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Week 1

Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo – The Geniuses Who Hated Each Other

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 They are among the best artists ever born. Both Italians, they were rivals and disliked each other. At the time when Michelangelo was born, Leonardo was already becoming a famous painter. It is thought that the younger genius copied his older opponent, owing to the fact that some of Michelangelo’s paintings are similar to sketches found in Leonardo’s notes. Nevertheless, their lives are somewhat similar and they were both trying to win the title of the best artist in Italy.

Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo belong to the period of the High Renaissance. They both spent almost all their lives living with their fathers in religious families. Leonardo learned how to paint from his father himself. On the other hand, Michelangelo didn’t have such support and had to leave his father’s house in order to become a painter. Once he became an artist he decided to devote his talent to sculpting and less painting, which made him Leonardo’s biggest rival. Besides art, they both had worked on other things. While Leonardo was a scientist, Michelangelo was an architect and wrote poetry. Another interest that connects them is anatomy. Michelangelo was a sculptor, hence he had to know everything about anatomical structures of human and animals. In the later years of his life, Leonardo had a passion and desire to know every piece of a human’s body, so he dissected human corpses and left us with over 200 pages of advanced drawings of the human’s body.

Both Leonardo and Michelangelo are best known for their paintings and sculptures. Almost all their work abounds in religious characters and scenes. However, Leonardo’s paintings are full of scenes related to the birth of Jesus Christ, while Michelangelo was reviving scenes from the Bible. Michelangelo’s greatest masterpiece is the sculpture of David, the character from the Bible. Leonardo’s affection to Jesus can be seen from quite a few paintings and murals that he had painted, like “The Last Supper” and “Virgin on the Rocks”. However, neither one of these artists enjoyed painting nature alone. Their works of art are mostly portraits or scenes with characters. Even so, they used different styles of painting. Leonardo used a style called chiaroscuro, which is also called 3D painting and a specific technique, “sfumato”, which gives the paintings a shadowy quality. His portraits look vivid and the picture looks different from every side. He used this technique in creating his most famous painting – “Mona Lisa”. Unlike him, Michelangelo was fond of fresco painting, which means painting on wet plaster.

These two artists are considered to be the greatest religious painters. Nevertheless, they weren’t fully inspired by religion. Actually, most of their inspiration comes from their families. As seen, Leonardo’s paintings are full of feminine characters. Even though he lived with his father, he loved his mother more and never lost the memory of her. When at the beginning of the 16 century he was given an assignment to paint Mona Lisa, he accepted and always carried the painting with him because the girl in the picture reminded him of his mother. On the contrary, Michelangelo, who was inspired by his strict father, whom he loved even though he expelled him from home, wanted to paint strong men. Except people, Leonardo and Michelangelo inserted other scenes in their paintings. Da Vinci was in love with nature, thus his paintings are full of light and vitality. Michelangelo, on the other hand, adds strength and battle elements in his works. He praised chivalry and war. He has made a sculpture of horse where the animal looks furious and ready for battle, whereas Leonardo’s sculpture of a horse looks friendly and calm.

Leonardo and Michelangelo left us artworks, some of which were destroyed or lost and other unfinished, but all equally beautiful and ahead of their time. These great men were not just artists, but innovators as well. Leonardo Da Vinci came up with the idea of building a helicopter and Michelangelo designed buildings while writing poems for his beloved. Even though they disliked each other, they were very much alike. They both were unpopular among the people until their last years of life because their behavior was considered to be strange. However, they have been praised ever since and their work is still admired.

Unfortunately, I can’t include the proper references for this essay because I wrote it long time ago and I didn’t write down the sources. 

Photo source – Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.

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