Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance polymath, painter, scuptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematican, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartograhper, botanist, and writer. Leonardo has often been described has the archetype of the Renaissance Man, a man of ‘unquichable curiosity’ and ‘feverishly inventine imagination.’ along with this he bears the title of one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversity talented person to have ever lived. But how did this all come to be?

Leonardo was born out of wetlock to Piero da Vinci on the date of April 15, 1452. In the lower valley of The Arno River in the territory of teh Medici-ruled Republic of Florence. Being bore of wetlock Leonardo had no surname. ‘da Vinci’ simple means ‘of Vinci’ His full birth name ‘Lionardo di ser Piero da Vinci.’ meaning ‘Leonardo son of Messer Piero from Vinci.’. Little is known about his early life, however it is known that for the first five years of his life, he spent them with his mother. Then in 1475 he lived in the household of his father. Being bore of wetlock Leonardo received an informal education in Latin, geomerty and mathematics. Unforturly most of Leonardo’s early life has fallen to historical conjecture.

However in 1466, at the age of fourteen Leonardo was apprenticed to teh artist Andrea di Cione more commonly known has Verrocchio, whose workshop was ‘one of the finest’ in Florence. Here Leonardo would have been exposed to both theoretical training and a vast range of technical skills. Including drafting, chemistry, metallurgy, metal working, plaster casting, leather working, mechancis and carpentry as well as atristist skills of drawing, painting, sculpting and modeling. After gasping all these skills, in 1472 Leonardo qualified as a master in hte Guild of St. Luke. Leonardo’s earliest known dated work is a drawing in pen and ink of the Arno valley, drawn August 5, 1473. Three years later in 1476, Leonardo and three other men were charged with sodomy and acquitted. From that date to 1478 there is no record of his work or even his whereabouts.

In 1478 he left Verroccio’s studio and was no longer part of his father’s household. In January 1478, he received the first of two commissions: to paint an altarpiece for the Chapel of St. Bernard in the Palazzo Veccio and in March 1482, The Adoration of The Magi for the Monks of San Donato a Scopeto. Neither of the commissions were completed. In 1482 Leonardo, who according to Vasari was a most talented musician, created a sliver lyre in the shape of a horse’s head. Lorenzo de’ Medici sent Leonardo to Milan (Which interupted his second commission.) bearing the lyre as a gift, to secure peace with Ludorico il Maro, Duke of Milan. At this time Leonard wrote an often qouted letter describing the many marvellous and diverse things that he could achieve in the field of engineering and in the last line of the letter informed him that he could also paint.

Leonardo then worked in Milan from 1482 to 1499. He was commissioned to paint the ‘Virgin of the Rocks’ for Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception and the ‘Last Supper’ for the monesty of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Leonardo was employed for many different projects for Ludovico, including the preparation of floats and pagents for special occasions, designs for a dome for Milan Catherdal and a model for a huge equestrian monument to Franceso Sforza, Ludovico’s prodecessor. The monument remained unfinished for several years, which was now common for Leonardo. In 1492 the clay model of the horse was completed. Leonardo began making detail plans for casting it however in November 1494, Ludovico gave the bronze (which was set aside for the horse) to be used for cannons to defend the city from invasion by Charles VIII. In 1499 Ludovico Sforza was overthrown. Leonardo with his assiant Salai and friend, the matematician Lucus Pacioli, fled from Milan for Venice. Where Leonardo was employed has a military architect and engneer devising methods to defend the city from naval attacks.

Leonardo then returned to Florence. He and his household were guest of the Servite monks at the monastery of Santissima Annunziata and was provided with a workshop there. Where Leonardo created the cartoon of ‘The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist.’ In Cesena two years later Leonardo entered the service of Cesane Borgia, the son of Pope Alexander VI, acting has a military architect and engineer and traveling throughout Italty with his parton. Leonardo later returned to Florence where he rejoined the Guild of St. Luke on October 18, 1503. He spent two years designing and painting a mural of The Battle of Anghiori for the Signoria. In 1506 Leonardo returned to Milan. Many of his most prminet pupils or followers in painting either knew or worked with him in Milan. However he did not stay in Milan for long. His father died in 1504 and in 1507 he was back in Florence trying to sort out problems with his brothers about his father’s estate. By 1508 Leonardo was back in Milan living in his own house.

From September 1513 to 1516 Leonardo spent much of hsi time living in the Bedluder in the Vaction in Rome. In October 1515, Francis I of France recaptured Milan. On December 19, Leonardo was present at a meeting of Francis I of France and Pope Leo X. Leonardo was commissioned to make for Francis a mechanical lion that could walk forward. In 1516 he entered Francis service, being given the use of the manor Clos Luce. It was here where he spent the last three years of his life, accompained by his friend and apprentice Count Francesco Melzi. Leonardo died at Clos Luce on May 2, 1519. In accordance to his will, sixty beggers followed his casket. He was buried at the Chapel of Saint Hubert.

Some 20 years after Leonardo’s death, Francis was reported by the goldsmith and sculptor, Benevenuto Cellini as saying: ‘There had never been another man born in the world who knew as much as Leonardo, not so much about painting, sculpture and architecture, as that he was a very great philosopher.’

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