DANIEL ZANELLA and ALEXANDER WEYGERS Modern Renaissance Men By Matthew Elton For almost a millennium, Europe was stuck in the Middle Ages, a time when most of the population spent their entire lives farming and trying to stay alive. However, as trade revived and ideas spread, a new era dawned. This era became known as the Renaissance. It was a time of increased interest in the arts and sciences. Master artists and inventors of this era became known as Renaissance Men. Their characteristics can still be found in modern Renaissance Men of our own era. Castiglione was a Renaissance author who wrote The Book of the Courtier in 1528. His book consists of a series of fictional conversations between the courtiers of the Duke of Urbino. To this day, The Book of the Courtier remains the most historically reliable account of life in a Renaissance court. Castiglione focuses on what it means to be a Renaissance Man. The etiquette of the Renaissance court, combined with the creativity of the greatest artists and the intellectualism of the greatest thinkers, is what makes a Renaissance Man. Daniel Zanella is a modern Renaissance Man. He is intelligent, artistic, and skilled in many fields. At age twenty-one, Daniel Zanella was one of the youngest architects in Italy, the nation where the Renaissance first emerged. Zanella was so skilled that he was hired to help construct buildings for the 1955 Winter Olympic Games. Zanella was not only a master builder. He was also a master artist. During that years Olympics, a group of professional artists chose to include some of Zanellas masterpieces in an exhibition they were having. Although art is Zanellas passion, his primary source of employment is in the construction field. Zanella traveled to Canada, where he built fifty houses, helped to rebuild the Peace Tower on Parliament Hill, and also helped to renovate the famous Rideau Locks. In Italy, Zanella was chosen by former Italian ambassador Paolo Fulci to draw architectural plans for the restoration of the ancient Italian Embassy Residence. Other plans for restoration were also drawn by Carleton University and the same contractors that built the Skydome. However, Zanellas plans were chosen. According to Paolo Fulci, Zanellas plans simply made the most the most sense. Zanella used the finest material available to restore the Italian Embassy Residence to mint condition. The Italian Ambassador was so impressed that he attempted to award Zanella with the title Cavalierato di Lavoro, the highest honor for an Italian citizen. However, the Italian government refused to grant Zanella this award because Zanella was a Canadian citizen, and at that time, the Italian government did not recognize those with citizenship in foreign nations to be true Italian citizens. Daniel Zanella is a master builder, architect, painter, and poet. His success in many fields of art and engineering has made him a modern Renaissance Man. Alexander Weygers is also a modern Renaissance Man. Weygers was born and raised in Java, Indonesia. His father was in charge of a sugar plantation. His mother was a school teacher. Since he was a boy, Weygers was fascinated with nature, and the natural forces that govern our world. At the age of fifteen, Weygers was sent to Holland to receive a European education. He graduated from the Goningen Politechnicum with a degree in mechanical engineering, and then went on to earn a degree in shipbuilding at the University of Dordrecht. At the age of thirty, Weygers immigrated to America, got married, and began to work as an engineer in Seattle. Then something happened that would change his life forever. His wife died in childbirth. Like the brutal wars of the Crusades leading to the peace and prosperity of the Renaissance, the death of his wife caused Weygers to change the direction of his life and become an artist. Weygers became an apprentice to famous sculptor Lorado Taft at the Chicago Art Institute. After earning his tenure at the institute, Weygers moved to Europe to study anatomy and figure drawing at the Academy of Fine Arts in Holland. After
one year, Weygers felt he had gained a complete knowledge of human anatomy. Weygers then moved to Paris to study end-grain wood engraving under the famous engraver Paul Bornet. At the time, wood engraving was a lost art. Yet Weygers developed masterpieces of wood engraved artwork that revolutionized wood engraving as an art form. Weygers then moved to Florence, Italy, to learn stone carving and bronze casting from master artists. After completing his studies in Europe, Weygers returned to America. In California, Weygers built his own house, studio, and workshop, all out of recycled materials. In his studio, Weygers designed a flying saucer called the discopter. He sent his designs to the United States military. Top military leaders told Weygers that they were intrigued by the designs but were unable to fund such a project at the time. Weygers designed many other inventions; however, he spent most of his time perfecting his skills as a sculptor and blacksmith. To Weygers, the tools of a blacksmith symbolized independence, freedom, and refined focusing of the mind. As he grew old, Weygers focused more on philosophy and literature, and wrote several books. In 1989, Alexander Weygers died. However, his great masterpieces of art and literature will live on. Alexander Weygers was an expert at everything he did. He was an artist, writer, photographer, mechanical engineer, woodworker, sculptor, blacksmith, and inventor. Alexander Weygers is the epitome of the modern Renaissance man. The creative and intellectual masters of the Renaissance led mankind out of the dark ages and into the modern day. Now, men of the modern Renaissance, like Daniel Zanella and Alexander Weygers, are leading us ever onward into the future.