Leonardo da Vinci: The Man Who Invented the Future

Bulent Atalay, University of Virginia

What creates and drives genius? Why are some geniuses universal in their ability and others focused on a single discipline or interest? This class will investigate perhaps the most remarkable universal genius produced by the Italian Renaissance – or any other historical period. Leonardo Da Vinci was a painter, sculptor, military and civil engineer, experimental scientist and courtier. His work remains among the most celebrated in the history of art, as his Mona Lisa is the single most famous painting in the world; and his speculation on human flight, military machines and huge public works, such as diverting rivers, operate on a scale previously unimaginable.

We will follow this remarkable man from his birth, the illegitimate son of a minor notary in a provincial town, to his death in France where he had been given a castle by his last great patron, King Francis I. At the end of this presentation, you will have learned how one man succeeded in bringing together all of the perspectives and ambitions of the Renaissance as well as establishing the platform that would create the modern world: experimentation and the precise observation of the natural world and the human condition.