Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci
1452 - 1519

Video Biography

La vita di Leonardo Da Vinci

The Life of Leonardo da Vinci 1972
is a biography on film produced by Radiotelevisione Italiana.
Originally shown on PBS as a miniseries.
Phillipe Leroy as Leonardo gives insight into the enigma that
was this Renaissance giant.
Dubbed in English

Place of Birth: Vinci, Tuscany
Where da Vinci Worked: Florence; Milan; Amboise, France
Type of Art: Oil painting, Sculpture, Drawing, Tempera
Most Famous Artworks: Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, Vitruvian Man

Biography of Leonardo da Vinci

Page Symbol for Artist pagesLeonardo da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452. His beginning was less than desirable; he was the illegitimate son of a peasant woman, Caterina, and a local notary, Piero. He was named according to the practice of the time, which included reference to his parentage and place of birth. His full birth name was Leonardo di Ser Piero da Vinci.

Leonardo was to grow up in Florence with his father. His talent was apparent as a young boy, and so his father was to introduce Leonardo and his work to a master of the day, Andrea del Verrocchio. At the young age of 14, Leonardo was apprenticed to Verrocchio. His talent and intellect proved him to be Verrocchio's greatest apprentice.

Da Vinci was later to become an independent artist in Florence, but the year 1476 would bring him great difficulty and torment. An anonymous person had accused Leonardo, and three other men, of the crime of ****** with a 17-year-old model. Leonardo was to spend two months in prison until finally released, as the charges could not be substantiated by a single witness.

There are some that theorize that Leonardo was a homosexual, and probably this is because he was not known to have married or had a relationship with a woman. He did keep company with men and boys, but what can we actually assume from this over 500 years later?

Military conflicts of the late 1400s led Leonardo to change employers and move from Florence to Milan and back, where he was to enter the employ of Cesare Borgia. He would serve as a military architect and engineer.

Leonardo was to move to Rome in 1513, and it was here that he met King Francis I of France, and eventually entered his employ. The final move of Leonardo's life was to France in 1516, where he lived until his death on May 2, 1519. He is buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert in the castle of Amboise.

The Tomb of Leonardo da Vinci at Amboise, France

Artwork of Leonardo da Vinci
(to see an enlarged version of this artwork, just click on the picture!)

Leonardo da Vinci's "Annunciation to the Virgin"
Annunciation to the Virgin

One of da Vinci's earlier works that he painted when he was an apprentice in the art workshop of Renaissance master Andrea del Verrocchio.

Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper"
The Last Supper

This masterpiece was painted in 1498 in the dining hall of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. Not a true fresco, as it was done on a dry wall and not on wet plaster. This variation in technique accounts for its deterioration and need for restoration...last completed in 1999.

Leonardo da Vinci's Madonna of the Rocks"
Madonna of the Rocks

Painted in 1483 after da Vinci moved to Milan.

Leonardo da Vinci's "The Mona Lisa"
The Mona Lisa

This portrait was painted between 1503 - 1506. Although this portrait has become synonymous with the name of da Vinci, it was not as recognised in da Vinci's time. Thought to be a portrait of Lisa del Giocondo, the wife of a Florentine merchant, there is speculation as to why it was never presented to a patron. Da Vinci sold this portrait to King Francis I of France prior to Leonardo's death. It remains in France to this day, at the Louvre in Paris.

Leonardo da Vinci's portrait of Ginevra de Benci
Portrait of Ginevra de' Benci

Da Vinci painted this portrait in 1473 when he was 21. The painting is thought to have been commissioned to commemorate the marriage of a Florentine banker's daughter.

Leonardo da Vinci's "The Madonna With the Yarnwinder"
Madonna With The Yarnwinder

This painting was thought to have been commissioned by Florimund Robertet, a secretary of state for King Louis XII of France, in 1501. This masterpiece was in the possession of the Duke of Buccleuch in Scotland. Unfortunately, it was stolen in 2003.

Leonardo da Vinci's "St. John the Baptist"
St. John The Baptist

Leonardo painted this picture in 1514. Interestingly, he used his lifelong companion and apprentice, Salai, as the model for this painting. This masterpiece is now located in the Louvre, along with the Mona Lisa. The smiles of the two paintings have been noted for their similarity.

Leonardo da Vinci's "Madonna With a Flower (Benois Madonna)
Madonna With A Flower (Benois Madonna)

This is thought to be da Vinci's first completed painting from c.1478. There are still some people who dispute whether it is a true da Vinci or not.
Resources: Leonardo-Da-Vinci-Biography.com

Page symbol for Artist pagesWhere da Vinci's Artwork is Displayed

You can find some of Leonardo's artwork in the following museums and churches:

- Louvre, Paris (Mona Lisa, etc.)
- National Gallery, London
- Royal Library and Print Room, Windsor Castle, England
- Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia
- Uffizi Gallery, Florence
- Accademia, Venice (The Vitruvian Man)
- Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy (The Last Supper)
- National Gallery, Washington DC (Ginevra de' Benci)
- Czartoryski Museum, Cracow, Poland (Lady with an Ermine)

Page symbol for Artist pagesTrivia About Leonardo da Vinci:

- Leonardo was very protective, even paranoid, about his designs. In order to prevent his ideas from being stolen or abused, he would often leave out things in his notes, or he would deliberately put in misinformation.

- Another technique Leonardo used to protect his designs and ideas was in how he wrote his notes. He would use a mirrored form of left-handed writing.

- Another interest of da Vinci's was cartography, that is, mapmaking. He once made a map of the town of Imola, Italy. This town was a stronghold of Cesare Borgia. The unique feature of this map is that it is an aerial view. Leonardo also had a passion for flight, so perhaps this explains why he would use an aerial perspective in some of his maps.

Leonardo da Vinci, map of Imola, Italy
Map of Imola, Italy

- Leonardo was fascinated with the human body and devoted much study to its proportions. He dissected cadavers to further this study. In doing so, he broke many religious laws that could have put him at risk of death for necromancy -- that is, sorcery. The pinnacle of his anatomical research is his drawing entitled:

The Vitruvian Man
Leonardo da Vinci's "The Vitruvian Man"

- Leonardo was, if nothing else, a dreamer and had many passions. He would become known as an inventor as much as an artist. He would draw many prototypes for subjects that interested him. His passion for the possibility of flight led him to draw the following prototypes:

A Glider
Leonardo da Vinci's drawing of a "glider"

A Helicopter
Leonardo da Vinci's drawing of a "helicopter"

A Parachute
Leonardo da Vinci's drawing of a "parachute"

- Da Vinci is also known for mathematics, but not in the numerical sense. He would express "math" through his art and his drawings. This is obvious in his drawing:

Divina Proportione
Leonardo da Vinci's drawing "Divina Proportione"

- Leonardo was a vegetarian for part of his life.

- It is said that as a young man, Leonardo would purchase caged birds for the sole purpose of setting them free.

- His fascination with science and engineering is attested to by the voluminous number of pages in his many notebooks; there are over 13,000 pages in all.

Da Vinci Art of the Day: