Why is Leonardo da Vinci so historically important?
Leonardo da Vinci is primarily famous as a Renaissance artist. He is especially remembered for two works of art: Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. However, he is also important as an overall genius, with interests that included anatomy, many other branches of science, architecture, and technology. He also liked to invent mechanical devices. Some people argue that he invented the airplane (or an early prototype of it) and an early version of the tank.
Leonardo da Vinciis also famous as perhaps the most important example of what is called a "Renaissance man." He lived in the 1400s and 1500s, the period known as the Renaissance. This was a time in which interest in classical learning from the Greeks and the Romans flourished. Also, an interest in rationality and the scientific method began to come to the forefront of human thought in this period. A "Renaissance man," however, is more than simply someone who lived in the Renaissance. Such a person has a wide range of interests and accomplishments across many different fields of study. Leonardo, an exemplary Renaissance man, did not allow himself to be boxed into one narrow field of study. We admire him for the range of his ideas and activities.
Leonardo da Vinci's (1452-1519) contributions to the modern understanding of medicine are evident in his drawings of the human body. Human dissection in Europe was considered taboo after the practice was banned by the Council of Tours in 1163. Due to the research of Leonardo da Vinci, a renewed interest in anatomy occurred in Italy. Da Vinci conducted 30 autopsies during his lifetime including a 100 year old man who had died moments before. Da Vinci’s most famous medical drawing is arguably the Vitruvian Man, which details the ideal human measurements in relation to a square and circle.
Among his collection of illustrations, da Vinci sketches a fetus within a mother’s womb, the anatomy of a human heart from several angles, and a multitude of drawings of the musculoskeletal system.
Leonardo da Vinci’s studies helped to further understand the human body, though he considered his research in anatomy informal and never published his drawings.