We will explore the career and works of Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) with a view to examining how he pursued art and science as ways to understand the world and the human place in it. We will follow his life story and the chronology of his paintings, drawings, models and unrealized projects as a framework by which to trace specific and unfolding themes. A major aim of this class will be to consider the question: can we separate art from science as a form of knowledge? Why was it possible for Leonardo to create the works that he did? What are the connections between art and science? We will think about the degree to which making art enabled Leonardo to understand natural phenomena such as the action of water and of birds in flight. Among other topics, we will look at his investigations of anatomy, his mechanical inventions and his theory of the arts.
In this class, you will be assessed on your understanding of themes raised in discussion, and on your thoughtfulness with respect to historically and culturally conditioned definitions of genius, nature, art and science, and into our own times. You will engage in team-oriented and individual research, focus on writing skills, skills of oral presentation and innovative, creative use of digital sources and other media. By the end of the course, my goal is that you will have attained not only a rich and detailed understanding of the place of art and science in a dynamic and influential period in European history but also that you will have produced your own creative responses to problems inspired by Leonardo. My aim is that you will be able to communicate and apply your knowledge as well as these skills to contemporary issues and into the future.
• Class participation
• Short papers on drawings handed in and presented in class
• A group project
• A final project
Leonardo da Vinci, “The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci”, ed. Irma A. Richter: ISBN-10: 978019929902
“Leonardo da Vinci (revised edition)” ISBN-10: 0140169822
Readings on reserve
We will be making a visit (optional) to The National Gallery of Art, Washington, to examine paintings, furnishings, and other objects that comprise the Renaissance interior