National Geographic : 2019 May
youth: olive groves, dusky hills, and a mountain range off Italy’s west coast. In Vinci, this vista is known as orizzonti geniali, or “genius horizons,” says Stefania Marvogli of the Museo Leonardiano—an allusion to Leo- nardo and the geography that saturated his childhood. A patchwork of divergent terrains coming together to form a coherent whole, it reflects the connections Leonardo sought in nature: patterns that unify the cosmos. Little is known about Leonardo’s childhood. Records suggest that he lived with his grandparents in Vinci, where he received a rudimentary education. Sometime during Leonardo’s adolescence, his father likely rec- ognized his artistic abilities and showed his drawings to a client, the artist Andrea del Verrocchio, who agreed to take Leonardo on as an apprentice in his Florence workshop. From the beginning, Leonardo upstaged his peers and soon his mentor, with whom he collaborated on religious paintings and on the copper ball that sits atop Brunelleschi’s dome. Leonardo’s earliest known independent work, a pen-and-ink landscape of the Arno Valley, dates to 1473, when he was 21. Within several years, he’d received his first commissions: an altarpiece for a chapel in the Palazzo della Signoria and the painting “The Adoration of the Magi” for a group of Augustinian monks. Leonardo left few personal reminiscences of his own, but we have glim- mers of the man. He was almost certainly gay—his lifelong companions were male, and he was twice accused of sodomy, though charges were LEONARDO The Scientist Leonardo not only observed and docu mented the natural world in his notebooks; he also launched experiments to under stand the mechanics of how it worked. He was especially captivated by the properties of water. On this sheet he depicted the movement of water when disturbed by a barrier (top) and when falling from a sluice into a pool (bottom), forming vortices. ROYAL COLLECTION TRUST/© HER MAJESTY QUEEN ELIZABETH II 2018 TODAY Leonardo lacked tools to demonstrate his idea that air and water share properties. Here, Gary Settles of Penn State University uses schlieren, an imaging technique, to visualize the indiscernible: tur bulence in the air.