To read more about Charlotte Mason picture study and to see the other picture study aids I have available, click here.
The greatest gifts are often seen, in the course of nature, rained by celestial influences on human creatures; and sometimes, in supernatural fashion, beauty, grace, and talent are united beyond measure in one single person, in a manner that to whatever such an one turns his attention, his every action is so divine, that, surpassing all other men, it makes itself clearly known as a thing bestowed by God (as it is), and not acquired by human art. This was seen by all mankind in Leonardo da Vinci, in whom, besides a beauty of body never sufficiently extolled, there was an infinite grace in all his actions; and so great was his genius, and such its growth, that to whatever difficulties he turned his mind, he solved them with ease. In him was great bodily strength, joined to dexterity, with a spirit and courage ever royal and magnanimous; and the fame of his name so increased, that not only in his lifetime was he held in esteem, but his reputation became even greater among posterity after his death.Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, & Architects
In a photo album somewhere in my house there is a photograph of an art gallery wall. In the middle of this gold-toned wall is a tiny rectangle with the barely-discernible image of a woman in it. She is behind thick glass and her green-hued features are difficult to see in detail at such a distance, but the lack of proximity is explained by the sea of the backs of heads in the bottom part of the photograph. Even at that distance, however, her unmistakable form is easily recognized.
This was is as close as I got when I visited the Louvre 20 years ago to a Leonardo da Vinci original. The oft-professed “most famous painting in the world.” The Mona Lisa.
I would honestly love to see more of his pieces. The only one in all of the Americas is Ginevra de’ Benci’s pale face at the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. I have read in various places, and believe entirely based on what I’ve seen with paintings by other artists, that reproductions can not even remotely give his originals justice. There is something about experiencing a piece in person, not only the true colors with my own eyes, but seeing the brushstrokes. The fingerprints. The work itself.
Leonardo himself was, as I say about many artists, an interesting character. But what I truly appreciate about him was the frenetic pace of his mind. He moved from one project to another project; from one medium to another medium; from one study to another study; from one city to another city. He was so consumed by the myriad paths his mind traveled that many of his pieces are unfinished. Aside from the creations we have in his journals, had he been gifted with more regular patrons or even a little more self-discipline, it’s amazing to think about the things he may have come up with.
Today I’m offering a free Picture Study Aid for Leonardo da Vinci that includes the six images selected for the AmblesideOnline artist study rotation. This 26-page PDF offers a short story from his childhood, key topics about six of his paintings, and six printable versions of the paintings (without artist name or titles) at the end.
I do include a brief overview of Charlotte Mason picture study at the beginning of the file, however, I have also written posts here on the blog about why picture study is important and how we do it in both our home and homeschool co-op.
You can download the file at the link at the end of the post!
This is by no means an exhaustive analysis or study of each piece, and that is intentional. I tried to keep it all very simple in the spirit of there being, “no talk about schools of painting, little about style; consideration of these matters comes in later life, the first and most important thing is to know the pictures themselves. As in a worthy book we leave the author to tell his own tale, so do we trust a picture to tell its tale through the medium the artist gave it. In the region of art as else-where we shut out the middleman.” (vol 6 pg 216)
For enjoying art with children in general, I also included a page of art sources that I’ve found particularly good:
For younger children, I highly recommend the Mini-Master series by Julie Merberg and Suzanne Bober. Also, the Touch The Art series by Julie Appel and Amy Guglielmo.
For both younger and older children, the Come Look With Me series by Gladys S. Blizzard is excellent.
You may download it below for personal use in your own homeschool (Ambleside Online, another Charlotte Mason curriculum, or otherwise). And as always, if you have any feedback or suggestions, I would love for you to fill out my feedback form!