Saturday, April 15, 2006

hey mona!!! .... ooooh mona!!

Today is one of my favourite's birthday.... He, who had a keen eye and quick mind that led him to make important scientific discoveries... and yet, he never published his ideas. He...who was a gentle vegetarian and loved animals and despised war... and yet, he worked as a military engineer to invent advanced and deadly weapons. He, who was one of the greatest painters of the Italian Renaissance.....yet he left only a handful of completed paintings.

Guessed who???

Am talking of Leonardo Da Vinci - architect, musician, anatomist, inventor, sculptor, geometer and painter par excellence. His full birth name was "Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci", meaning "Leonardo, son of [Mes]ser Piero from Vinci". In his lifetime, Leonardo — he had no surname in the modern sense; "da Vinci" simply means "from Vinci"....Most famous for his even more famous paintings- the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper.

But then enough is talked about her and his art... Lets instead delve into the designer that was Leonardo. He conceived of ideas vastly ahead of his time, notably inventing the helicopter, a tank, use of concentrated solar power, the calculator, a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics, the double hull, and others too numerous to mention.
As a student of architecture, one of the most famous symbols of perfect geometry came to me through the Vitruvian Man. Leonardo's 'Vitruvian Man' was one of the most revered descriptions of a human composition in the Renaissance. Vitruvius was an ancient Roman architect who wrote a series of ten books on architecture - one of the few collections of books of its type that survived into the Renaissance. In the third volume, which is on the proportions of temples, he states that these buildings should be based on the proportions of man, because the human body is the model of perfection. He justifies this by stating that the human body with arms and legs extended fits into the perfect geometric forms, the circle, and the square. What he could not complete, Da Vinci did.
Leonardo was able to solve this problem by drawing a beautifully proportioned figure and then finding these truths within the figure. The unit of choice was the head. Leonardo's figure has a one 1:8 ratio with its own head. In other words, it is 8 heads tall.
"From the roots of his hair to the bottom of his chin is a tenth of a man's height; from the bottom of the chin to the top of the head is one eighth of his height; from the top of the breast to the roots of the hair will be the seventh part of the whole man. "
~ Notebooks of Leonardo

Notice how Leonardo conveniently shows us the man's left foot in profile. He even places the heel in front of the big toe of the right foot so that we can see the full length. The length of the foot is the same as the length of the forearm - demonstrating a golden relationship between the hand and the foot. The length of the hand can be related to the measurement of the face - from the chin to the hairline. The face in turn is divided into thirds, which coincide with the eyebrows and the tip of the nose - echoed in the length of the ears. The line at the eyebrows is the golden division of the entire head.

The golden relationship is the key to the proportions of the entire figure. For example, if we examine the length of the arm from the top of the shoulder to the tip of the fingers, we find that the elbow is the golden division. If we examine the length from the elbow to the fingers, we find the base of the hand at the wrist is the golden division. If we measure the hand, the fingers begin at the golden division, and fingers themselves are composed of segments with a golden relationship to each other. We can find the same pattern of proportion in the legs, feet, and torso.
However, the most dramatic illustration of the golden portion is the division of the body at the navel. The relation ship of the distance from the top of the head to the navel is to the distance from the navel to the feet the same as the navel to the feet is to the entire height of the figure.
It is this wonderful understanding of the human body and geometry/maths that made Leonardo such a keen observer- a fact most well proven in his paintings.
ps: The mathematical Fibonacci series and Golden Section (for those who don't know of it, more later) should not be confused with having been worked out by Leonardo Da Vinci. It was Leonardo Da Pisa, who lived 200 years before Da Vinci!
pps: The Fibonacci Series were based on the Indian numbering systems and arithmetics....!!!


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lovemarks said...

thanks sara!

Menagerie said...

wow, thats interesting read. I didn't know a lot about this. :)

lovemarks said...

menagerie- glad you liked it! .. loads of it coming this way...:)

White Magpie said...

Very well written!! Do you like paintings?