The idea that Leonardo's mother could have been a slave who came to Wikipedia:Tuscany from Wikipedia:Constantinople — now Wikipedia:Istanbul, Wikipedia:Turkey has also been the object of documentary research.[7]

[edit] Leonardo as a Jew

[8] [9]

[edit] Leonardo mysteries

[edit] Leonardo and the Priory of Sion

In the novel Wikipedia:The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown (2003), Leonardo da Vinci is cited as a member of a secret society called the Wikipedia:Priory of Sion, a society which (in the context of the novel) exists to preserve the truth that Jesus (WP) was married to Mary Magdalene and that their line of descendants continues. In the preface of the book, Brown makes the claim: FACT: The Priory of Sion, a European secret society founded in 1099, is a real organization. In 1975 Paris's Bibliothèque Nationale discovered parchments known as "Les Dossiers Secrets", identifying numerous members of the Priory of Sion, including Sir Isaac Newton, Sandro Botticelli, Victor Hugo and Leonardo da Vinci.[10]

"Wikipedia:Les Dossiers Secrets" had been introduced into the Wikipedia:Bibliothèque Nationale in 1967 by Wikipedia:Pierre Plantard who had the help of Wikipedia:Philippe de Chérisey in creating the parchments, and of Wikipedia:Gérard de Sède in developing the idea of the Priory of Sion. De Sède also published, beginning in 1967, several books claiming that other information about the Priory of Sion had been discovered elsewhere in France.

[edit] Leonardo as a Cathar

[11] [12]

[edit] Signs and symbols in Leonardo's paintings

[edit] The mysterious Mona Lisa

Study and speculation concerning Leonardo's best kown portrait, the Mona Lisa range from scholarly attempts to ascertain the identity of the sitter, known in Italy as La Gioconda (the joking one), to attempts to prove that she is Leonardo's gay lover, otherwise his youthful companion Salai, in drag. Clear evidence has been discovered that she was Lisa Gherardini, wife of Francesco del Giocondo, making her indeed "la Gioconda" [13] and accounting for the smile, which Leonardo possibly used as a symbol of the name,[14] just as he used a juniper bush (ginevra) behing the head in a portrait of a young lady presume to be Wikipedia:Ginevra de Benci.

Sigmund Freud (WP) theorised that Leonardo's repressed relationship with his mother Caterina caused him later to paint her face as the Mona Lisa.[15] This theory has been elaborated on in further writings, including a novel. Recently a claim has been made that tiny letters have been painted in the eyes of the portrait, the symbolic initials of the names of Leonardo and his mother.

In a novel "The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci" by Dmitri Merejcovski, it is suggested that Leonardo imbues the portrait with his own inner sentiments to the extent that it represents a synthesis of artist and model.[16] Other writers have taken this in a much more literal manner and attempted to prove by various means that the Mona Lisa is in fact a portrait of the artist himself. In an attempt to prove this, a request has been made to exhume Leonardo's body.

Until recent years most speculation about this painting has been focussed on the fact that there are a large number of early copies. It has been suggested that one of these copies, rather than that in the Louvre Museum, is the "original" and that the present painting is perhaps a second version by the artist.

[edit] Recent attributions

[edit] Holy Family

Previously attributed to Wikipedia:Fra Bartolomeo. After recent cleaning, the Borghese Gallery sought attribution as a work of Leonardo's youth, based on the presence of a fingerprint similar to one that appears in The Lady with the Ermine. Result of investigation not available.[17]

[edit] Repentant Magdalene

[18] Recently attributed as a Leonardo by Carlo Pedretti. Previously regarded as the work of Wikipedia:Giampietrino who painted a number of similar Magdalenes.[19] Carlo Pedretti's attribution of this painting is not accepted by other scholars, eg Carlo Bertelli, (former director of the Brera Art Gallery in Milan), who said this painting is not by Leonardo and that the subject could be a Lucretia with the knife removed.[20]

[edit] Holy Infants Embracing

[edit] Christ carrying the Cross

Previously attributed by Sotheby's to Gian-Francesco de Maineri.[21][22] Attributed to Leonardo by its present owner.[21] Attribution based on the similarity of the tormentors of Christ to drawings made by Rubens of the Battle of Anghiari. According to Forbes Magazine, Leonardo expert Carlo Pedretti said that he knew of three similar paintings and that "All four paintings, he believed, were likely the work of Leonardo's studio assistants and perhaps even the master himself."[21]

[edit] Portrait of a Gentleman with a White Dog

[23] [24]

[edit] La Bella Principessa

This was attributed to Leonardo by Martin Kemp. [25] [26]

[edit] The Lucan portrait of Leonardo da Vinci

The work was formally attributed to Leonardo by Leonardo specialist Professor Peter Hohenstatt for the Sorrento City Council's investigation in 2009. [27]

[edit] The Bicycle

[edit] The Shroud of Turin

[edit] The Voynich Manuscript

The Wikipedia:Voynich Manuscript is a manuscript of 200 pages, dating from the late 15th century, written in a script which has never been deciphered and illustrated with pictures depicting quaint female figures, fanciful botanical specimens and charts relating to astronomy. It was discovered at a Jesuit Monastery in Northern Italy in 1912 and is now in the Beinecke Rare Book Library of Yale University. It has been suggested by Edith Sherwood that the book was authored by Leonardo while he was still a child.[28]

[edit] Scientific investigations

[edit] Fingerprints

[29] [30] [31] [32] [33] [34]

[edit] Reconstructing Leonardo's fingerprint

[edit] Applying fingerprinting to the attribution of paintings

[edit] Constructing and testing designs for machines

[edit] Tank, glider, great bow

[edit] Robot and robotic lion

[edit] Exhuming Leonardo

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Gardner, Helen (1970). Art through the Ages, p. 450–456.
  2. Vasari, Boltraffio, Castiglione, "Anonimo" Gaddiano, Berensen, Taine, Fuseli, Rio, Bortolon, etc. See specific quotations under heading "Leonardo, the legend".
  3. Vitruvian Man is referred to as "iconic" at the following websites and many others:Vitruvian Man, Fine Art Classics, Key Images in the History of Science; Curiosity and difference; The Guardian: The Real da Vinci Code
  4. Rosci, Marco (1977). Leonardo.
  5. Rossella Lorenzi, Da Vinci Fingerprint Reveals Arab Heritage? Discovery News, Wikipedia:Discovery Channel, October 28, 2006.
  6. Marta Falconi, Da Vinci's print may paint new picture of artist, Rome, Wikipedia:The Guardian, December 2, 2006.
  7. We've got Da Vinci's fingerprint MSN News, Wikipedia:Microsoft MSN
  8. Samuel Kurinsky and Father Franco Bontempi, Leonardo da Vinci Artist, Humanist, Scientist, Jew[?], Fact Paper 35
  9. [1]
  10. Dan Brown (2003). The Da Vinci Code, Doubleday.
  11. The Secret Supper
  12. Telegraph
  13. Mona Lisa – Heidelberg discovery confirms identity. Wikipedia:University of Heidelberg. URL accessed on 2010-07-04.
  14. Kemp, Martin (2006). Leonardo da Vinci: the marvellous works of nature and man, Oxford University Press. URL accessed 10 October 2010.
  15. Nicholl, Charles (2002-03-28). "The myth of the Mona Lisa". Wikipedia:guardian.co.uk (London). http://books.guardian.co.uk/lrb/articles/0,6109,675653,00.html. Retrieved 2007-10-06.</li>
  16. Dmitri Merejcovski, trans. Bernard Gilbert Guerney, The Romance of Leonardo da Vinci, Heritage Press, New York, (1938)</li>
  17. Arie, Sophie (16 February 2005). "Fingerprint puts Leonardo in the frame". Wikipedia:The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/italy/story/0,12576,1415336,00.html. Retrieved 2007-09-27.</li>
  18. [2]</li>
  19. A lost Leonardo? Top art historian says maybe. Universal Leonardo. URL accessed on 2007-09-27.</li>
  20. Bertelli, Carlo (November 19, 2005). "Due allievi non fanno un Leonardo" (in Italian). Il Corriere della Sera. http://img204.imageshack.us/img204/6291/bertellileonardosr5.jpg. Retrieved 2007-09-27.</li>
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Stephane Fitch DaVinci's Fingerprints, 12.22.03 accessed 7 July 2009. Martin Kemp, the expert on Leonardo's fingerprints, had not examined the painting when the article was written.</li>
  22. A similar image, without the tormentors, is in the Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg. [3]</li>
  23. [4] Maike Vogt-Luerssen, A New Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, (2007-08-08)</li>
  24. [5] National Gallery of Art, Washington, Cariani, portrait of a man with a dog, online catalogue </li>
  25. [6] Fingerprint points to $19,000 portrait being revalued as £100m work by Leonardo da Vinci</li>
  26. [7] Milton Esterow, The Real Thing, ARTnews, (January 2010)</li>
  27. Gianni Glinni, Lucanian Leonardo da Vinci's Fingerprints Found, online at: hubpages.com/hub/LeonardoFingerprints </li>
  28. Edith Sherwood, Leonardo da Vinci and the Voynich Manuscript [8] (2002)</li>
  29. [9] Marani's book, possibly the spark that started the fingerprint hunt, 2001</li>
  30. [10] Scientists re-create Leonardo da Vinci's fingerprint, CBCNews, (2006-12-02)</li>
  31. reconstruct Leonard fingerprint</li>
  32. [11] David Grann, Peter Paul Biro, Fingerprints, and a Lost Leonardo, Wikipedia:The New Yorker, (2010-07-12)</li>
  33. [12] Italian police 'dust' disputed paintings for sign of Leonardo's fingerprints, The Ottawa Citizen, (2007-12-02)</li>
  34. [13] Forensic Fingerprints and Paintings, Art Experts, Inc.</li></ol>
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