How Leonardo da Vinci asked for a job

Imagine we turned back the clock and said you were Leonardo da Vinci, but not exactly the well-known man in the portrait. Rather, let's say you were a much younger Leonardo, about 30 years old, and you really needed to land a job. What would you say to a prospective employer? How would you market yourself?

How about something like this:

"Dear Sir, I know you've interviewed a lot of people for this job and seen their proposals for your military projects. Their concepts relate to standard procedure. Without prejudice to anyone, I'd like to show you some of my private work and offer my services. I'll list some below.

"I can build some pretty light but strong bridges that you can carry around with your army; and I can build mortars that can throw hundreds of stones and terrify your enemy; and I have quite a few other useful contraptions I'd like to show you. Oh, and in times of peace I can also paint, design buildings (both public and private) or even create sculptures, if you like."

Remarkably, this is more or less how Leonardo presented himself in 1482 to Ludovico il Moro, the Duke of Milan. His words have been an interesting resource for many scholars.

Recently, Marc Cenedella of the job site posted a photograph and translation of the enquiry letter on his blog page. He calls it Leonardo's "resume'." It's intriguing to read it.

Here are some excerpts:

1. I have a sort of extremely light and strong bridges, adapted to be most easily carried, and with them you may pursue, and at any time flee from the enemy; and others, secure and indestructible by fire and battle, easy and convenient to lift and place. Also methods of burning and destroying those of the enemy.
4. Again, I have kinds of mortars; most convenient and easy to carry; and with these I can fling small stones almost resembling a storm; and with the smoke of these cause great terror to the enemy, to his great detriment and confusion.
10. In times of peace I believe I can give perfect satisfaction and to the equal of any other in architecture and the composition of buildings public and private; and in guiding water from one place to another.

In closing, Leonardo offers to work on a large bronze horse sculpture. He also says he's willing to prove himself, if necessary, by conducting demonstrations on Ludovico's property to show his inventions in action.

In case you're wondering, Leonardo got the job. He lived in Milan for 17 years and produced many famous works.

If you'd like to read more, here's the link to Cenedella's post. It points out the advantages of Leonardo's marketing approach: Leonardo da Vinci's Resume'

Related da Vinci posts in this blog:

Why do we merely play with our tools?

Two mysteries solved.

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