Decoding Davinci: When Science Meets Art

November 9, 2009 at 12:43 am (Artist Musings)

At the beginning of the year I asked a teacher  at my son’s school if the fifth grade class would be taking a field trip to Artspace, as all of the fifth grade classes have done for the last four years. Her response to me was that  she didn’t know because after all, “they don’t give EOG’s (end of grade tests) in art.”

"La Bella Principessa"

A couple of weeks ago, news broke that an unsigned chalk, ink and pencil drawing, known as “La Bella Principessa,” was matched to Leonardo Da Vinci. The painting was linked to Da Vinci from a fingerprint and palm print found on the work.

The fingerprint was analyzed by Peter Paul Biro, a Canadian forensic art expert. “Biro examined multispectral images of the drawing taken by the Lumiere Technology laboratory in Paris, which used a special digital scanner to show successive layers of the work.” [ROB GILLIES, Associated Press Writer]

“Science, technology, scholars and art historians are learning to work together to solve these incredibly complex puzzles,” said Biro.

Obviously, I understand the importance of studying reading, writing, and arithmetic. But I fear that when asked to scientifically analyze a lost Picasso painting, these future math and science wizards will ask, “Picasso who?”

Now in all fairness to  teachers, last week I had the pleasure of taking the fifth grade class of Aversboro Elementary on a tour of Artspace. The kids were on a field trip accompanied by both their math teacher and art specialist. Both teachers agreed that the arts are an important part of a well-rounded curriculum. Fortunately, the Aversboro teachers are not alone.

“Similar to English, math, science and the other core subjects, the arts (dance, music, theater, and visual arts) are challenging subjects with rigorous content and achievement standards at the state and national levels… In addition to studying the arts for their own sake, experiencing and making works of art benefits students in their intellectual, personal, and social development, and can be particularly beneficial for students from economically disadvantaged circumstances and those who are at risk of not succeeding in school.” [US Department of Education, August 26,  2004]


  1. Elizabeth Freeman said,

    I couldn’t agree more with your assessment. As an secondary level educator I was stunned to find out that our district only allows 45 min per week for music AND art, alternating weeks. EEK. Where is the time for the child who needs that outlet?

    Loved this post. Love your work.

    Peace for the holidays!


  2. onlylauren said,

    Thanks so much for your comment. I really am fortunate that we are in a good school district and that my kids are getting a good public school education. I just wish that there was more value placed on the arts.


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