Leonardo’s Unprecedented Work in Science Leonardo da Vinci was a skilled artist of the Renaissance. He was the painter of several masterpieces that are well-known to this day including the famous “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper. ” However, these famous art pieces are not all that da Vinci is remembered for. Along with being a creative artist, Leonardo da Vinci was also an innovative scientist. Leonardo’s unprecedented work in science was apparent in both his studies of anatomy and his various inventions.
One of the ways in which Leonardo was innovative in science was through his studies of anatomy. Leonardo’s fascination with the human body is evident in many of his pieces of art. For da Vinci to be an effective artist he believed he must better understand the body. Da Vinci wasn’t the only artist to have believed this either. Lorenzo Ghiberti was known to have said that “the painter should ‘know anatomy'”(Kemp, Leonardo 92). To get a deeper understanding for the human body and how it worked Leonardo was known to have used comparative anatomy.
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He did this by drawing pictures of and taking “notes on the anatomy of horses, birds, bats, oxen, pigs, dogs, monkeys, lions, and frogs”(Dictionary Vol. VIII 204). Da Vinci also dissected several of these animals so that he could “compare” their organs to those of humans. Leonardo didn’t favor studying over the actual hands on experience. If he had the choice of dissecting a horse or reading about the dissection of a horse, you better believe he’d choose the dissection over the reading. “His greatest studies of the brain and the heart, […] were based on organs from an ungulate, probably an ox”(Kemp, Leonardo 94).
Da Vinci was very interested in the human heart and how it functioned. So to further understand it, he began studying the heart. Leonardo later developed a functioning model of the human heart. This model led to the discovery of the actual size of the atria and ventricles. “He discovered the true shape and size of the cerebral ventricles through making wax casts of them”(Dictionary Vol. VIII 202). With that being done, da Vinci now had a much clearer understanding for the heart and furthermore for the human body.
By knowing how the heart functioned he could draw more precise diagrams of the muscles and veins. Ultimately, this gave da Vinci a better understanding of the human body and therefore made him an effective artist. Another way in which Leonardo was a creative scientist was in his many inventions. Some of Leonardo’s most recognizable inventions come in the form of war machines. Most of the drawings we see today are of the crossbow and catapult. The most famous being the catapult (Heydenreich 95). Da Vinci based many of his doodles on simple machines.
He was known to have incorporated levers, pulleys, and wheels into most of his inventions. Different forms of levers were used when he began to study human flight. Leonardo was fascinated with the idea of flight and set aside much of his time to study flying machines and the idea of human flight. His many sketches of flying machines were based on the wings of birds and bats. In one of Leonardo’s illustrations he has a flying machine that “has reticulated wings like a bat’s, a fanned-out tail like a bird’s, and a cockpit or framework shaped rather like a kayak”(Nicholl 150).
His drawing was later believed to be what is known today as a hang-glider. Now, when you are asked, “Who was Leonardo da Vinci? ” You can answer, “He was an artist, scientist, inventor, renaissance man and genius. ” Da Vinci discovered the actual size and shape of the heart. He also was an inventor of things like the hang-glider and crossbow. Through Leonardo’s studies on anatomy and various inventions we can conclude that Leonardo da Vinci was a man of vision who was well ahead of his time.