Leonardo da Vinci. The Tension between Theory & Practice

This BA/MA course aims at an in-depth study of the drawings, paintings, and writings of Leonardo da Vinci (Vinci 1452-Amboise, France 1519). It seeks to define the relationship between Leonardo’s development as a painter and his scientific research. The student will become familiar not only with the artist’s individual masterpieces, but also with his writings on painting and the implications of his concept of painting as a science. The student will gain insight in the design process of Leonardo’s painted works through an attentive analysis of the preparatory drawings that reveal a close study of cause and effect in Nature.

Course Objectives
To introduce the student to the art and scientific thought of Leonardo da Vinci and to enable him or her to understand and appreciate the originality and universality of his genius. The student will learn the significance of Leonardo’s pioneering research in various branches of knowledge and will understand how that research relates to his artistic ideas about painting and his practice. The student will become familiar with the role drawing played not only in the creative process, but also in the transmission of the vast body of knowledge Leonardo gathered with the intention to compile illustrated treatises for the benefit of the painter. Finally, daily class discussions of the literature in the Reader will aid the student in developing academic skills.

Course Structure
The course will be a combination of lectures with power point presentation/discussions of the readings in class and guided visits on site in museums in Florence.

Course Requirements
Students will write a research paper with a 20 minutes-presentation at the institute (list of topics and outline term paper will be handed out at the beginning of the course). Paper: 2500 words (MA-level: 4000 words). Your presentation should include: brief outline of research question, state of research, method of research, sources used, additional questions raised, new insights, bibliography. Knowledge should reflect research, readings (Reader) and lectures.

For additional information on the Program, the Test, and the Bibliography, see the cursusbeschrijving (pdf) in Dutch.

Professor: Michael W. Kwakkelstein, PhD
Dates: Utrecht (TBD) and NIKI Florence, August 16-27, 2022.
Credits: 6 ECTS
Costs: € 10 per person per night (€ 25 per person per night for students who are not registered at one of the participating Dutch universities) Museum visits and travel expenses not included.

To apply for this course, please send a grade overview with GPA, a cv, and a letter of motivation before May 1, 2022, to professor Michael W. Kwakkelstein PhD.

Pdf version of this text.