Leonardo da Vinci: From his painter's brush to the anatomical forceps

Leonardo da Vinci was the real "Man of Renaissance". His accomplishments as an artist, inventor and scientist establish him as the embodiment of the Renaissance intellectual ideals and values. Indeed, his artistic and scientific work covered all the fields of the art and sciences. Painter, sculpture, architect, engineer, musician, astrologist, botanologist, palaeontologist, geographer, mathematician, biotechnologist, psychologist, philosopher, anatomist, inventor of any type of artillery and war machine, ingenious in sciences, he was a real prophet capable of foreseeing the scientific progress and evolution for at least five hundred years in advance of his era.

Leonardo's anatomical studies, performed on nineteen corpses, cover a long period of his lifetime in which he attempted to distill and integrate all the physical, philosophical and metaphysical concepts on the psychosomatic entity of the human being. According to Leonardo the human body is the cosmography of the microcosm in correlation to Ptolemy's cosmography of the macrocosm. Thanks to his method of three dimensional seeing, he demonstrated the human body as a whole and then he analyzed its parts in a frontal, profile and back view, elevating the art of anatomical drawing to a high scientific level and providing the basic principles for the modern morphological illustrations.

Through his anatomical studies of the brain Leonardo has attempted to discover the proper place of the soul. For this reason in his drawings he demonstrated the structure of the eyes, which are the windows of the soul and he dissected the optic tract in order to demonstrate the anatomical background of the perception of the physical world and the way of the communication of the soul with the active life. Leonardo dissected the ventricles of the brain hoping to approach the seat of the soul and to perceive the mystery of its interaction with the body. Leonardo has tried in all his paintings, drawings and portraits to depict in the human faces the inner workings of the mind and soul, the hope, the peace, the tranquillity, the piety, the repentance, the fear, the anger, the aggressiveness, the despair, the depression and the whole range of the human emotions. Leonardo via his anatomical studies and drawings as well as his paintings endeavored to explore and externalize the enormity of the inner world of the human being.