The Genius of Leonardo da Vinci

Sophia with Italian Ambassador Antonio Bernardini at an exhibit honoring Leonardo da Vinci

I recently entered the Italian Embassy in Brasília, the capital of Brazil, and felt like I was stepping back in time. Like other visitors, I got a glimpse into the mind of one of the world’s most remarkable geniuses. An exhibition entitled “Leonardo da Vinci Lives” celebrates the work of the Renaissance master.

Although da Vinci died 500 years ago, in 1519, his modern sensibilities are still apparent. “Da Vinci is relevant today for many reasons,” said Antonio Bernardini, the Italian Ambassador to Brazil. “We need to celebrate his genius. Imagine that he was able to design a machine that did not even exist at the time, and somehow imagine its creation.” 

Wooden models of catapults, flying machines, bicycles, and other objects that da Vinci created or designed filled the room. Visitors could learn more about the brilliance of this thinker, and gain insights into The Mona Lisa, perhaps the world’s most famous painting. The mysterious smile of its subject, according to studies, indicates that she is hiding a secret. 

Da Vinci’s areas of interest and expertise ranged across many fields—from science, math, and engineering to drawing, architecture, and sculpture. 


A life-sized model of the flying machine that da Vinci envisioned


Brazil is not the only country to celebrate da Vinci this year. France, the United Kingdom, Italy, and other countries are also commemorating the Italian master.

Because he was ahead of his time, da Vinci faced criticism during his life. He designed many things that people told him would not work or were absurd, yet we use them today. Among his innovations were the parachute, the helicopter, the calculator, and armored fighting vehicles. 

“Creating this exhibition presented an opportunity for the Embassy to show Leonardo’s work,” Bernardini explained. “It’s also a great chance to open the Embassy for people who don’t usually come here. Lots of students are coming to visit and learning about da Vinci.” 

As da Vinci, himself, said, “Learn how to see. Realize that everything connects to everything else.”


A model of a bicycle based on drawings by Leonardo da Vinci







Photos courtesy of the author