However, his prowess as an inventor is just as impressive. Having envisioned such modern devices as the aeroplane and the helicopter, it appears as if his genius knew no bounds.
We also must remember that this artist also had a keen eye for warfare and he was commissioned to produce several unique concepts on a handful of occasions. One lesser-known example can be seen in a piece entitled Multi-Barrel Gun.
The Intention and Primary Principle
Gunpowder-loaded weapons had begun to revolutionise warfare during the life of Leonardo da Vinci.
Not only could armies attack and defend themselves from much longer ranges, but the entire concept of firearms ushered in what can only be called the concept of weapons of mass destruction.
These mechanical devices also began to eliminate the use of traditional weapons such as swords and bows and arrows. Being known for hid ability to think ahead, it appears as if da Vinci were looking for a way to make the firearms and canon of his time more efficient.
The Perceived Mechanism
We should point out that this device is often erroneously referred to as da Vinci's "machine gun". On the contrary, the weapon does not act as a machine gun as the concept is known today.
Its overriding principle is the ability for one barrel to be fired while another can be loaded in succession. This actually made a great deal of sense, as muzzle-loading weapons were notoriously slow to fire and this would often cause problems during a battle.
The ability to load and fire multiple barrels (12 in total) would vastly increase the power of an army. Had this device gone into production, it would likely have had a similar effect to when the Gatling gun was first introduced in 1862.
Trademark da Vinci Qualities
This work should be broken down into two parts. First, we need to take a look at the streamlined efficiency. This is a hallmark of all da Vinci inventions. The multi-barrelled gun was lightweight and easy to transport.
It could be manipulated by only a handful of soldiers and unlike the canon, the unit could be moved from place to place (displacement is a common military tactic in modern times).
However, it is the sheer accuracy and detail of this sketch which truly deserve attention. Leonardo da Vinci was always known for his ability to flesh out concepts so that they would become far more than scribblings on parchment.
The three-dimensional detail, the attention to light and shadow and the intricate lines observed in this work all illustrate this very same exacting nature.
More Than Pragmatic Killing Power
One would be mistaken to assume that this painting reflected the desire of da Vinci to create killing machines. On the contrary, it is merely a representation of a curious mind at work. We should also note that this piece was created in 1481.
He was only 29 years of age at the time. It can also be proposed that the work was a method for him to advance his drawing skills; particularly in relation to the amazingly detailed three-dimensional sketches that would be produced during his more mature years. Either way, the multi-barrelled gun is a sight to behold.