The Renaissance period is characterized mostly by a renewed focus on the symbolism and skill represented in the artworks of the ancient world. This renewed focus on learning and knowledge encouraged the curious Leonardo to explore all his interests in nature and life. Discovering how things work had fascinated him since he was a young boy in the Italian countryside. More than just painting, Leonardo displayed a particular genius in investigating many subjects, constantly learning, observing and making hypotheses that he would test out whenever he could. During his life, da Vinci took time out from his art to re-design cities, sketch out canals and invent war machines. He kept large collections of these sketches that also show his interest in birds and other flying things. These studies led him to investigate different possible types of flying machines and the instruments that they would need aboard. Demonstrating a genius for invention and insightful inquiry centuries ahead of his time, it can be argued that Leonardo da Vinci is as famous as an early engineering genius as he is as an artist.
By all accounts, Leonardo’s interests in science and the arts emerged at the same time from the same source of creative genius. “From a very early age, Leonardo was fascinated by the wonders of nature and, indeed, he learned a great deal by observing nature … The inventions with which, in later years, he would amaze his contemporaries … had roots in that formative period. Biographer Giorgio Vasari reported that from earliest boyhood, Leonardo amused himself by drawing models of machines.”2 His studies included geometry as well as the mechanical workings of gears and winches, human anatomy, military machines, and hydraulic engineering. The movements of air, wind, water, clouds, snow, and rain also .interested him as well as the anatomical movements of the birds and animals around him. . He drew up plans for urban sanitary developments and structural fortifications and designed several machines that would not be realized for several centuries.