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Saturday, July 07, 2018

Leonardo da Vinci — Renaissance man | Entertainment - The Kingston Whig-Standard

"Most people have at least a passing acquaintance with the name Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) and are probably also aware that he is the artist who created two of perhaps the most well-known paintings in the world — the “Mona Lisa” and the “Last Supper”", inform Kamille Parkinson, PhD in Art History from Queen’s University.

Leonardo da Vinci, Self-supporting bridge, ink on paper. Self-supporting bridge model, wood, Pump House Steam Museum.
Photo: Kamile Parkinson

But many do not know that he was a man of a multitude of talents, including being an inventor of some incredibly advanced technology for his time. An exhibition currently up at the Pump House Steam Museum, titled “Leonardo da Vinci: Relentless Curiosity,” explores this lesser-known side of da Vinci and is a fun and interesting diversion for people of all ages.

Leonardo da Vinci was an extraordinary man living in an extraordinary time — the Renaissance, which ran from roughly the 14th century to the 16th century and had its peak in the latter half of the 15th century. The term Renaissance literally means “rebirth” in French (re-naissance), and it refers to a revival, or rebirth, of Classical (ancient Greek) themes in art and literature, and a return to the realistic depiction of nature through close observation. As well, the Renaissance saw the resurrection of the Greek philosophy of “humanism,” which elevated the importance of human dignity, ideas and capabilities. Humanism embraced the concept of Roman civic virtues and, in addition to an emphasis on reason and service to the state, humanism also recognized the importance of creative individuals and their role in contributing to the prestige of their homeland.

[For the record, the idea of the Renaissance itself reinforces the erroneous, Monty Pythonesque vision of the Middle Ages (the intervening period between the decline of the Roman Empire and the rise of the Renaissance) as the ignorant, plague-and-misery-ridden Dark Ages, by assuming the guise of the saviour of art and culture from the dark morass of ignorance. But it’s worth noting that Medieval Europe wasn’t a centuries-long vale of tears — it saw its own advances in learning, science, religion, arts and architecture, and set the stage for important changes in economy and government. But I digress.]...

...Da Vinci reveals his relentless curiosity through thousands of pages of notes on an enormous range of subjects, liberally sprinkled with sketches and drawings. His life was not long enough to allow him to pursue even a fraction of his ideas, but he succeeded in mapping the route that art and science were to take for generations. 

This is what the Pump House Steam Museum exhibition gives us a glimpse of, and also provides some hands-on exhibits so that you can test out some of da Vinci’s inventions for yourself (and see which ones worked and which ones didn’t). The exhibition also links some of his inventions to similar ideas produced in the present day.  

Source: The Kingston Whig-Standard

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