Saturday, January 30, 2010

Oh, Leonardo ...

The boys and I have been doing a study -- more of an introduction -- to Leonardo da Vinci. I have a great book called Leonardo da Vinci for Kids that features the story of his life, his ideas, and twenty-one projects to do. It includes simple projects, from sketching a horse or painting a bird, to making a kite or growing a herb garden. My girls worked through the book when they were younger, so it's fun to go back and do it again with the boys.

One thing that we've all found sad is Leonardo's family life. His parents never married. He was sent to live at his father's farm when he was two, but his father was rarely home. He was raised mostly by his grandfather and uncle. He often walked by his mother's home. She had married and had more children, which made Leonardo feel sad and left out. When he was fourteen, he was sent away to work as an apprentice for Verrocchio, where he was exposed to the training and skills he'd become so famous for later in life. Leonardo's life was complex and controversial for some people, but I keep it simple for the boys. They can study him futher as they get older.

There are many of Leonardo's paintings that I love, but The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa obviously stand out. Though he is said to not have any close relationships with women, he painted so many of them. The one pictured above, Madonna and the Carnation, is on the cover of the book we use for school. It's interesting how so many of his paintings feature women and children, without any father figures around. Not surprising, considering his upbringing. I can definitely relate to that, come to think of it.

Do you have a favorite Leonardo da Vinci painting?


  1. I can stare at Leonardo's Vitruvian Man and feel as though I am pondering the most simple mystery that has yet to be solved.

    I think as writers, we can relate to him on the shallowest level. We fill our books with characters and settings that we've either missed out on or lost long ago. In PB we tend to make light of it, in novels we are forced to relive our pain every page, chapter, first revision, second revision, one hundredth revision. It's how it goes.

    Do writers seek professional help less often than our 9-5 counterparts?

  2. I'm really partial to Leonardo's sketches.

  3. You know I was never a big da Vinci fan until I read the book The da Vinci code which really wasn't all about his art but started me thinking how multi talented the man was. I would love to see the Mona Lisa is person some day.

  4. Fascinating post and fascinating subject! The Last Supper would be my favorite of his paintings. :-)

  5. OMG - I am his biggest fan.

    Perhaps, he is most famous for his paintings of the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. But, all his life he was fascinated with flight.

    Well before The Wright Brothers built their first flying machine, DaVinci was designing flight gliding contraptions. He even designed the parachute before airplanes existed.

    He was so convinced that man would one-day fly.

    “For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.” DaVinci

    And although he invented the first armored tank, the first collapsible ladder, and was the father of hydraulic mechanics, there is so much more to the man than meets the eye.

    While he worked to develop military machinery, he was a true pacifist. An artist at heart and hand, he wanted to put an end to war.

    I could go on and on.

  6. The Last Supper for me. When I went to the Louve in Paris, I got to see the Mona Lisa. Very cool!

  7. There has always been something about the Mona Lisa that has fascinated me...

    I just heard on one of the early morning talk shows they now think the Mona Lisa is a self portrait of Leonardo???

  8. I love The Last Supper best with the Mona Lisa second. His paitings are beautiful.