Exhibit offers fresh look at Leonardo da Vinci

Fri Feb 4, 2011 7:47pm EST
 
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By Jon Hurdle

PHILADELPHIA Feb 4 (Reuters Life) - If it's hard to grasp the genius of Leonardo da Vinci, it may be because he left no working models of the drawings that showed his intimate grasp of fields ranging from engineering to botany and anatomy.

But Philadelphia's Franklin Institute is hosting an exhibition that explains his paintings and the construction and operation of his famous inventions using newly created models as well as dazzling touch-screen technology.

"Leonardo da Vinci's Workshop," which runs from Saturday until May 22, examines his flying machines, weapons of war, robots and other mechanical devices by using computer graphics to create three-dimensional pictures of the items that in their original form are represented only by drawings in the artist notebooks.

"The genius of Leonardo da Vinci, the greatest mind of the Renaissance, springs to life in this much heralded exhibit from Italy," the institute said on its website.

It added that for the first time new discoveries about "The Last Supper," one of his most famous paintings, will be unveiled.

A digital restoration of the work highlights elements that had been obscured by five centuries of deterioration, including plates of fish and slices of orange on the table where Jesus and his disciples are sitting. It also reveals a bell tower rising in the distance behind the figure of Jesus.

The lack of halos on the figures of Jesus and the disciples suggests that da Vinci was not a religious man and may even have had an antagonistic relationship with the monks who commissioned the painting, according to Mario Taddei, a co-curator of the exhibition.

"These are common people," Taddei said, referring to the figures in the painting.   Continued...

 
<p>An electronic "book" at the Biblioteca Ambrosiana library shows the Atlantic Code drawn by Leonardo Da Vinci, in downtown Milan March 23, 2009. REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo</p>