Twitting Da Vinci: following the genius in his geological path

Leonardo Da Vinci, a genius! He was a writer, a scientist, an artist. He keeps inspiring novelists, artists,  scientists around the world. In these hard days for the loss of people caused by Amatrice Earthquake, and the loss also of architectural beauties, a book celebrating the geology of Italy through the studies of Leonardo flatters us.

Italy belongs to Italians, Italy belongs to the world since it is a concentration of artistically beauties, but also it is an Open air museum, as the book of Ann Pizzorusso Twitting Da Vinci masterfully shows. Pizzorusso was at EGU 2016 Earth sciences and Art session also to show a less known aspect of Leonardo.

He is often at the centre of our attention for his paintings  The Monalisa and The Last Supper that have become cults in contemporary society, with people often looking for esoteric meanings in them, transforming them into real and proper enigmas. But Leonardo, as the author reports in the book, was also a geologist. He not only understood the formation of rocks, but was able to depict them accurately.

Want to have an example directly from one of his paintings? then choose the Virgin of the Rocks, but the one in Louvre, since writes Ann, we can use geology as a diagnostic tool to determine the authenticity of works created by him. This painting includes details about the landscape and the nature of the rocks that cannot be found in the other homonym painting, the one hosted in London. Object of an ever lasting debate, still remain doubts about its attribution to Leonardo. Ann literary reads in the Louvre painting a detailed geology, described in one of his works in this way : “The grotto is made of weathered sandstone which has been dissected by a layer of harder rock. At the top of the grotto are rounded weathered mounds (spherical weathering) of sandstone, a sedimentary rock. Above the Virgin’s head is a rock with vertical relief. This is diabase, an igneous rock. The diabase was injected as a molten liquid, forming a band (sill) several feet high over the Virgin’s head. Since it was a molten liquid when it spread over the sandstone, it contracted as it cooled, forming vertical or columnar joints. Directly above the Virgin’s head is a horizontal crack in the rocks, called a basal or bottom contact, which is the seam between the diabase above and the sandstone below. The column of diabase extends upward until it meets another horizontal contact surface and the rock formation changes to sandstone at the top of the grotto…”.

In doing so, she beautifully gives and example of how Nature can be studied with different approaches, one being the painting of a genius who was carefully observing nature. Twitting da Vinci it is not just about geology and it si not just about Leonardo. By reading it you will bump also into Dante, Virgilio, and several myths since Pizzorusso mixes literature, art, medicine and religion. It is a book full of beautiful pictures, an intense collection of data and curiosities about the geology of Italy. But as she declare in an interview, it is not just a science book. It is a travel book, a spiritual book, an environmental book.

Watch an interview to Ann Pizzorusso about the book

ref: Italy an Open Air Museum EOS 18 EGU 2016

Ann Pizzorusso (1996) Leonardo’s Geology: The Authenticity of the Virgin of the Rocks Leonardo Vol. 29, No. 3 (1996), pp. 197-200

Twittando Da Vinci the book see info in