Color Style Kyle

Combining art, creativity, design, family, health, humor and books.

Leonardo da Vinci Drawings at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco with Kids

Posted by Kyle Design on January 3, 2009

Artists throughout time have produced works that feature the human face, such as Kyle's "Faces in Profile" stain glass night light.

Artists throughout time have produced works that feature the human face, such as Kyle's "Faces in Profile" stain glass night light.

My husband and I took our kids (11 and 9) to see the San Francisco exhibit Leonardo da Vinci: Drawings from the Biblioteca Reale in Turin (Italy) at the Legion of Honor. It was a real treat to be able to see the drawing (under glass) very close up. The museum even supplies magnifying glasses for use for those who’d like the extra help with really seeing all the details. Many of the drawings were done in metalpoint, a technique that uses a metal stylus to sketch on specially prepared paper and which results in particularly fine details.

Unique Business Card Holders for professional artists, painters and designers. Perfect for geniuses, too!

Unique Business Card Holders for professional artists, painters and designers. Perfect for geniuses, too!

Leonardo da Vinci had four main areas of interest that he explored throughout his life: the human face (and how it ages), the human body, horses and flight. These themes appear again and again as he studied these subjects. In any one codex (hand-written manuscript) of his, the pages often contained  both images and text, sometimes right on top of one another or completely surrounded within the body of text.

He truly understood the musculature and how little changes or movements affected the results. You can see this extensive knowledge coming through in his work. I was struck by just how well he portrayed the power of the figures and horses, by really seeing the fine detailing of shadow and line. The pieces are powerful.

Wild Mustang Christmas Ornament is the perfect gift for horse lovers. May be engraved, too.

Wild Mustang Christmas Ornament is the perfect gift for horse lovers. May be engraved, too.

When leaving the exhibit and seeing other works by other artists from about the same time period (Francesco Pesellino, d. 1457, for example), it is stunning just how exceptional da Vinci’s work is. A point that I easily made to my children by comparing the works on the spot, who then really got it, because they could immediately make the comparison and appreciate the work of this true master.

Da Vinci (1452-1519) was a contemporary of Michael Angelo (1475 – 1564), and apparently felt somewhat threatened by the fame and attention the younger artist was receiving. Da Vinci apparently didn’t finish much of his work – too many ideas, too little time perhaps, or it is likely he was just seeking knowledge for its own sake – which affected his career at the time. But if this competitiveness helped spur him on, then lucky for us – his works are a gift to mankind.

Sea Turtles are a popular image for both children and adults - depicted here on a silver vitamin box.

Sea Turtles are a popular image for both children and adults - depicted here on a silver vitamin box.

On an amusing note, one of the informational signs at the show provided background on the Biblioteca Reale (Royal Library), mentioning that it holds works by Rafael, Leonardo da Vinci and others. So what does a nine-year-old tune into? The fact that Rafael and Leonardo are both names of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I’ll take it.

The show ends tomorrow, so hurry! November 15, 2008 — January 4, 2009 at the Legion of Honor.

Click on any of the photos above to see more of my Artist Gifts, Faces Gifts, Horses Gifts or Turtles Gifts or visit Kyle Design for more unique business card holders, night lights, holiday ornaments or vitamins cases.

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