A musician, engineer, architect, natural scientist, artist- Da Vinci was a man of varied interest but yet was best known for his remarkable paintings. Not just the free flow of mind and hands, his paintings were carefully crafted pieces that marveled at codes, encryption, and some great mathematical calculations.
Yes. Math embedded in Art! Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, Vitruvian Man, each of his paintings might “just” seem a work of astonishing art at first, but as you look closer, the world of science unravels.
So What Mysteries did this Renaissance Genius Wanted us to Decode?
Let’s begin with the Vitruvian Man. The human body is looked upon as fragile, non-concrete, and asymmetric; Da Vinci looked it in perfect symmetry to coincide in a circle and a square.
The square is tangent to the circle at only one place – which was the base. Leonardo’s magnificent painting of the Renaissance/Vitruvian Man isn’t just aesthetically appealing but explored the mathematical idea of proportions, which took a while for people to figure out. His paintings and writings set the precedent for the world to use the Divine Proportion/Golden Ratio.
But what about his other paintings? What was Mona Lisa smiling about? Is she even smiling? And what’s all happening in The Last Supper? – some interpret that the artist left a clue to the end of the world the painting, estimating it to be March 21, 4006 by bringing mathematical and astrological notions together.
Also, the painting has people’s hand gesturing in fixed directions including Christ’s hand himself, and these gestures surprisingly form a short musical sound that goes like this:
The last supper is Jesus’ last meal with the 12 Apostles before his arrest and crucifixion. “It sounds like a requiem,” Giovanni Maria Pala, an art enthusiast said. “It’s like a soundtrack that emphasizes the passion of Jesus.”
What’s more intriguing is how did Da Vinci made contributions in the existing world’s knowledge when he himself lacked access to formal education in his childhood? He started as an apprentice to Andrea del Verrocchio, a prominent Florentine painter. And here is how his affliction for art and life-size portraits grew.
“The Divine Propotione”
Da Vinci created illustrations for his book which had references of three-dimensional geometric solids to script letters in calligraphy. In the book, Pacioli (Da Vinci’s contemporary) writes about mathematical and artistic proportions and expressions behind the golden ratio and how can it be used in art and architecture.
On the first page is the revelation of secrets to harmonic forms through the use of the Divine proportion, saying “A work necessary for all curious human minds, in which everyone who loves to study philosophy, perspective, painting, sculpture, architecture, music, and other mathematical disciplines will find a very insightful teaching and will delight in diverse questions touching on a very secret science.”
Known as the golden ratio, phi is an irrational number whose terms go on forever after the decimal point without being repeated. Phi has helped humans find perfect symmetry in a number of things around. The Nature, Pyramids, Human beings, Universe, each form of matter seems to be placed in distinct shapes and sizes that are in semblance with the divine proportion. Popularly known as The Da Vinci Code, the work of the famous artist is much debated because of the concept of phi and its relevance in his paintings and writings.
Da Vinci’s Unfinished Business
His unfinished paintings and ambitions for the world of technology intrigues people part in part. From his ambition to design a flying machine, an “aerial screw” as a doppelganger of a modern-day helicopter, he also had an affliction towards warfare and designing ammunitions. (Evident in his sketches for a gigantic crossbow that was intended as much to terrify enemies as to kill them.)
The paintings of this scientific genius are the most revered works of all time. Da Vinci was the definition of what’s called a visionary, but unfortunately, 7000 worthy pages of his writings remain lost or hidden for anyone to ever ponder on!