Adventure in Italy: The Epicentre of the Renaissance
“Silenzio!,” (Quiet!)hushed a man dressed like a painter one of those Disney movies to the noisy strangers who had suddenly appeared in the room.
The travellers were wide-eyed with awe as they looked around and saw over 40 painters working on incredibly large canvases.
“These canvases are way bigger than my room!” exclaimed Teyus in a soft but rather surprised voice.
“Where are we?” asked Hari, as he looked at the various substances these “painters” were mixing, some of which smelled familiar.
Mira took out the Anulap and barely taking her eyes off the magnificent paintings, read what it said,
“Milan, Italy. 1490, workshop of Leonardo Da Vinci”.
Almost immediately she exclaimed “DA VINCI!!!”.
Teyus explained to Hari that Leonardo Da Vinci was probably the greatest artist of all time and that he had lived about 550 years ago during a period called the “Renaissance”. It was period of history when art, music, fashion and cuisine flourished. People were beginning to accept new concepts and were more open-minded. Italy was at the core of the Renaissance and Da Vinci was the greatest art master of this period. In short, they were pretty much in the epicentre of the Renaissance!
“Come on! Let’s have a look around!” suggested Mira. They carried Luctus on their shoulders so that they wouldn’t disturb the painters. What strange looks they got! You see, no one had seen a bicycle before. It would be another 300 years before bicycles were invented.
Hari went over to one of the artists who was mixing some substances. With the help of Mira, whose Italian was perfect, he asked what the artist was doing.
“Da Vinci is trying to create a new kind of paint medium that will last longer and dry faster. We are trying out different combinations, but this one with water simply doesn’t work and the blue pigment is far too transparent”, grumbled Da Vinci’s assistant.
Hari looked into the mixture and had a quick think. He then reached into his pocket and brought out a bottle of linseed oil and a blue powder which he said was “blue smalt” way of saying powdered glass with a chemical called cobalt oxide that gives it its very deep blue colour).
The painter quickly mixed the yolk of an egg with the oil and the blue smalt and could not believe the result! He had absolutely the perfect shade of blue his master had been wanting for his masterpiece. He bowed and thanked the travellers profusely. His master, Da Vinci, would finally be able to complete all his outstanding works of art and would no longer owe anyone money!
“Where is the great artist Leonardo Da Vinci?” asked Teyus, wondering if he were one of the artists in the room.
“Oh! He’s across town working on some sketches of the human body”, replied his assistant.
Teyus smiled because he knew what Da Vinci was doing. He was working on his famous drawing called the Vitruvian Man. The same Vitruvian Man which shows how all the proportions of the human body can be explained mathematically. They were about to witness real history!
Da Vinci’s assistant introduced himself as Salai and agreed to take them across town to see the master. But Salai was a greedy character and wanted something in return. Hari remembered the hair clip that Estella, the great Broadway actress, had given them in New York City, and gave it to him. Salai was pleased with his bribe, and led the way to Da Vinci’s studio.