May 25, 2019
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Leonardo da Vinci science and technology exhibit opens in Rome

Rome, Mar 12 (efe-epa).- Leonardo da Vinci pondered and designed huge construction machines, fantastic contraptions whereby Man could conceivably fly and an "ideal city" - technological and scientific works he created during the late 15th and early 16th centuries and all of which are part of an exhibition on display in Rome to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Renaissance genius's death.

"Leonardo da Vinci: The Science Before Science" will open to the public at Rome's Scuderie del Quirinale, part of the official State Palace where the Italian president resides and where the scientific and technological work of the Florentine artist, inventor and polymath is collected to show the dynamic artistic context that characterized the Renaissance.

The exhibit, which will run from Wednesday through June 30, contains more than 200 of Leonardo's works, including sketches and drawings, original devices, historical prototypes and manuscripts, as well as the only book containing his notes in his own handwriting.

Ten original drawings by the artist guide visitors along a route through 10 halls in which the great issues and technological problems that Leonardo confronted are explored, including the rediscovery of the classical world, the development of machines for big construction projects, the study of rivers, the science and art of warfare and assorted "flying machines."

In a chronological tour through the inventor's life, the exposition begins in Florence, where we first encounter him. From the city's cathedral, Leonardo could observe from close at hand the cranes designed four decades earlier by Brunelleschi to build the dome, which amazed him as evidenced by the extremely precise drawings of them that he made in later years.

The next stop in the exhibit is the classical world, the subject of a hall containing a scale model of the Pantheon to highlight the comparison between the proportions of Greek and Roman buildings and those created by Da Vinci and some of his contemporaries.

The exposition also includes his concept of the "ideal city," which - in contrast to the Milan of his lifetime - he conceived as having a system of intersecting two-level roads and watercourses outfitted with hydraulic technology that was an incredible and far-sighted mental achievement at the time.

Evident in the "city's" design are the principles of pragmatic efficiency and rationality in counterpoint to the metaphysical beauty of the idea of the city that prevailed in that period.

"The Science Before Science" exhibit includes many of the weird and wonderful machines that sprang from the Florentine engineer's imagination, especially in the textile and metallurgical sectors, all of which are elucidated in his drawings or in prototypes.

A key portion of Leonardo's personal library is also on display, namely the treatise of Francesco di Giorgio, the only volume positively known to have belonged to the inventor and which is made incredibly more valuable as a result of the notations within it in his own hand.

In other rooms are assorted machines of warfare designed by Leonardo, who lived in a very violent time of warring city-states, including a huge crossbow and a tank.

Renowned for being, perhaps, the first person ever to propose a practical method for flying, one of the most interesting sections of the exhibit is surely the hall containing his various prototypes of wings, a helicopter, a parachute and other contraptions that visitors can view.

Da Vinci translated the anatomy of birds into mechanical forms and conceived of a huge flying space vessel with curved wings and a glider with mobile wingtips.

The exhibit winds up with a look at the creation of the myth of Leonardo da Vinci, inviting visitors to reflect on the birth and development of the aura surrounding the inventor as a timeless genius and visionary many of whose concepts and designs have been implemented in the modern world.

The ongoing comparison of Leonardo with his contemporaries shows the depth and breadth of his extraordinary vision, along with the transcendent aspects of his work and legacy that - despite the centuries - still look to the future.

Da Vinci was born in the Republic of Florence in 1452 and died in France in 1519. He is particularly known for being the painter of the "Mona Lisa" and "The Last Supper."

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