One of the greatest illustrations of the world of arts fight against the iron control of the Christian church can be seen in the works of Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelodi Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni and their sponsorship by the wealthy mercantile family, the De Medici family of Tuscany. While there were many artists who contributed during this period the above two are responsible for more advances than all of the others combined. This was not as much because of the volume of work that each of these men produced, which was substantial, but because of the innovations that they were able to develop which are still not only used by all artists today but make them the most well known artists in history.
There is much speculation that Da Vinci and Michelangelo atheists but the facts are that there is simply no real evidence to support this. There are two much more likely possibilities however. The first is that these two masters were actually Christians who, like Martin Luther a century later, were rebelling against Vatican control and corruption. The other possibility however seems to be much more likely.
There is a great deal of speculation, which is mirrored in Dan Brown´s controversial book “The Da Vinci Code” that both Da Vinci and Michelangelo were actually practicing Paganswho used their art to hide Pagan ideals and teachings in much the same way that African Slaves used Catholic symbolism to hide Voodun ritual from the Church and Christian slaver owners. The are many classes on these connections for people who are studying art and design careers in college today.
The most famous painting in history, and still mysterious, was undoubtedly the Mona Lisa. Recent findings in this painting reveal hidden animal images in the background. Da Vinci used the landscape to, in a sense, merge the natural world in a sublime way that defied discovery for 500 years. Many of the same techniques, blending a naturalistic view with a religious one, were also used by Michelangelo and this concept was, at the time, completely new to the world of art. Much of Da Vinci´s success can be attributed to the fact that he not only wondered how a bird could fly, he actually spent considerable time studying and experimenting on flight itself. The Master not only enjoyed the spectacle of flight, he wanted to thoroughly understand it and this understanding segued naturally into his art. The same is true of Michelangelo. Raised by a merchant father, who refused to allow him to work with his hand, Michelangelo would study a block of marble for weeks or months, mentally visually each cut that needed to be made and completing the sculpture in his mind before ever picking up a chisel.