April 15th marks the birth of Leonardo da Vinci. Historians and scholars have given him the title, Renaissance Man, because of his breadth and depth of knowledge from architecture to paleontology, botany to engineering, geology to astronomy, and much more. Many have written about his brilliance, but what I find most remarkable is his humanity. Leonardo da Vinci, with his insatiable curiosity, pursued knowledge with a zeal that produced enormous outcomes that continue to influence our world.
The Annunciation, which is located in the Uffizi, Florence, is one of my favourites. The scene is based on Luke 1:26-36 which announces the coming of Jesus.
“The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; for you have found favor with God.”
When you look back over 500 years, there can be a few issues relating to attribution. It was originally thought to be a work by another artist of that time. Now, the experts believe that it was a collaboration between Leonardo and his mentor, Andrea di Cione aka Verrocchio.
Here’s where it becomes interesting:
Leonardo received instructions to finish the angel and the background, which he did using paint without lead. Verrocchio, on the other hand, used lead-based paint. Leonardo’s brush strokes were light, whereas Verrocchio preferred to use heavy brush strokes. When the Annunciation was x-rayed, Leonardo’s angel was invisible. How very like Leonardo to add dramatic flair to the event.
Happy Birthday Leonardo. You are my reminder to cultivate a curious mind, to search for the unknown and work with a glad heart to generate good things. As you said, centuries ago:
“Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it.”