da Vinci – Master of Revels

If you think that Leonardo only had his mind on engineering, anatomy, perfecting the art of light and color  and Mona Lisa’s smile you would be wrong. The archetypal Renaissance man, known for his painting, sculpture, architecture and inventive genuis was also in charge of  orchestrating ducal banquets for Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan.  Although I wouldn’t equate his interest in event planning to that of Colin Cowie (Cowie orchestrated Oprah’s famous Farewell Party at Chicago’s Four Seasons Hotel) Leonardo did enjoy the diversion of party planning designing dramatic installations for the Milanese court. Leonardo once used fireworks to create a great lion that was designed to walk a few steps, roar and then burst its chest in a display of flowers and birds.

As Master of Revels, Leonardo was responsible for the production and supervision of elaborate court entertainments, often serving as a theatrical designer, creator of stage sets and mechanical musical instruments. In January of 1490 Leonardo arranged a dramatic production of Il Paradiso, for of the Duchess of Milan. He designed the sets and costumes, including a sound and light show devised with “the great genius and skill of Maestro Leonardo Vinci the Florentine, a Paradise with all the seven planets orbiting round”.

*chiaroscuro, a style of shading  introduced by Leonardo da Vinci using light and dark paints to define three-dimensional shapes and expand the range of luminance, creating a greater sense of depth.