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Leonardo da Vinci Inventions

Saptakee Sengupta Mar 2, 2020
This story shall provide you an insight to the inventions of Leonardo da Vinci. Not only in the field of art but also in science, he demonstrated everything through his artistic caliber and observation power. Read ahead to know the great works and contribution of da Vinci.
Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian polymath, born on 15th April, 1452. His creative genius primarily reflected through his paintings and sculptures. His famous paintings are 'Mona Lisa' and 'The Last Supper'.
He was epitomized as the 'Renaissance Man', for being a visionary in multiple fields of science, engineering and technology. His biography says that his curiosity for scientific observations was inspired by his uncle Francesco.
He also drew accurate sketches of human anatomies, where symmetric divisions of organs were depicted in proportion. His famous drawing 'Vitruvian Man' was an example of art and science merged with each other. Mentioned below are the famous inventions of Leonardo da Vinci.

Leonardo da Vinci Inventions: The Complete List

Studying art and science together was considered to be mutually exclusive during the Renaissance period and da Vinci's inventions gained complete recognition only in the last 150 years. Since he was an engineer, he conceptualized ideas of different machines that would work in a much sophisticated way. 
Since science was at its stage of infancy, some of his ideologies were not accepted. His designed a movable dike to protect Venice from invasion which was rejected on grounds of being too expensive and impractical.
He utilized his logical skills in a wide range of subjects like, aeronautics, anatomy, botany, geology, civil engineering, chemistry, biology, cartography, geometry, hydrodynamics, mathematics, mechanical engineering, optics, zoology, physics and pyrotechnics.
His scientific studies were largely ignored by scholars since he did not attend any university for formal education. His approach towards science was based on detailed observations and records of the data observed. He did not imply any device to give a form to his scientific thoughts. He maintained journals of his investigative processes.
All his theories and interpretations were explained through his works of art. Inventions of Leonardo da Vinci were mostly pictorials, containing solid derivations and explanations. His mechanical principles were based on utilization of cantilevers, leverage, pulleys, gears and cranks. We have presented them in the following tables.

Artillery Park

Cannon Gun

Aerial Screw

Giant Crossbow

Lens Grinder

Hydraulic Machine

Flying Machine

Organ Gun

Parabolic Compass

Transportation Tank

Some other famous works and designs are listed below.
  • Robotic Knight
  • Scaling Ladder
  • Armored Car
  • Machine for Storming Wall
  • Eight Barreled Machine Gun
  • Three-tier Machine Gun
  • Automatic Igniting Device for Firearms
  • Parachute Drawing
  • Automobile car (powered by spring)
  • Crane Clocks
  • Horseless Carriage
  • Stretching Device for Barrel Spring
Despite being unschooled in mathematics and biology, he demonstrated the human anatomy with accurate graphical presentation. He collaborated his studies with Dr. Marcantonio della Torre from the year 1510 to 1511. Initially, he was permitted to dissect human corpses at Santa Maria Nuova, Florence. 
From his experience, Vinci said, "I have removed the skin from a man who was so shrunk by illness that the muscles were worn down and remained in a state like thin membrane, in such a way that the sinews instead of merging in muscles ended in wide membrane; and where the bones were covered by the skin they had very little over their natural size."
Some of his famous works of human anatomy contained in his book, 'Treatise of Painting' are shown in the tables.

Movement of Arm

2 Anatomical Studies

Head Proportions

Fetus Growth Stages

Vitruvian Man

Water Studies

Organs of Women

Skull Dissection

He also compared the anatomy of the leg of a dog to that of human beings. In the field of botany, Leonardo da Vinci studied many plants and crops, and sketched the floral parts accurately. Through his observation he discovered that, "all the branches of a tree at every stage of its height when put together are equal in thickness to the trunk [below them].
The grass dotted with blossoming plants is meticulously represented in both versions of his painting, The Virgin of Rocks. He has explained the geographical topology of Arno Valley, where he spent in early childhood, through the medium of drawing.
The topographical map of regions of Milan and Florence explained the phenomenon of nature, atmospheric effects and the causes of natural calamities like intense rain storm and flood. Leonardo's accurate map of Imola for Cesare Borgia (1502), was highly appreciated by Cesare Borgia who hired him as an architect and military engineer.
Leonardo da Vinci also made observations in the field of hydroponics. He studied the motion and flow of water and its striking effects on surfaces. He also investigated on spiraling of water and its behavior through his drawings.
While observing astronomy, he put forth his view, that "the earth is not in the center of the Sun's orbit nor at the center of the universe, but it is in the center of its companion elements and is united with them...
...And anyone standing on the moon, when it and the sun are both beneath us, would see this our earth. And the element of water upon it just as we see the moon, and the earth would light it as it lights us."
He was a genius in mathematics and studied linear perspectives. He was able to explain geometrical shapes and figures. His work was renowned for artistic proportion and was published in his book, De divina proportione, containing series of drawings of regular solids.

Timeline of Leonardo da Vinci's Works

I'm sure you are fascinated to the helm after knowing the facts about Leonardo da Vinci. Since he was a pioneer in painting and sculpting, you would find his timeline quite interesting. Let's have a look.
  • 1473: Landscape painting of 'Feast of Santa Maria delle Neve'
  • 1477: Painted the 'Annunciation to the Virgin'
  • 1478: Begins his work on 'Two Virgin Marys' and 'Ginevra de Benci'
  • 1481: Sketched the draft of 'The Adoration of the Magi' (unfinished) 1482. His detailed sketch of human body gets published
  • 1483: He paints 'Madonna' and begins his work on 'Great Nronze Horse' a sculpture for Sforza
  • 1485: He paints the 'Lady with an Ermine'
  • 1495: He begins 'The Last Supper' painting on the fresco at Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan
  • 1499: Begins to paint the ceiling of Sala delle Asse
  • 1500: He paints 'Madonna and Child'
  • 1503: He begins to paint the 'Battle of Anghiari'
  • 1505: Completes 'Mona Lisa' and abandons 'Battle of Anghiari'
  • 1507: Starts the second version of 'Madonna of the Rocks'
  • 1515: Creates mechanical lion for King Francis I coronation and paints 'St John the Baptist'
Leonardo da Vinci gifted the world with beautiful paintings, sculptures and skillful ideologies. He will be revered and remembered forever for his contributions. I hope the information provided in this article has satisfied your endeavor to know about his works and inventions.