Roots of Leonardo Da Vinci

Roots of Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci, the multi-faceted genius of the Italian Renaissance was from, as his name implies, the little town of Vinci. The origins of Vinci go back to the Etruscans. It lies about six miles from Empoli and twenty miles west of Florence. Leonardo’s traditional birthplace home on the outskirts of the town in Anchiano still exists. The home underwent a $1.5 million restoration project which was completed in late June 2012. Leonardo di Ser Piero d’Antonio di Ser Piero di Ser Guido Da Vinci, (his full legal name) was the natural and first-born son of Ser Piero, a country notary. Ser Piero’s father, grandfather, and great-grandfather, were notaries of distinction and Ser Piero was subsequently appointed notary to the Signoria of Florence. Leonardo’s mother was one Caterina, who afterwards married Acchattabriga di Piero del Vaccha of Vinci. According to recent discoveries, Caterina may have been a former slave. Ser Piero’s wealthy banker friend Vanni di Niccolo di Ser Vanni owned a slave named Caterina. This was not uncommon in Florence at the time. At the time of Leonardo’s birth, there were more than 550 slaves in the city, mostly from the Middle East and the Balkans. When Ser Piero’s friend Vanni died, he left Ser Piero as the executor of the will and heir to his house in Via Ghibellina. He left the slave girl to his wife Agnola. However, after 1451 there is no information about the slave girl, while it is known that Agnola continued to live in the home inherited by Ser Piero. Speculation is that Ser Piero allowed Agnola to remain in the home...
Michelangelo’s David

Michelangelo’s David

A far more important commission was intrusted to Michelangelo in August…1501. Condivi, after mentioning his return to Florence, tells the history of the colossal David in these words: “Here he stayed some time, and made the statue which stands in front of the great door of the Palace of the Signory, and is called the Giant by all people. It came about in this way. The Board of Works at S. Maria del Fiore owned a piece of marble nine cubits in height, which had been brought from Carrara some hundred years before by a sculptor insufficiently acquainted with his art. This was evident, inasmuch as, wishing to convey it more conveniently and with less labour, he had it blocked out in the quarry, but in such a manner that neither he nor any one else was capable of extracting a statue from the block, either of the same size, or even on a much smaller scale. The marble being, then, useless for any good purpose, Andrea del Monte San Savino thought that he might get possession of it from the Board, and begged them to make him a present of it, promising that he would add certain pieces of stone and carve a statue from it. Before they made up their minds to give it, they sent for Michelangelo; then, after explaining the wishes and the views of Andrea, and considering his own opinion that it would be possible to extract a good thing from the block, they finally offered it to him. Michelangelo accepted, added no pieces, and got the statue out so exactly, that, as any...
Albrecht Dürer

Albrecht Dürer

Born 21 May 1471, Albrecht Dürer was a German painter, printmaker, engraver, mathematician, and theorist. He has been regarded as the greatest artist of the Northern Renaissance. His ambitious work with woodcuts helped to revolutionize the medium. At the age of 15, Dürer began as an apprentice to the leading artist of Nuremberg, Michael Wolgemut. Though Wolgemut produced various types of art, his greatest focus was on woodcuts for books. Dürer’s godfather, Anton Koberger, the most successful publisher in Germany made extensive use of woodcut illustrations coming from the Wolgemut workshop. It is believed that Dürer didn’t cut woodblocks himself, but special craftsmen did the work. Durer either drew directly on the blocks, or attached drawings to the block to be cut by craftsmen. After completing his apprenticeship, Albrecht spent four years learning skills from other artists. He left Nuremberg in 1490 for this Wanderjahre. During this time he painted his first self-portrait for his fiancee Agnes Frey. After completing his Wanderjahre, he arrived back in Nuremberg in July of 1494 and married Agnes. Three months later left again, this time for Italy. He made watercolor sketches during his travels which are the first pure landscape studies known in Western art history. Among the most famous works of Albrecht Dürer are sixteen designs for the Apocalypse created in 1498. His success and reputation spread throughout Europe and the ability to promote and distribute his work certainly influenced other artists who later would collaborate with printmakers to distribute their...