Leonardo da Vinci

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Anchiano, Italy
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Birthday
Birthplace
Anchiano, Italy

Leonardo di Serpentine Piero da Vinci is a polymath, architect, mathematician, composer, sculptor, engineer, inventor, anatomist, and writer who is well-known around the world. Da Vinci is regarded as a true Renaissance man with extensive knowledge in a variety of fields. He is admired today for his artistic achievements that shaped and characterized the art world. He is also admired for his numerous accomplishments in other key domains. He was one of the first anatomists to dissect a human body, and he contributed to the unraveling of sciences and the development of new art techniques. Da Vinci was a gifted musician as well. In terms of fine arts, such as ballet, intermezzo, and sonnet, he was unrivaled. He was noted for his innovative creativity and insatiable curiosity, and he embodied the Renaissance spirit. Few artists of his generation possessed the qualities and zeal that he possessed. His art is now valuable, and his science is recognized. Though he produced many works, only roughly 15 have survived, with the ‘Mona Lisa’ being the most precious.

The Formative Years

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was born in a farmhouse near the village of Anchiano in Tuscany, Italy, on April 15, 1452. Little is known about his early years, which have long been the topic of historical speculation. He was the son of a notary named Ser Piero and a peasant woman named Caterina, according to the evidence. From his father’s four legal marriages, he had 12 half-siblings.
He is thought to have spent his first five years of existence at Anchiano, and from 1457 onwards, he lived in Vinci with his uncle Francesco. He obtained formal Latin, mathematics, and geometry education.
He was strongly influenced by the strange and unusual events that occurred in his life as a child. Incidents like seeing a cave in the mountains where he imagined a huge monster dwelt. This became the inspiration for many of his later paintings and works.

The Verrocchio Workshop

At the age of 14, Leonardo da Vinci became an apprentice to Andrea del Verrocchio, one of the greatest painters of the time. At his workshop, he learnt to paint and sculpt, as well as the fundamentals of metallurgy, drafting, chemistry, botany, cartography, and carpentry.
Da Vinci selected art as his major job despite being a top student and a proficient all-rounder. He also committed to use what he learned in the workshop.
On a number of paintings, including ‘The Baptism of Christ,’ he collaborated with Verrocchio. Verrocchio was astounded by Da Vinci’s talent when painting this piece and promised never to use a paintbrush again because Da Vinci’s work was far superior, he claimed.
By 1472, Da Vinci had earned the title of master in the ‘Guild of Saint Luke,’ a group of painters and physicians. He was so devoted to Verrocchio that he forsook his father’s studio and proceeded to work with his master on a variety of projects.
‘Arno Valley,’ a sketch of the same-named valley done with the help of Verrocchio on August 5, 1473, was one of his early sketches. Paintings, sculptures, and architecture are all examples of this.
In the 1480s, he was commissioned to paint two major paintings, ‘Saint Jerome in the Wilderness’ and ‘The Adoration of the Magi,’ both of which were never completed.
He painted ‘The Madonna of the Carnation,’ an oil painting with a focal image of Young Mary holding a carnation in her left hand, from 1478 to 1480. The picture was originally thought to be by Verrocchio, but historians later acknowledged that it was one of Leonardo’s early works.
The Virgin of the Rocks’ and ‘Madonna of the Rocks’ were his next major works, both of which were similar in style but not in composition. The ‘Musée du Louvre’ has the first version, which dates from 1483 to 1486, while the ‘National Gallery of London’ has the second, which dates from 1495 to 1508, and is a darker variant. He was commissioned to make a gigantic horse statue for a patron, and he was given almost 70 tons of bronze to work with. Da Vinci, on the other hand, did not utilize bronze in the creation of the horse, which was completed in 1492 and eventually known as the ‘Gran Cavallo.’
The Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, commissioned Leonardo to paint ‘The Last Supper,’ and Leonardo worked on it from 1495 until 1498.
Leonardo was chosen as the military architect and engineer in 1499, and tasked with devising a plan to defend Venice against maritime attack.
He joined the service of Cesare Borgia, the son of Pope Alexander VI, in 1502 and made a map of Cesare’s city at a time when maps were few. At the same time, he drew out an Imola town design in order to gain the dignitary’s approval.
In the same year, he drew another map, this time of Chiana Valley, to provide his patron a better strategic position during the conflict. He made the map in conjunction with another project involving the construction of a dam in the same city for long-term water supply.
In 1503, Leonardo traveled to Florence and began work on a mural depicting ‘The Battle of Anghiari,’ which he completed in two years. Around the same time, he began work on his masterwork, the ‘Mona Lisa,’ also known as ‘La Gioconda.’
In 1506, he went to Milan, where he was joined by several of his famous pupils, including Bernardino Luini, Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio, and Marco d’Oggiono.

Journals, Scientific Findings, and Inventions

Both science and art were valued during the Renaissance period, and Leonardo was far ahead of his time. His scientific and engineering achievements were equally spectacular as his artistic achievements.
He had a more observable than theoretical approach to research. He formulated and prepared a series of skeletal figures using his Latin and mathematical knowledge, which aided him in his scientific creations. Many historians believe he was planning a series of treatises to be published on a range of themes, including a clear treatise on human anatomy, based on the contents of his journals.
He was a guy of many inventions who was intrigued with flight and had plans in 1502 to develop something resembling a helicopter. He even drew illustrations of musical instruments and hydraulic water pumps, the most of which were deemed unreasonable at the time and never materialized.
Throughout his life, he published a number of novels. One of his works, ‘Codex on the Flight of Birds’ (1505), was an 18-folio scientific palimpsest.
Leonardo’s formal human anatomy training began during his apprenticeship with Verrocchio. As a sculptor, his dexterity allowed him dissect human bodies with elegance. He created almost 240 precise illustrations and 13,000 words about anatomy.
He also drew a few illustrations of the human skeleton, muscles, sinews, circulatory system, and genitalia, as well as a few postscripts. He dissected and researched the structure of frogs, birds, and a few mammals, such as horses and cows, in addition to human anatomy.

Major Projects

‘The Virgin of the Rocks,’ as well as its variant ‘Madonna of the Rocks,’ were painted between 1483 and 1508 and are considered among his best works due to their intricate detail and style. The latter is on display in the ‘National Gallery of London,’ while the former is on display at the ‘Musée de Louvre.’
Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘The Vitruvian Man,’ created in 1490, displays two overlaid representations of a male person. The artwork was created in honor of an architect named Vitruvius and is known as the ‘Canon of Proportions.’ It illustrates the association of ideal human proportions with geometry, based on Vitruvius’ ancient orders of architecture, and is considered one of his most important scientific-mathematical contributions.
‘The Last Supper,’ painted in 1498 for the refectory of the convent of ‘Santa Maria delle Grazie’ in Milan, is one of his most famous works. Leonardo is said to have worked on this from dawn to dark, without taking a break. Because of its personality and design, the picture is regarded one of his finest. Despite the fact that the original painting is nearly destroyed, it is nevertheless one of his most widely reproduced pieces of art. The Mona Lisa is regarded as Da Vinci’s masterpiece. He was passionately committed to the job and never gave it to its commissioner, despite the fact that he was never pleased with it. ‘The Mona Lisa’ was his attempt at perfection, and he carried it with him wherever he went, keeping it with him until his death. The painting is now housed at the Louvre Museum and is considered a priceless national asset.
Leonardo da Vinci kept journals with almost 13,000 pages of scientific notes and drawings on natural philosophy, life, and travels. These diaries, which contain everything about Da Vinci’s life and achievements, are still kept in significant collections such as ‘Windsor Castle,’ ‘Louvre,’ ‘The British Library,’ and ‘Biblioteca Nacional de Espana,’ among others.

Personal Experiences

Leonardo is claimed to have learnt to play the lyre as a child and began to compose his own compositions. The Duke of Milan is also said to have favoured Leonardo’s musical performances over those of his own court musicians because of his unrivaled technique, talent, and competence.
Many of Leonardo Da Vinci’s acquaintances and benefactors were well-known in their disciplines, including Luca Pacioli, Cesare Borgia, Isabella d’Este, and Niccolo Machiavelli.
Leonardo grew up surrounded by forests, mountains, and rivers, and as a result, he was a naturalist. Many of his landscape paintings may have been influenced by this.
He was not drawn to women, yet he formed intimate bonds with his patrons, Cecilia Gallerani and Isabella and Beatrice Este.
For many, his sexuality was a source of speculation. Though the interest faded out in the 16th century, Sigmund Freud brought it back to life. He is said to have acquired ardent affections for his male students and friends, with most of these connections being sensual in nature. ‘John the Baptist’ and ‘Bacchus’ are two of his paintings that display this sexuality.
Leonardo and three other men were accused with sodomy in an event involving a well-known male prostitute, according to court records from 1476. One of the guys involved in the incident is also thought to be associated to the wealthy Medici family.
Early biographers regarded him as a man of immense personal appeal, friendliness, and charity. His contemporaries are also believed to have adored him. He died in a manor house in Clos Luce, where he had spent the last three years of his life.

Legacy

Leonardo Da Vinci’s legacy is defined by the breadth of his knowledge and his mastery of a wide number of fields, which set him apart from his peers. More than his paintings, it is his notebooks, which have documented everything he has gone through, that provide us with invaluable insights into his life and times.
Charles II had all of his drawings moved to England and housed in the ‘Royal Collection’ since the late 17th century. Only 15 of his paintings have survived and are scattered over the world.
Leonardo lavished his attention on his students, and many of them, like Francesco Melzi, Gian Giacomo Caprotti, and Marco d’Oggiono, received his artistic works and scientific documents after his death.
Many publications have been created in his honor, including ‘The Literary Works of Leonardo Da Vinci,’ ‘Leonardo Da Vinci,’ ‘Drawings of Leonardo Da Vinci,’ and ‘Masters in Art. Leonardo Da Vinci.’
Many films and historical documentaries have been made about this famous figure. ‘Da Vinci: The Lost Treasure,’ ‘The Life of Leonardo da Vinci,’ and ‘Great Artists with Tim Marlow- Leonardo’ are just a few of them.
The ‘Rotary Club of Florence’ founded the ‘Leonardo da Vinci Award’ in 1975. It is aimed at young people who are interested in the arts, technology, literature, or science.
The ‘Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts’ was founded to honor people who use art to send a positive message to mankind.

Trivia

This great Renaissance master was one of the first artists to utilize oil paints instead of egg tempera in his paintings. This great painter, sculptor, and polymath was such an outlier in terms of his choice to be a vegetarian for humanitarian reasons, especially given the time and location he lived in.
While writing, this great Renaissance polymath was ambidextrous. He did, however, paint with his right hand.
He wrote everything in mirror image format to prevent anyone from copying his work.
This well-known figure used to dig graveyards and steal bodies late at night in order to study human anatomy.
Mona Lisa’s lips took this painter ten years to complete.
The Mona Lisa is thought to be a portrait of Lisa Gherardini, a merchant’s wife.
Leonardo da Vinci is thought to have been a prolific draftsman, as he kept extensive notebooks of all his paintings in the form of little sketches and drawings.