Scientific Aspects of Leonardo da Vinci's Drawings: An Interdisciplinary Model

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While interdisciplinary courses can help demonstrate the relevance of learning to students and reinforce education from different fields, they can be difficult to implement and are often not cost effective. An interdisciplinary art history course at Ohio's Sinclair Community College incorporates science into the art history curriculum, making use of computer and multimedia presentation techniques. The course presents slides depicting Leonardo da Vinci's scientific interests through sketches and notes about military engineering, botany, the flight of birds, horses, animal and human dissections, optics, geology, geography, proportions, hydraulics, and flight. Six paintings are utilized in the course to represent the artist's general and specific interests throughout the span of his career. These paintings provide evidence of the artist's knowledge of anatomy and ability to capture scientific images in detail. Some of the images presented are facial bone structure, effects of light and shade relating to structure, color, and value contrasts, landscape, bone structure of hands and feet, geology, plants and flowers, animals, and the human eye. In addition to the traditional slide and lecture format, computers are also used to demonstrate the integration of art and science. Since the team approach in teaching interdisciplinary studies may be difficult to implement, instructors may explore and share different interdisciplinary models available through computer technology. In addition, multimedia computer programs are preferred over traditional textbooks by art history students.


Paper presented at the National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development Conference in Austin, TX, May 1995.