Da Vinci and His Insatiable Need

~Infrared image of Da Vinci’s “lost” painting of Christ~ the Salvator Mundi~ National Gallery~

I can still remember the day that I stood in front of the Mona Lisa. It was 1993 and I had never seen the work of a master artist up close. It was amazing to think that I stood in front of a work created by Leonardo Da Vinci in the 1500s. One of the best museums I have ever visited was the Musée du Louvre in Paris. I was just a girl then and I would appreciate the history so much more today. At the time, I couldn’t even understand why I couldn’t use a flash to take a photograph of Da Vinci’s iconic image?

Da Vinci was such an amazing person. Aside from his works of art he was very inquisitive and loved to learn about how things functioned. Of course this fascination inspired his works, but his interests seemed to go further than basic curiosity. I admire his studies of the human body. His intricate pieces appear to jump off of the paper. They are alive in some strange way.

This afternoon I watched a fabulous special on KNME. It was titled “Da Vinci: The Lost Treasure.” In the documentary, Fiona Bruce “uncovers the story of Leonardo Da Vinci.” He was “considered to be one of the greatest artists who ever lived” and has been called an “enigmatic genius.” He was very enigmatic. I believe that much of the mystery surrounding this man was lost when he passed away.

In the documentary hosted by Fiona she traveled to New York to see a “lost” painting. The painting is believed to be an original Da Vinci piece. Conservation specialists revealed techniques used to examine the painting and it was very interesting. With infrared imaging they were able to look under layers of paint to reveal draft designs. This is something a copycat would not have done and is considered a primary reason this painting is genuine.

I knew some things about Leonardo, but there were a few interesting things I did not know. I learned that at 13 years old, he moved to Florence as an apprentice to a master artist. At 13? Wow! It was awesome to learn that “he kept a notebook always dangling from his belt.” His mind moved so fast that “he became notorious for not finishing his works.” I couldn’t believe that by the age of 20 he became an official part of the Florentine Painters! Makes me feel like I’m wasting my life away.

My favorite part of the documentary discussed how fascinated Da Vinci was with the human body. He mapped the geometry of the human body. The artist was so intrigued by the architecture of the physique that he practiced dissection in local hospitals. This helped him understand and chart the human body to see how it functioned. He compared the inner workings of the body to nature (i.e. the lungs to a branches of a tree or to a river). This sounds somewhat along the lines of the Doctrine of Signatures with regard to symbolism and shapes.

This doctrine is philosophical and is tied to herbs, plants and their medicinal uses. Though the Signatura Rerum or Signature of All Things was not published until 1621, the concepts were studied by several people in 16th century Europe. Studies along these lines went back even further to the Romans and Greeks. Da Vinci was so in tune with symbolism which I find awesome! This leads me to believe that this doctrine was of interest to him? Most scientists write off the Doctrine of Signatures, but I believe.

It was so depressing to see paintings like the huge image of the Last Supper in a state of deterioration. Accoring to Fiona’s research, it is about 20 percent of what it use to be. She called the painting “a ghost” of what it once was. This is apparently because Da Vinci chose to paint with oil paints on dry plaster, which is not how a fresco should be painted.

I learned so much from this documentary. It would be a dream come true for me to visit an archive holding the original sketch books of this master artist. It is so amazing how the human mind can continuously seek knowledge, yet never satiate the need for or hunger for more. Sometimes I feel rather “Da Vinci” in that respect.

~Da Vinci’s “lost” painting of Christ- the Salvator Mundi exhibited at the National Gallery~

Explore posts in the same categories: Art, Artists, Body and Mind, Creativity, Documentary, Edification, Knowledge, Men, Museums, Philosophy, Worthy Reads, Writers, Writing

One Comment on “Da Vinci and His Insatiable Need”


  1. Enjoyed this post very much.


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