We’re throwing it way back to the 1400s on this Throwback Thursday. Tomorrow would mark the 564th birthday of one of the greatest minds this world has known, Leonardo da Vinci. Da Vinci was an inventor, architect, scientist, musician, and, most famously, an artist. To celebrate his birthday, let’s look back at some of his artwork and see what all the fuss is about. Grab some pizza, too. He was Italian, so he would appreciate you eating lots and lots of pizza.
“The Annunciation” is Leonardo da Vinci’s earliest work that we know of. Da Vinci partnered with fellow artist Andrea del Verrocchio to complete this piece. It is fitting that his first painting depicts a religious event, as a religious theme can be found in a lot of his most famous pieces. It is thought that this painting was completed at some point during 1472-1475, which would put da Vinci in his early 20s. As the title of the piece suggests, “The Annunciation” is depicted on the canvas. The angel Gabriel is telling Mary she will conceive and give birth to the Son of God. If you look at Gabriel’s wings, you’ll notice they appear to have been lengthened. It is believed da Vinci originally modeled the wings after a bird’s and a later artist lengthened them, making them more angelic.
There is actually a lot of controversy around certain works and whether they should be attributed to Leonardo da Vinci. “St. John the Baptist,” however, is generally believed to be da Vinci’s final painting. The masterpiece was completed three to six years before his death in 1519. The saint has an enigmatic look on his face, one many compare to the “Mona Lisa.” Prior to this painting, St. John the Baptist had been portrayed very gaunt. Da Vinci’s interpretation of the saint influenced other artists to paint him with a healthier appearance. Observers will also note that St. John looks effeminate in this painting. Art historians take this to be a nod toward Leonardo da Vinci’s homoerotic leanings.
Probably Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous painting after the “Mona Lisa,” “The Last Supper” is a complex, beautiful work of art. Da Vinci was commissioned to paint the masterpiece to help decorate a church that was being renovated. Unfortunately, the painting was hung on a wall outside, so it was exposed to the elements. Less than 20 years after it was completed, the paint was already flaking. If you’re ever able to study this painting in person, you’ll notice an arch near the bottom center of the painting. This is where part of a door to the church was cut, as workers did not even recognize what they were cutting to be a painting.
Since you may have already seen the paintings described above, I wanted to include one that would be new to you. “Sala delle Asse,” which means “room of the tower” in English, was painted by Leonardo da Vinci around 1498. When da Vinci was painting “The Last Supper,” he was given a room to work in which was located in the Sforza Castle. It was the walls and ceiling of this room that he was responsible for decorating, which is what the “Sala delle Asse” is.