The Ultimate Renaissance Man

Museum, the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace and the Louvre are among those showcasing his excep-tional art, mathematics and engineering through h...

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Leonardo da Vinci:

The Ultimate Renaissance Man Lecture series to mark the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death Few artists have left so much to posterity as Leonardo da Vinci. 2019 marks the 500th anniversary of the artist’s death near the royal château of Amboise, and museums around the world are gearing up for blockbuster exhibitions to celebrate Leonardo’s vast contributions. The Uffizi and the Museo Galileo in Florence, Haarlem’s Teylers Museum, the Queen’s Gallery at Buckingham Palace and the Louvre are among those showcasing his exceptional art, mathematics and engineering through his manuscripts and paintings, innovations and experimentation. This new short course explores the long and varied career of this iconic “Renaissance man”. We begin with the context of Leonardo’s artistic training in Florence, carefully examining his earliest paintings and the reasons behind his move to Milan. We continue following his life and career as a court artist and engineer for the Sforza family: the pageants and processions Leonardo orchestrated, the technically brilliant equestrian monument that he engineered, and the duke’s beautiful mistress who he immortalised. With the outbreak of the Italian Wars, we follow Leonardo to Rome and then France, where he pursued his scientific and military inventions and embarked on a late career in the service of King Francis I. Finally, we consider the fortunes of Leonardo after his death, from the 19th-century creation of his legend to today’s fevered hunt for the next autograph painting.

Session 1 (5 February)

a) Leonardo’s context: Artists, artisans, science and medicine in 15th-century Florence b) Baptisms, annunciations and the Magi: Leonardo’s early experiments with composition and technique

Session 2 (12 February)



“In painting, I can do everything possible”: Leonardo’s artistic reputation, Sforza portraits in Milan, The Last Supper Bronze horses, anatomy, science and the engineering of a masterpiece

Session 3 (19 February)

a) From the scholar to the helicopter: Leonardo and diplomacy in the wars between France, Spain and Rome b) The aging artist and his notebooks, and his key debate on the status of painting

Session 4 (26 February) a) b)

Leonardo’s 16th-century reputation: superlative artist, lacking in focus? Modern notions of artistic genius, and the search for the next Leonardo



10.30 – 12.30 pm 5 – 26 February 2019 (8 hours)

Course fee:

$140* * No discounts apply

Information and booking: or (02) 9261 1780

Tutor: Dr Kathleen Olive Dr Kathleen Olive is a literary and cultural historian, with a PhD in Florentine Renaissance studies from the University of Sydney. She has taught Italian language, literature and history at the University of Sydney and the University of Technology, and leads popular Italian art courses at the WEA. Kathleen, travels frequently to Italy, both to pursue her research and to lead cultural tours for Academy Travel.