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 Leonardo da Vinci

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The Great LEO

The Great LEO

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Leonardo da Vinci Empty
PostSubject: Leonardo da Vinci   Leonardo da Vinci EmptySat Mar 12, 2011 7:44 am

[font=&quot]Leonardo da Vinci is one of
the greatest artists who has ever lived. He is also among the greatest
scientists. He experimented with unusual ways to mix paint and use colours. He
created new painting techniques and original ways to compose pictures. He
studied everything he saw—from living things to machines, using his incredible
drawing skills to record them in detail. Then he used his observations to think
up plans for inventions that were not built until hundreds of years later, such
as a telescope, a tank and a helicopter![/font]


[b][color=#FFC000][font=&quot]LEONARDO’S CHILDHOOD[/font][/color][/b]


[font=&quot]Leonardo was born on April
15, 1452, in the small town of Vinci, near Florence, in Italy. (His name means
in Italian, “Leonardo of Vinci”.) His father was a wealthy Florentine official
who did not marry his mother, a simple peasant woman.[/font]


[font=&quot]Leonardo was brought up by his
mother’s family in the beautiful Tuscan countryside. As a small boy, he spent
hours exploring the woods, fields and streams. He loved to watch insects,
animals and birds, and to examine different plants and flowers, then make
sketches of them. His restless curiosity, interest in nature and keen eye for
observation shaped the whole course of his life.[/font]


[b][color=#FFC000][font=&quot]LEONARDO BECOMES A CRAFTSMAN[/font][/color][/b]


[font=&quot]At the age of about 12,
Leonardo went to live with his father in Florence. The great city was then a
bustling centre for training master artists and for brilliant students of
literature and science. Leonardo was sent to school to learn reading, writing
and maths, and he became a fine musician. However, he showed such a talent for
drawing that he was taken on as an apprentice by one of the leading artists in
the city, Andrea del Verrocchio.[/font]


[font=&quot]In Verrocchio’s workshop, Leonardo
began to learn how to mix different types of paint, make brushes and prepare
canvases for painting. He studied the art of fresco (painting using
watercolours on wet plaster)and learnt how to sculpt. Artists in those
days knew many other skills. Wealthy people paid Verrocchio to create bronze
church bells, musical instruments and furniture, to make compasses for ships
and to cast objects in gold and silver.[/font]


[font=&quot]Leonardo studied all the crafts
in the workshop, and became fascinated by the variety of tools and machines
used there. He examined how each of the pieces of technical equipment worked
and made careful drawings of them. Leonardo carried a sketchpad with him at all
times, so he could make accurate drawings of anything around Florence that
interested him. He began to think about how everyday machines worked, such as
the waterwheels that turned millstones to grind corn. And he studied the
specialist machines being used on an enormous construction site where the city
cathedral was being built.[/font]


[b][color=#FFC000][font=&quot]AN ARTIST IN FLORENCE[/font][/color][/b]


[font=&quot]By 1472, Leonardo had finished
his apprenticeship with Verrocchio. However, he stayed working in the great
craftsman’s workshop as his assistant. Verrocchio thought the 21-year-old was
so skilled that he allowed Leonardo to help with a masterpiece he was working
on called [i]The Baptism of Christ[/i]. Leonardo painted an angel kneeling in
the left of the picture, and some of the background. He used delicate colours
to show feelings on the angel’s face, and tried a new idea for painting
haziness in the landscape to try to show distance. In those days, artists could
only paint flat pictures; they did not know how to show perspective.[/font]


[font=&quot]By 1478, Leonardo had set up a
workshop of his own. Two of his first paintings were gentle, touching portraits
of Mary with baby Jesus, called Madonnas. Between 1480 and 1481 he also created
a lovely, small painting called the [i]Annunciation[/i], showing the Bible
story of how Mary was once visited by an angel. Leonardo brilliantly captured
the meeting of the human and the spiritual worlds by setting the figures in a
deep, misty, magical landscape, with exquisitely detailed, lifelike wildflowers
and plants around the angel’s feet.[/font]


[font=&quot]Many wealthy people in Florence
began to ask Leonardo to create works of art for them—in particular the ruler
of the city himself, the great Lorenzo de’ Medici. Strangely, Leonardo never
carried out work on one big order, which was for a painting in the chapel of a
palace, the Palazzo Vecchio. He also left several other works unfinished. One
of these was a portrait of St Jerome. Another was an order from a monastery for
his first large-scale painting, [i]The Adoration of the Magi[/i], showing the
visit of the Three Wise Men to baby Jesus. Perhaps Leonardo did not finish the
paintings because he was engrossed with other work he was doing in private.
Leonardo was not only still studying and sketching machines, such as pumps and
army equipment. He was also planning new machines of his own.[/font]


[b][color=#FFC000][font=&quot]WORK AT THE COURT OF MILAN[/font][/color][/b]


[font=&quot]In 1482, Lorenzo de’ Medici
sent Leonardo on an important mission. He asked him to take a silver musical
instrument called a lute as a peace offering to the warlike ruler of Milan,
Duke Lodovico Sforza. Leonardo wrote a daring personal letter to deliver to the
duke at the same time. In it, he described the amazing ideas he had for
incredible new machines, which would be perfect for the Duke’s army. These
included armoured vehicles, moveable bridges and original designs for
catapults, cannons and other weapons. At the end of the letter, Leonardo added
that he also happened to be a skilled painter, sculptor and musician. He
offered to create a bronze horse statue to honour the Duke’s father.[/font]


[font=&quot]The Duke was highly impressed
and invited Leonardo to work for him as an engineerand painter.
Leonardo set up a studio with pupils and assistants helping him on many
different projects. From 1483 to 1485 he worked on two versions of a wonderful
picture called [i]The Virgin of the Rocks[/i]. Then he was asked to paint a
massive fresco on the wall of a dining room in a monastery. For the next two
years, Leonardo created a masterpiece called [i]The Last Supper[/i], which
showed the final meal Jesus Christ shared with his close followers.[/font]


[font=&quot]However, much of Leonardo’s time
was taken up with scientific studies. He was employed on the duke’s many war
campaigns, advising on new ideas for weapons and building defences. He also
produced models for the building of a magnificent dome for Milan cathedral,
drew up plans for other great buildings, and designed theatre sets and
costumes. He studied how humans and animals moved, explored possibilities for
inventing flying machines, and thought deeply about the moon, stars and
planets. He also became firm friends with a mathematician called Luca Pacioli,
who was working on the relationship between distances. Leonardo made a series
of drawings to illustrate Pacioli’s ideas, and studied how he could use
mathematical rules to create paintings that looked solid, deep and lifelike.[/font]


[b][color=#FFC000][font=&quot]FOUR YEARS IN FLORENCE[/font][/color][/b]


[font=&quot]Leonardo stayed in Milan for 18
years. Then at the end of 1499, French soldiers attacked the city and conquered
it. The 48-year-old artist returned to Florence once more. Not long afterwards
Florence was caught up in its own war against the city of Pisa. In 1502, Duke
Cesare Borgia asked Leonardo to become his chief architect and engineer. He
worked hard, designing and building forts. He also drew up plans to cut off
Pisa’s water supply and force the city to surrender. His brilliant ideas
involved changing the direction of a river and also building canals, but these
were not carried out.[/font]


[font=&quot]Leonardo saw horrors during the
war, which inspired him to plan an enormous painting called the [i]Battle of
Anghiari[/i] for the great hall of the Palazzo Vecchio. However, he only got as
far as making detailed sketches and a full-size drawing. Instead, Leonardo
turned to studying the flight of birds and experimenting further with his
designs for flying machines. He also painted several famous portraits. The only
one that still survives is a captivating picture of a woman with a mysterious
smile, called the [i]Mona Lisa[/i]. It is probably the most famous painting in
all the world today.[/font]


[b][color=#FFC000][font=&quot]LEONARDO’S LATER YEARS[/font][/color][/b]


[font=&quot]In 1506, Leonardo returned to
Milan, at the request of the French governor there. The King of France himself,
Louis XII, was living in Milan at the time, and just a year later he appointed
Leonardo to be his court painter. However, Leonardo continued to devote lots of
time to engineering projects and scientific investigations, such as examining
fossils to work out what they were.[/font]


[font=&quot]After the governor of Milan
died, Leonardo went to Rome in 1514 to work for the brother of the pope. Although
he completed one magnificent painting, a portrait of St John the Baptist, he
spent most of his time studying and experimenting. By examining animal parts
from a butcher’s shop, he produced brilliant models of how the heart works. He
tried making giant, rounded mirrors because he wanted to see the moon and stars
close-up. And by studying he plants he discovered that the same patterns exist
in many natural things.[/font]


[font=&quot]Shortly after the pope’s brother
died, in 1516, Leonardo went to live and work in France. He was 64 years old.
King Francis I gave Leonardo the title of “First painter, architect and
mechanic of the king”, and set him up in a house near his own palace in
Amboise. He paid Leonardo well and left him to do as he pleased, visiting him
now and again to enjoy fascinating conversations. Leonardo began the huge job
of sorting out all the scientific papers he had produced during his lifetime.
He died before he was able to finish, on May 2, 1519.[/font]


[b][font=&quot]Microsoft ® Encarta ® 2007. © 1993-2006 Microsoft Corporation. All
rights reserved.[/font][/b]
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