Leonardo da Vinci: Renaissance Man


When Alan and I were visiting Jon and Gerlinde in Spokane, WA, we spent one morning at a wonderful exhibition on Leonardo da Vinci. Although I’ve seen his works in Florence, Paris, Rome, NYC…and probably other places as well…I’ve never seen such a fascinating, comprehensive explanation of his life and works.

Leonardo da Vinci lived about 500 years ago—for only 67 years—but has since been heralded as the archetypical Renaissance man—a man of unparalleled genius, creativity, and diversity in western civilization. For instance, did you realize that he had journals full of sketches for countless inventions such as an automobile and a flying machine?In recent years, many of his inventions have been modeled out just to see what they would have looked like. Here is his idea for an auto-mobile. He also conceptualized helicopters, tanks, solar power, a means for walking on the water, and a calculator (ETC!).He wrote everything backward (perhaps to keep his ideas from being stolen?), and because he never published his works and was so far ahead of his time in thinking, few of his ideas ever had much impact on the mechanical development of mankind.Leonardo is most famous for his paintings, in particular the Mona Lisa and the most reproduced religious painting in the world: The Last Supper. His use of perspective was monumentally innovative, and his successful experimentation with oil paint over tempera revolutionized painting.Because he was illegitimate, he was ostracized and not allowed the benefits of formal education, although he was apprenticed to the Florentine artist, Verrocchio, at the age of 14. The story is told that Leonardo did such an incredible job of helping paint Verrocchio’s The Baptism of Christ that his mentor put down his brush and said he would never paint again, having been so far exceeded by Leonardo’s brilliance.I found myself totally captivated by this man’s stunning mind, imagination, and diversity, and I was particularly taken with some of his quotable sayings (like the one above).I couldn’t help but compare him to a man who lived 2,000 years ago—for only 33 years—and is still considered the greatest man on earth: Jesus Christ. Although Jesus never wrote a single book, his life and works are more quoted than any other person’s. He was the the central figure in da Vinci’s paintings, and the true Renaissance man in that he encouraged us all to be reborn in order to enter, not an earthly kingdom, but the kingdom of God: “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).  Jesus said,  “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6), and  “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25). Talk about learning how to fly and lifting our eyes skyward! I’m flying, and the end of the trip is heaven! I hope you’re experiencing the wonders of the world’s greatest Renaissance Man—Jesus Christ!

“I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.” (Exodus 19:4)

“They that wait on the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles” (Isaiah 40:31)