Leonardo da Vinci is recognized as the epitome of a true Renaissance man. His work as a painter, inventor, sculptor, military engineer, architect, and draftsman is remarkable. Leonardo studied the laws of science and nature because he was gifted with an inquisitive mind and brilliant intelligence. The paintings and drawings of Leonardo have inspired many engineers and artists over the years.
On April 15, 1452, Leonardo was born in a farmhouse outside Anchiano village in Tuscany, Italy. Leonardo was born out of wedlock to Florentine notary Ser Piero and Caterina. Leonardo was under his father’s custody, and he began living with his stepmother a few days after his birth. Leonardo moved to his father’s estate in Vinci at the age of five and started staying with his uncle and grandparents.
Leonardo received some formal education in mathematics, reading, and writing instructions. However, his artistic talent was evident from a young age, and he was able to do amazing artistic works. Leonardo started receiving lengthy training from Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence at the age of fourteen. He was taught a lot of technical skills such as carpentry, sculpting, metalworking, drawing, painting, and leather arts. Leonardo’s earliest dated work was a pen and ink drawing of a landscape in the Arno valley. The sketching was done in 1473.
Leonardo qualified to be a member of the master artist in Florence’s Guild of Saint Luke at the age of twenty. Leonardo, later on, began his own workshop, but he continued partnering with Andrea for five more years.
In 1475, Leonardo assisted Andrea in painting his” Baptism of Christ” building. Leonardo painted the young angel holding the robe of Jesus and part of the background.
Leonardo received his first independent commission for an altarpiece in 1478 after stopping working with Andrea. He would start living in a chapel that was in Florence’s Palazzo Vecchio. Three years later, while living in Florence, the Augustinian monk gave Leonardo the task of painting the Adoration of the Magi. Leonardo, however, left the city without completing both tasks.
This sketch represents Leonardo’s study of proportion and symmetry together with his desire to relate man with the natural world.
The Last Supper
Around 1495, Leonardo was commissioned by the then Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, to paint the last supper. The masterpiece took three years to finish, and it captures the events that occurred during the Passover. It shows Jesus gathered with the 12 disciples informing them that one of them could betray him.
Leonardo began painting what would become one of his popular paintings in 1503. Arguably Mona Lisa is arguably the world’s most famous painting in the world. The painting features an enigmatic smile of the woman in the half portrait. Mona Lisa derives a lot of inspiration from Leonardo’s sfumato technique.
Battle of Anghiari
Leonardo began working on the Battle of Anghiari in 1503. He was painting the mural for the council hall in the Palazzo Vecchio. Unfortunately, he abandoned the project because the mural began collapsing two years later before he could finish.
Leonardo created the Silver lyre and brought it as a peace gesture to Ludovico Sforza. In the same year, Leonardo used his inventive mind to sketch war machines such as the war chariots. The chariot had scythe blades mounted on both sides. Also, it had an armored tank that was driven by two men and a big crossbow that was operated by a small army of men.
Leonardo returned to Milan in 1506. He was joined by Milanese aristocrat Francesco Melzi, who became his closest companion during his last days. He did not do a lot of painting in Milan; instead, he dedicated his time to studying science.
Leonardo succumbed to a stroke on May 2, 1519, at the age of 67. His companion Melzi became the heir of the estate.