I had the opportunity this week to visit an exhibit on Leonardo da Vinci. There was a wide array of his work (paintings, drawings, writings and inventions across many subject areas) to see. I found the extent and diversity of his work fascinating. Without doubt, he was a true Renaissance man.
As I took in, and marveled at, da Vinci’s work, alongside and surrounded by many others who were also interested in the items on display, I could not help but feel amazed. Here was a person who lived so long ago, but whose work still has an impact and is undoubtedly the foundation for many works that came after. It seems clear that Leonardo da Vinci was Divinely inspired and that he developed and tried to use his God given talents to the fullest. I cannot imagine this being possible without him taking the time to discover whom he truly was. It also seems likely that with each work, whether it was an invention, writing, painting or drawing, da Vinci probably became more and more genuine, gaining an even greater sense of himself and in relation to his surroundings; making him a Renaissance man in every sense of the word “renaissance.”
Continuing to reflect on the exhibit and the man, Leonardo da Vinci, I think about how he not only had talent, but he also must have had a great deal of patience. As revealed in one of the displays, when da Vinci was painting The Last Supper, there were days when he would just stare at and ponder the painting, trying to discern the next step. Also brought to light was the fact that the painting, which was done on dry plaster (a new technique created by da Vinci) began flaking and cracking even before it was finished. Still though, it ended up being one of the most well-known works of art and throughout time it has not only survived but has also been much celebrated as a masterpiece.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of da Vinci’s work is the spirit in which it was done. In it, one can see not only his brilliance, but also re-birth and reawakening over the span of his life. Leonardo da Vinci was both productive and contemplative. Again, he used his God given gifts and talents to bring the thoughts, feelings and ideas that sprung to life from within him out into the open, to be shared for benefit beyond him. Whether or not they were deemed a success or a failure at the time really does not matter, what matters is that they are a testament to time well spent.
As the month of December comes to an end and a new year begins, remember, “Time stays long enough for anyone who will use it” (Leonardo da Vinci).
The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci