If Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo were alive today, what would they make of LED lighting? Both were scholars, architects and engineers (when they weren’t creating masterpieces, that is), so one would imagine they couldn’t fail to be captivated and impressed. Would modern-day LED lighting have influenced the famous Renaissance figures?
The Renaissance period started in Italy at the end of the Hundred Years War. This elegant and creative era stretched between 1450 and 1600. Among the famous composers of the time were William Byrd and Claudio Monteverdi. It was a prodigious time for the arts, producing a wealth of talent including Titian, Botticelli, and Raphael, as well as da Vinci and Michelangelo. Inventions too were prolific, with Galileo discovering the pendulum and the first printing press being made in 1456 by Gutenberg. I’m sure these Renaissance icons would be very envious of our energy-saving LED lighting today!
This was a remarkable period in history, and not surprisingly referred to as the start of the modern era. Renaissance ingenuity has shaped our lives today. Imagine being able to take everyday things like laptops, supermarkets and LED lighting for granted in the 14th Century.
For the ladies, the Renaissance saw the debut of the rigid boned corset (no doubt hugely unpopular and the cause of many agonies). And the gentlemen cut a dash in their doublets showing a well-turned angle and hose-clad legs.
Christopher Columbus discovered America in 1492. This was indirectly responsible for the import of such delicacies as maize, chocolate, peanuts and vanilla, not to mention a certain military gentleman’s Southern fried chicken.
Take the Sistine Chapel ceiling … four years in the painting between 1508 and 1512! Michelangelo didn’t want the commission. His passion was sculpture. Would he have been more willing to paint the Chapel ceiling with the benefit of LEDs? Of course if modern-day lighting had been around, it would undoubtedly have gone hand in hand with health and safety, so the Sistine Chapel wouldn’t be what it is today!
Lighting in the Renaissance period depended on candles, oil lamps and torches, as it had in Medieval times. Housekeeping would have been a constant battle against smoke and oily fumes, presenting a huge problem for the artists of the times. Imagine seeing your latest and most precious work of art sullied by a guttering candle!
Would fewer artists have starved in garrets if they had electric light? Would they have increased their commissions by displaying their work, suitably lit by LEDs? How much more classical music would we enjoy today if the composers could have easily seen their manuscripts 24 hours a day?
Of course this is all conjecture. Despite the inventiveness of the Renaissance greats, the incandescent light bulb was still almost 300 years away, let alone the development of LEDs. But perhaps we can take some comfort from knowing, that for them, at least one modern ‘convenience’ was just around the corner … the flushing loo was invented in 1596.