Profs & Pints Charlottesville: Leonardo da Vinci's Way of Seeing--Door tickets remain available.

By Profs and Pints (other events)

Tuesday, September 26 2023 5:30 PM 8:00 PM EDT

Advance ticket sales have ended but plenty of additional tickets remain available at the door.

Profs and Pints Charlottesville presents: “Leonardo da Vinci’s Way of Seeing,” on the Renaissance genius’s combination of art and science as a model for thinkers today, with Francesca Fiorani, Commonwealth professor of art history at the University of Virginia and author of The Shadow Drawing: How Science Taught Leonardo How to Paint.

Leonardo da Vinci has long been celebrated as the ultimate Renaissance figure, remembered as both a masterful painter who gave us the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper and as a visionary inventor who anticipated airplanes, hot-air balloons, and other technological marvels. After his death both his peers and his rivals created the myth of the two Leonardos: an artist in youth and a scientist in later years. The real Leonardo, however, was a very different and much more interesting figure, someone whose mind drew from multiple fields at once and whose artistic works and scientific advances were in many ways inseparable.

Come to the Graduate Charlottesville to explore Leonard da Vinci’s mind with the help of Professor Francesca Fiorani, a scholar focused on the intersections of art, science and technology in the early modern period. Having extensively studied Leonardo da Vinci’s optics and his lifelong project of transferring his observations of the natural world from geometrical diagrams to paintings and drawings, she’ll reacquaint you with the Italian genius in ways you’ll find intellectually thrilling, no matter where your interests lie.

Taking a fresh look at Leonardo’s celebrated but challenging notebooks and his famous painting and drawings, Professor Fiorani will show how Leonardo became fluent in science while still a young man. As an apprentice in a Florence studio, he developed a lifelong interest (bordering on obsession) with the science of optics, which tells us how we see what we see. He believed that his art would grow only as his knowledge of light and shadow deepened.

Given Leonardo’s scientific bent, one might think this meant that he wanted to turn himself into a human camera. In fact, he aspired to use science to capture—as no artist before him had ever done—the interior lives and psychological depths of his subjects.

He hoped in his life to take one further step and gather his scientific knowledge in a book that would be even more important than his paintings. Professor Fiorani will discuss how his resulting Treatise on Painting would be disfigured, ignored, and lost in subsequent centuries, and she’ll reconstruct the wisdom he’d hoped it would impart. His synthetic way of thinking has become increasingly difficult to achieve in a world where training in the disciplines has become highly specialized, but it remains at the root of innovation in any field. (Advance tickets: $13.50 plus sales tax and processing fees. Doors: $17, or $15 with a student ID. Listed time is for doors. Talk starts 30 minutes later.)

Image: From a print of an 1817 engraving of Leonardo da Vinci by Raffaello Sanzio Morghen (Wikimedia Commons).