The Renaissance brought forth many exceptional artists such as Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni (1475 – 1564) and Leonardo da Vinci (1452 – 1519). Both were legends during their lifetimes. Michelangelo was a sculptor, painter, and architect, but da Vinci crossed the disciplines and drew sketches of musical instruments, hydraulic pumps, reversible crank mechanisms, and a steam cannon. The big question is: How did da Vinci become this disruptive thinker?
by Robert Gerlach, Creativity Researcher, Coach & Author
Breakthroughs in Creativity #2
Young Leonardo da Vinci had been exceptionally gifted by nature; his intelligence was way above average. His biographer Giorgio Vasari wrote, “And so great was his genius, and such its growth, that to whatever difficulties he turned his mind, he solved them with ease.” Artistically, Leonardo da Vinci had been educated in Florence, by the sculptor, painter, and goldsmith Verrocchio. But where did his knowledge for constructing bridges and inventing technical machines like tanks, submarines, and helicopters come from? As we know today, some of his flying objects actually worked. One bridge he designed was built in a smaller version in Norway in 2001. Leonardo da Vinci had not studied at a university, nor did he have any formal education in mathematics or Latin.
Today it is believed that Leonardo da Vinci’s approach to science was one of intense observation and meticulous recording. But can natural giftedness, intelligence, and investigative observations alone really explain how Leonardo knew how to construct a bridge? This required knowledge of structural engineering. Leonardo himself firmly believed “Practice must always be founded on sound theory.” He noted in his sketchbook: “Those who are in love with practice without knowledge are like the sailor who gets onto a ship without rudder or compass and who never can be certain where he is going.” How could Leonardo da Vinci successfully cross the disciplines while Michelangelo could not? Could there be a hidden secret behind the greatest inventor of the renaissance?
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