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The Mona Lisa smile has managed to bewitch us for 500 years. It is the culmination of a lifetime spent studying art, science and optics.
Leonardo's notebook shows his dissecting the human face to understand how every muscle and nerve touched the lips. He dissected the human eye on cadavers to understand that the retina's centre sees detail, but the edges see shadows and shape better.
If you look directly at the Mona Lisa's smile, the corners of the lips turn downward slightly, but shadows and light make it seem like it's turning upwards.
Leonardo da Vinci was a genius in how he combined science and art to create his works.
His work includes iconic paintings of the Mona Lisa and The last supper, designs for flying machines and ground-breaking studies on optics and perspective.
Leonardo considered himself an engineer and architect, which he did with great passion. But his first job was as a theatrical producer.
Here, he learned how to do tricks with perspective. The stage in a theatre recedes faster and looks deeper than it is. Even a table onstage would be tilted slightly so you can see it. This is what we see in "The Last supper." Likewise. we can see the gestures of the characters exaggerated.
His theatrical production led him to mechanical props, like flying machines and a helicopter screw, designed to lower angels in some performances.
Leonardo was self-taught. He didn’t go to school because he was born out of wedlock.
That translates both into science and his art.
The Duke of Milan asked Leonardo to paint The Last Supper on the wall of a dining hall of a monastery.
Leonardo doesn’t just capture a moment but captures a dramatic narrative. At first, you see Christ's hand, then, as you move up, you stare at his face as he is saying, “One of you shall betray me.” Then as your eyes move across the picture, you see the questions rippling outward as each of the apostles reacts with, "Is it me, Lord?"
To be creative, you must be interested in many fields rather than be a specialist.
Leonardo da Vinci was interested in everything in the universe, including how we fit into it. He tried to answer questions such as, Why do people yawn? Why is the sky blue?
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