The unique genius Leonardo da Vinci born April 1452, died 1519 was self educated, a medieval man of several disciplines, was also a pupil of extreme empiricism. Specializing in the theories of experimentation followed by reason, it stands as evident that Leonardo regarded the traditions of his craft as a secondary principal against the might of innovation. The artist and engineer gave the world some of the most valued sources of knowledge, yet he utilised traditional crafts to do this. Gould tries to make the case that Leonardo was amazing in the accuracy of his empirical conclusions but he used his basically medieval and renaissance concept of the universe to pose the great question1″ The traditional crafts were a mechanism for Leonardo to wield at his will.

It was those who surrounded Leonardo such as Verrocchio who sowed the seeds of excellence in the mind of his young proti??gi?? during the changes of the renaissance. In the family business Leonardo learnt the traditions of glazing and furnaces from a young age, along with sculpture and mouldings.

Then in Florence Leonardo learned the value of a master’s skill accompanied by the talented artisans of the era There are examples of areas where Leonardo prevailed as a magnificent innovator, for e. g. the Sforza horse. Dedicated to the Sforza dynasty of Milan, aimed at his future patron Ludovico il Moro. The statue itself was a design innovation. Large statues had previously been constructed in segments, being welded, and then coated. Leonardo had planned to create a complete moulding on a grand scale.

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Large scale casting was to be filled with boiling metal from furnaces placed at differing heights as to avoid the moisture of the ground whence poured. There were various problems with the firing method to completing Leonardo’s design and these concepts were themselves entirely new innovations to have multiple furnaces. However Leonardo’s achievements impossible as they were can still be interpreted as marvellous innovations for the technological age. Another innovation within the Sforza horse project was the pose of the horse.

Leonardo wanted the horse to rear up on its back legs, yet this was not possible as the combined weight of the horse would have crushed the legs. Variations by Leonardo were attempted. However in this area he failed but not due to his ambition or innovation, moreover the insufficient metal capable of taking such a design. In the modern day whence thinking of artists Leonardo da Vinci is possibly one of the world’s greatest, and yet he only shared a small percentage of his time and efforts focused upon the subject. Innovations developed from many of Leonardo’s interests one of which was improvement to aerial perspective.

An insight to Leonardo’s treatise of painting he writes “colours become weaker in proportion to their distance from the person who is looking at them2” this was an innovation in art which was recognised by fellow artisans “it would please me if the painter were as learned as possible in all the liberal arts3”- (Alberti On Painting 1435) quoted by Serena Quatermaine whence stating such skill requiring “good judgement in composition, inventiveness, and an ability to move the soul” Quatermaine continues “these were such qualities of Leonardo4” Quatermaine is quoting Alberti with parity that Leonardo’s achievements in the Arts are both required and valued, above one has read the word inventiveness, which follows suit to innovation. Leonardo da Vinci was recognised as the greatest innovator who ever held a brush.

Although fellow artisans and historians mention crafts it is the individual who must innovate to use them, to be remembered. “Leonardo was startling for his time because as well as seeking truth in the bible or in classical writings, he sought it in the observations of nature, and accurate recording of what he saw5”-Museum of Science Boston.

This statement is apt as observations were a crucial element in Leonardo da Vinci’s career especially since 1503 when Leonardo conceived the possibility of manned flight. Such observation was imperative, when examining birds. Leonardo’s innovations to create a flying machine, a man with wings and a glider of course centuries ahead of their time had to use his traditional crafts of mathematics and physics to aid his imagination; he further combined his gatherings in his codex of flight. The argument here is that of course Leonardo favoured innovation over any traditional craft. One would suggest that if Leonardo were not educated at all he would still have been able to innovate regardless of any craft he utilised due to his imagination.

However since he was a gifted artisan he certainly made use of his abilities in his crafts when commencing with new endeavours. It was innovation which came first as stated, then followed his abilities of perfecting such designs. Leonardo was not deterred by great minds such as Galen or Aristotle, or forced by ecclesiastical doctrine in the catholic heart of Italy; instead he often challenged their theories. Which would later become a strong movement during the enlightenment called “dare to know” yet Leonardo began his struggles against the religious dogma centuries before, in a time when it was sacrilege, his scientific innovations ensued for the greater development of mankind, similar to Sir Isaac Newton.

Leonardo often made assumptions which were new and bold forming his own theories as to how the eye works and the speed of light, he disagreed with Aristotle and stated light could not be reflected from an object in order to see it, e. g. the sun is too far away thus would take far longer than any nearby object to receive. Therefore stating light did not travel at an infinite velocity. Hence innovations through scientific studies were also evident in Leonardo’s career when he discovered that light was travelling in particular patterns, and not consistently regular between objects. This was a large discovery for the artisan and a successful one to challenge the Aristotelian theme.

In answering the question one would suggest that findings from Leonardo’s innovations in sight were indeed favoured over traditional crafts. The year c1502 The Galata Bridge is the defining moment of Leonardo’s devotion to innovation, the bridge has various innovations including artistic, architectural and ambitious; this was a design wonder which went far beyond the traditional arts and crafts movement of the renaissance. Having never been conceived before this was the first of its size from the Bosporus to connect Constantinople. Had it been constructed it would still be one of the world’s longest bridges. Naturally condemned to be a disaster by contemporise the bridge was unfeasible to all those who simply could not conceptualize the idea.

Yet it has acted as an inspiration for later generations of architects. Analysts have since concluded that the design of the Galata Bridge has qualities which are found within “large lightweight structures6”. It would not have been until the Industrial revolution of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when technology, materials and engineers were able to fully understand Leonardo’s design needs. Leonardo certainly favoured his innovation it was traditions of the crafts and technology in the early Sixteenth Century which were restraining his great mind when he attempted this feat. “We cannot be certain how Leonardo created his bridge, only that he did produce a viable design7” -Mike Richards


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