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Leonardo Da Vinci And Plant Forms In Painting

2132 words - 9 pages

Leonardo Da Vinci and Plant Forms in Painting
Leonardo Da Vinci was an artist as well as a scientist. He devoted his time to gaining knowledge through his studies of the natural world. For Leonardo, understanding the world meant experimenting and observing in a cause-and-effect manner. He believed that nature followed a set of laws and they could be uncovered by intensive studies. This eagerness to understand the natural world through examination set him aside from his contemporaries. Through these observations he created a vast number of scientific manuscripts that helped him understand the natural world he celebrated in his paintings.
Leonardo devoted great effort to observing and experimenting natural phenomena. Leonardo believed that natural laws governed the shape and form of all things. He believed in the oneness of nature that it was the fundamental, creative force in all life. This experimentation led Leonardo to a very modern and functional theory of life. Leonardo noted, “Every smallest detail has a function and must be rigorously explained in functional terms that are in accord with nature as opposed to the postulates of the ancients. Human ingenuity...will never discover any inventions more beautiful, more appropriate or more direct than nature, because in her inventions nothing is lacking and nothing is superfluous” (Emboden10-190). Nature will always be moving forward never pushing itself backwards. Leonardo studied the inter-workings of plant forms and their systems. When he studied plant forms he realized that there was a relationship between our internal systems with those of plants and to even a great extent of how water flows over the Earth. As Leonardo furthered his investigation of nature he began to notice that the world perceived is always changing. Nature is always changing because of external factors such as: light, wind, movement, and seasons. All of these elements became more apparent when he began his studies. He now has a new point of reference when it comes to observing nature. The earliest botanical drawings were for the most part made to assist the researcher in the herbs for medicine. The illustrations of the researcher were nothing more than decorative embellishment to the text. With the Renaissance came a revival of naturalism with Leonardo Da Vinci. In the late fourteenth century naturalism was coming about in art of Italy, Germany, and France. Artist of the time did not put focus on the accuracy of plants and flora instead stylized these plants forms for a decorative purpose. Gradually, however the attention to detail in nature was introduced by the Limbourgs in the manuscripts of Flanders, and through them the rest of Europe was inspired. Albrecht Dürer was the German counterpart of Leonardo’s dynamic botanical illustrations. In the watercolor painting Great Piece of Turf, painted in 1503, it shows blades of grass and dandelion flower drawn with precision and compassion (Blunt, and Stearn 28-30). This...

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