Leonardo da Vinci’s Machines in Motion

posted in: Italian History, Photography, Writing | 4

I had some free time today so I went to a da Vinci exhibit at a local museum while I had the opportunity. Leonardo da Vinci’s Machines in Motion has been at the Elliott Museum in Stuart, Florida all summer and leaves September 2 for Houston. So I didn’t even have to be in Italy for a little da Vinci culture today.

Although da Vinci is most famous for his sculptures and paintings, he was also an architect, engineer, mathematician, cartographer, anatomy expert, musician, and much more. His notebooks full of his drawings of designs and inventions are his legacy. Some say he had over 5,000 drawings.

Machines in Motion is a hands-on display of 40 full-size machine replicas which have been built by scientists and skilled craftsmen from Florence, Italy.

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They were created directly from da Vinci’s s designs and drawings; copies of some of these are also on display. Many of the machines are operational.

Included were an ornithopter, a water saw, and a machine to measure humidity using a scale with cotton balls.

DSCN2261 (600x800)He also designed an olive-oil machine, a rack-and-pinion, and a chain drive, like we use in bicycles today.

DSCN2253 (600x800)I especially liked the primitive odometer that looked like a wheelbarrow with a rotating wheel on top. A gear mechanism would drop a pebble into a container. The distance covered was derived by multiplying the number of pebbles by the circumference of the wheel.

DSCN2269 (800x600)DSCN2264 (800x598)Born in the town of Vinci in 1452, Leonardo moved to Florence at the age of 15 to work as an apprentice with the painter, Verrocchio. At the age of 25 Leonardo began his drawings of innovative machines in the notebooks and continued this practice for the rest of his life. In 1482 he moved to Milan, where he became the painter and engineer for Duke Sforza. In 1495 he started to paint the Last Supper on the dining hall wall in the convent at Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. When the Duke was overthrown in 1499, Leonardo returned to Florence. In 1503 he began to paint the Mona Lisa, and he moved to France in 1516, where he worked as a painter, engineer, and architect for the King. He died there three years later and was buried in the chapel at Chateau d’Amboise.

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4 Responses

  1. Susan Nelson

    Well done, Margie! Leonardo was fascinating. What kind of a mind could conjure up these things? And they aren’t crazy ideas but they make sense. And then there are his paintings………


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