Leonardo da Vinci was fascinated with the form of the spiral. His helicopter takes the form of an aerial screw, following the example of a device earlier brought to Europe from Asia in the form of a children's toy.

To learn more about the Air Screw and see more of da Vinci’s spiral inventions, visit:

Chicago Museum of Science & Industry Exhibit

Leonardo Da Vinci
Under Construction

da vinci deluge
da vinci leda spiral hair
Spiral cow uterus
da vinci helicopter drawing
da vinci helicopter model
Leda, c. 1504
The braids in her hair resemble ammonite fossils, which da Vinci studied.
The Deluge, c. 1511
Da Vinci had a lifelong fascination with water.

Renaissance Man

"Because of the multiplicity of interests that spurred him to pursue every field of knowledge . . . Leonardo can be considered, quite rightly, to have been the universal genius par excellence, and with all the disquieting overtones inherent in that term. Man is as uncomfortable today, faced with a genius, as he was in the 16th century. Five centuries have passed, yet we still view Leonardo with awe."

Liana Bortolon


The very multiplicity of the interests which Leonardo represented is commentary on how little either his thought or his action was compartmentalized into those divisions which have become so characteristic of the modern world.
The man who more than any other single figure has seemed to successive generations to be a microcosm of the creative forces of his age, the archetype of universal man, was at once scientist and artist, theorist and practitioner.

He stood at a critical point when the great lines of division were beginning. The arts were ceasing to be crafts and were becoming "fine arts." The opposition between the world of science and the world of art was becoming discernible. The theorist was coming to be separated from the practical worker. Yet for Leonardo these dichotomies did not exist. The highest achievements of art could be determined by scientific rules, on the proportions of the human body, on perspective, on effects of light and shadow.

Like those of his contemporaries who were concerned with harmonizing the historical religions and philosophic traditions, Leonardo perceived behind the apparent multiplicity of the universe a single truth.

Professor Gerhard Rempel,
Western New England College

Leonardo & Fibonnacci
Representation of the Natural World

“The unifying theme of Leonardo’s researches was an urge to understand the phenomena of nature. This would allow the artist to create a true image of the world, and indeed some of Leonardo’s most beautiful drawings of plants and animals were studies for his paintings and sculptures. He also intended to write a treatise on the theory of painting, which would cover many aspects of the appearance of the natural world. This in turn spawned separate treatises—never completed—on anatomy (both human and animal), on the movement of water, and on botany, concentrating on the physical structure of plants and trees.”

from "The Royal Collection"

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Da Vinci & Fibonacci

As we know from reading about the golden mean, mathematic principles and art have long had an affinity for each other. Da Vinci, as both artist and mathematician, is the ultimate representative of this fusion. An assiduous student of proportion, da Vinci famously defined ideal human proportions in his Vetruvian Man, a figure largely arranged around the golden ratio. In his paintings as well, da Vinci frequently made use of golden rectangles.

Read more about da Vinci and the divine proportion.