Antique Map of Mantua, Braun and Hogenberg, 1597. 

Mantua (EN), Mantova (IT), Mantoue (FR) 

Mantua is a UNESCO heritage site.  “Important for the value of their architecture and for their prominent role in the dissemination of Renaissance culture.  The ideals of the Renaissance, fostered by the Gonzaga family, are present in the towns ‘morphology and architecture.’”

An ancient settlement, Mantua was named for the Greek oracle, Manto.  During the Roman Empire, Virgil writes of his homeland, Mantua.  “Where silver swans sail down the watery road, and graze the floating herbage of the flood.”

In 1198 a system of dams was created to manage the seasonal flooding of the Mincio River surrounding Mantua.  Creating the Saint George Bridge (Ponte di San Giorgio) leading to the Saint George Castle (Castello di San Giorgio), home of Isabella d’Este.  This bridge is the prominent man made feature in Leonardo’s painting La Joconde. 


Leonardo fascinated with flight was limited by the technology of his day.  However, the genius was unencumbered by these physical limitations.  Instead Leonardo painted flight.  Enabling him to soar over his beloved Italy.


Using the geometry theory he learned, working with Luca Pacioli from 1496-1499 in Milan.  Leonardo was able to create an accurate view of flight by applying mathematics.  Using a stationary point on the map and altitude.  The altitude's right angle can be used to determine the view of surrounding landmarks, by factoring the hypotenuse.  

Using this method the distance to natural features in the surrounding landscape can be acquired.  Scaling down these distances to fit the perimeters of the portrait, would create an accurate view of flight in the painting.  Framing the Marchioness with the lands she governed.

Leonardo painted this portrait, five centuries ahead of its time.  The landscape was not eidentifiable until satellite imagery became available.  The painting so complex, the viewer could not recognize the polymath brilliance, stored in its brush strokes.  Leonardo the visionary, the futurist, the artist, the mathematician, and the inventor, become visible here, in this glorious painting by the timeless master of the Renaissance.  

      Study of Architecture, Leonardo da Vinci, 1499.
Illustrating the hyotenuse from the altitude of 
 the watchtower to distance of castle turret.

    Bird's Eye View of Val di Chiana, Leonardo da Vinci, 1503.