Leonardo da Vinci He was a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, engineer, mathematician, inventor, anatomist, cartographer, geologist, botanist and writer. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all times and perhaps the most diversely talented person to have ever lived. In Leonardo’s manuscripts specular writing was used, which consists of writing in the opposite direction, from right to left, so that it is only recognizable if it is reflexed on a mirror (writing in left-handed mirror script)
Leonardo’s life Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was born on the 15th of April 1452, in Vinci (Toscana, Italy). He died on the 2nd of May 1519, in France, when he was 67 years old. He studied with the famous painter Andrea de Verrocchio, and then he worked with Ludovico Sforza. He worked around different Italian cities and he spent his last years in France, invited by Francisco I.
Contributions Art: Quattrocento: tridimensional representation system. Sfumato: technique consisting of the difumination of the outlines. Really famous pictures as The Last Supper, The Gioconda or The Vitruvio Man. Science: studies about the flight of the birds, the movement of water or turbulences.
Medicine: studies about human anatomy (bones, muscles, the heart…) and about animal anatomy (cows, birds, monkeys, bears, frogs and horses) Engineering: flying machine, parachute, future helicopter…
Anatomy before Leonardo´s studiesLittle was known aboutanatomy until Leonardo,because in that timedissections of humanbodies were not allowedso nobody knew anythingabout anatomy. TheInquisition persecutedwhoever tried to researchabout human or animalanatomy.
Leonardo’s knowledge about anatomy His anatomical training started when he was working with Andrea del Verrochio, studying the external parts of the human body. Later, with the approval of several Italian hospitals, he practised the dissection of corpses. Working conditions were very bad because of hygiene and the conservation of the bodies. In 1510, together with the doctor Marcantonio della Torre, they collected several studies about anatomy with more than two hundred drawings made by Leonardo.
Expansion and understanding of his studiesThe studies about humananatomy were a great step forknowledge and thanks to themmany things have beendiscovered about our body,that without Leonardo wouldn’thave been possible. Forexample, he discovered howblood passes constantlythrough all the human body,carrying nutrients to every partand collecting waste products.He also made incrediblestudies about the muscles andvalves of the heart.
MethodsFirst, he madedissections of the corpsesof criminals verydiscreetly, avoiding theaction of the Inquisition.Later, when he began tobe famous, somehospitals offered himhuman bodies for hisresearch. After thedissections, he fixed hisconclusions in amazingdrawings, that were kepttogether in a notebook.
DrawingsThe drawings were discovered recently because Leonardogave his notebooks to his student Melzi. When he died, his sonsold them to an Italian painter, who saved them all together.The pictures appeared about 1900.
COMPARISON BETWEENNOWADAYS KNOWLEDGE AND LEONARDO’S DRAWINGS
Leonardo’s heart The previous drawing shows different perspertives of the heart. In relation to this organ, Leonardo studied its parts with great accuracy. Moreover, he knew about the valves and blood vessels of the heart. The blood vessels are perfectly drawn, even coronary ones (coronary vessels supply blood to the heart muscle). He was capable of studying the structure of the different valves (atrioventricular and sigmoid valves).
Leonardo’sheartA great drawing ofthe trachea and heartcan be observed(c.1511), as well asthe bronchi andbronchioles. Hewrote about theaction of the heartand the effects ofrespiration in thetrachea around thedrawing. Drawing of a bovine heart, great vessels & bronchial tree: A bovine heart was used for most of his dissections.
Leonardo’sheartThis sketch shows thefour cavities of theheart: two atria and twoventricles. He knewperfectly its structure,even the way valveswork during the cardiaccycle.
Knowledge of thebronchi and bronchiolesnowadaysReferring to the bronchi andbronchioles, Leonardorepresented them almostperfectly, but nowadays weknow more in detail theirfunction. The final branchesof the bronchioles lead to aseries of riny sacs, thepulmonary alveoli, where gasexchange takes place.
Other important anatomy discoveries He made very accurate drawings of bones and muscles (for instance, the structure of the hand). Those drawings show perfectly the structure of tendons, bones and muscles. He studied the movement of the diaphragm in the respiration and defecation. One of his most ingenious achievements in anatomy, were wax moulds of the brain ventricles.
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