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Leonardo Da Vinci began to record his artistic creation and scientific research from the age of 30. He was prepared to write the three works of painting theory, mechanics and anatomy. Unfortunately, he was not able to achieve it and left a large number of notes. The notes of Leonardo's painting theory can be divided into two parts: the theory of aesthetics and the basic science of painting. The former mainly discusses the relationship between painting and reality, the relationship between painting and other art; the latter expounds the knowledge of perspective, light and shadow, human body proportion and anatomy, people's movement and expression as well as natural phenomena.
Leonardo's notes on aesthetics are compared with paintings, such as poetry, music and sculpture. From the ancient times to the Renaissance, the status of painting had always been low, and was derogated as the "skill" of the aristocracy, a "handicraft work", a "mechanical art", and so on. At the beginning of the Renaissance, this traditional view is still deep-rooted. In the time of the change in the production relationship, the styling artists and the handicraftsmen belong to the advanced social class. Many of them are both excellent artists, and are proficient in smelting and casting, human anatomy, geometry and mathematics.
Therefore, painters naturally cannot tolerate humble status and resist old traditional ideas. Leonardo's defense of painting reflects the voice of painters at that time. Leonardo compares the so-called "free art" with the so-called "free art" of music, poetry, geometry and astronomy, proving that painting is not a "mechanical manual labor" but a science, a natural "legitimate son", the most effective means to study nature and to express scientific knowledge, which is important in the "comparative theory". One of the themes of the theme.
According to the view that "all our knowledge comes from perception", Leonardo analyzes the relationship between painting and reality, pointing out that nature is the source of painting, and painting is the imitator of nature. According to the development history of painting since ancient Rome, Leonardo pointed out that if the painter takes a natural law, the painting will flourish. Two aspects of philosophy and history show that painters must be masters of nature.
Leonardo further elaborated: "the painter's heart should be like a mirror, transform itself into the color of the object, and take the image of all the objects in front of them, and should know that if you are not a versatile capable hand that can reproduce all the forms of nature with art, it is not a brilliant painter. That is to say, painting is reflected in the nature of the painter's heart, and it is reproduced by artistic means. Leonardo also pointed out: "a painter who does not use reason by practice and the judgment of the naked eye, as a mirror, will only copy the things in front of them, but know nothing about them." (all of which are drawn from Leonardo's theory of painting).
Leonardo demands that painters not only rely on their senses to understand the world, but also to use reason to reveal the laws of nature. Leonardo, on the one hand, takes nature as a teacher, on the one hand, emphasizes the importance of reason, and requires the painter to possess the knowledge of perspective, light and shadow, human anatomy and so on, to guide the creation, faithfully reflect the form of the nature, and to combine with the rich imagination to create the image that is not in nature.