Photographer's Note

LEONARDO Shot on July 13, 2007, posted January 12, 2008

Lately Ive been much too busy working on a book to fully enjoy Trekearth. Submitting the last chapter of Leonardos Universe to the publisher, the National Geographic, coincides with the 200th photo that Ive submitted to Trekearth. Accordingly, I decided to mark the occasion by posting an image of Leonardo. The statue occupies a niche on the faade of the Uffizi in Florence. A few other favorite sons of the Italian Renaissance occupy similar niches at the great museum, including Leonardos great rival Michelangelo.

Leonardos life spanned 67 years of the Italian Renaissance, one of the defining periods in human history a time of political turbulence and intrigue, a time of unrivaled creativity in art and science. Leonardo, the paragon Renaissance man, was both a man of his times, but also a man far beyond his times. Known to us primarily as an artist, he actually produced no more than fifteen paintings less than a dozen or so which have survived. This part-time artist, however, produced the two most famous paintings in all of history: The Last Supper was described by the legendary Oxford art historian, Kenneth Clark, as the "keystone of Western Art." And an unremarkable woman, the wife of a Florentine merchant, was immortalized as the Mona Lisa, now the crown jewel of the Louvre. In a museum that owns 380,000 items, more than 90% of the six million annual visitors freely confess their primary aim: to view this surprisingly small (77x53 cm) wooden panel, painted 500 years ago.

An illegitimate child, Leonardo has come to define creative human genius transformative genius. Leonardos modus operandi involved the total integration of art and science of painting, architecture, sculpture, music, mathematics, physics, biology, astronomy, geology and engineering. Ultimately, in every aspect of his life while doing science and engineering, or on the infrequent occasions while creating art he was operating as the consummate scientist. And the cross-fertilization of ideas and their seamless integration led to many of his astonishing achievements. In each case, he was engaged in systematic experimentation, ultimately seeking connections. Thus, it is not surprising that in signing off from a number of his notebooks, he wrote disciple of experience, which in Italian can be translated to disciple of experiment.

Ultimately, "Leonardos Universe" explores the intersection of art and science, presenting some of the wondrous works of art of the Italian Renaissance, as well as world-class photographs produced National Geographic photographers. If Leonardo were alive today, I would venture, photography would be among his passions! But then, he might not have had time to create some of the most sublime and most powerful paintings in history. That is especially true, if he happened to become addicted to Trekearth. Cobbling together elements of art and technology reflects the true spirit of Leonardo.

I dedicate this photograph to my Italian friends!

Nikon D-70 18-70 mm Nikkor lens, tripod, fill flash.

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