Leonardo da Vinci is an esteemed and indeed, the most influential figure of the Italian Renaissance. He was an Italian painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect, and engineer who revolutionized the Renaissance era with his scientific explorations, artistic genius and mechanical innovations. Da Vinci is best known for his widely acclaimed and remarkable works, The Last Supper and The Mona Lisa. His works continue to inspire and fascinate generations to this date.
Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452, in Anchiano, Florence, Italy. He was the illegitimate child of a Florentine noble and landlord, Ser Piero, and a young peasant woman, Caterina. Leonardo was taken away from his mother, who later married an artisan, and he grew up as a legitimate child on his father’s family’s estate. Leonardo received a rigorous training and education, making him well-versed and efficient in reading, writing, languages and arithmetic. At the age of 15, he became the apprentice of the renowned artist Andrea del Verrocchio, who gave Leonardo training in painting, metalworking, leather arts, carpentry, drawing, sculpturing, as well as, mechanical and technical arts. Soon, Leonardo began working at the workshop of famous artist Antonio Pollaiuolo.
In 1472, Leonardo was admitted to the painters’ guild of Florence, however, he chose to remain in Verrocchio’s workshop for another five years. At the age of 20, Leonardo was established as a master artist in the Guild of Saint Luke. He opened his own practice in Florence, and began making iconic and commendable designs which were ahead of their times in terms of their technical interpretation and mechanical foresight, for example, water pumps, mechanical apparatus and military weapons among many other innovative designs.
In 1482, Lorenzo de’ Medici commissioned Leonardo to create a silver lyre, that was to be presented to the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro, as a token of peace. Ludovico became so impressed and pleased by Da Vinci’s talent, that Leonardo was invited to his court and from 1482 to 1499, Leonardo was commissioned on several projects for the Duke, including the famous and iconic, “The Last Supper”. In 1505, Da Vinci began developing his magnum opus, indeed his most praised, and widely renowned painting, which is also said to be the most famous painting in the world, “The Mona Lisa”, which was completed in 1507.
Da Vinci’s knowledge and talent transcend the barriers of his artistic work. According to him, there was no divide between art and science. Da Vinci is accredited for the contribution of 13,000 pages of notes and drawings, which include designs for plant studies, war machinery, anatomy, architecture and flying machines 400 years before the Wright brothers. Da Vinci’s theories were not experimented by him, however, they provided significant research and detail in his drawings, for example, his drawings of a human fetus in a uterus, the human heart, the vascular system, sex organs, and various other bone and muscular structures are the first biological explanations we have about the human body.
His knowledge covered a diverse range of subject matters and explored the scientific and artistic natures of each element, therefore, Da Vinci is termed as the “archetypal Renaissance man”. Leonardo da Vinci passed away on May 2, 1519, in Amboise, France.