It shows the engineer side of the legendary Renaissance genius, who was primarily known, post-Renaissance, as the painter of many beautiful works such as the Mona Lisa, among others.
Articles and writings about Leonardo Da Vinci show him to the modern world as the man who typifies the Renaissance man. A man with a deep curiosity about many different subjects.
The quintessential Renaissance scholar whose mind pondered every subject from painting to engineering and botany. And back again. The trouble with this presentation of Leonardo is the fact that he was far from typical.
While the variety of his intellectual pursuits puts him in the bracket of Renaissance Man, the truth is a little more complex. He was, in fact, a genius. Not only that. A genius born several centuries too early.
Leonardo wore many metaphorical hats. He was a painter. He was also a scientist. He was an engineer. He was a writer. Which Leonardo Da Vinci was the artist who produced this amazing sketch featuring hydraulic machines? It has to be the engineer Leonardo. This polymath was far from being a typical Renaissance man.
But if he was unfortunate to have been born ahead of his time, he was fortunate enough to be born in a time when intellect was expanding. His genius was able to find a home in Renaissance Europe, starting in Italy before moving to the rest of the continent.
To a viewer with a non-technical frame of mind, this picture seems to show several different drawings of machines. The drawings are cleverly executed and show the machines clearly. A viewer with an engineering background would probably understand these pictures much better than someone with a non-engineering background. The drawings clearly show some hydraulic machines.
Apart from showing us hydraulic machinery which hadn’t yet been invented, they also show us that Leonardo Da Vinci was very much ahead of his time. He had clear concepts in his brain of phenomena and inventions which were not yet understood or even thought of by the general public.
It might have been really frustrating for this highly intelligent man, who had concepts in his head which had yet to be accepted, let alone realised by society. Even if one cannot exactly appreciate the hydraulics angle, one can at least marvel at the breadth of Leonardo Da Vinci’s intellect. It’s worth exploring.
While it’s true that many of Leonardo Da Vinci drawings were too far too ahead to have made an impact on his generation, one of them was actually built in Norway, recently. The Vebjørn Sand Da Vinci Project was a project which was inspired completely by Leonardo Da Vinci's drawings.
It resulted in a timber bridge, rather smaller than the originally envisaged construction. To all intents and purposes, the Vebjørn Sand Da Vinci Project operates until the present day as a fully developed and functioning construction.
Whether or not we understand the principles of hydraulics or have any construction engineering background, this work of Leonardo Da Vinci gives us some valuable insight into the mind of a genius. A man who was several centuries ahead of his time.