Leonardo Da Vinci: Biography

Leonardo Da Vinci, a biography of the quintessential Renaissance man. A creative genius who is still held in high regard and fascination today.

Still talked about and revered today, Leonardo Da Vinci is the most well known of The Old Masters of the Renaissance period in Europe, which is marked from early 14th to the late 16th century.

Renaissance, meaning "rebirth" refers to the revival of the artistic styles of classical antiquity of Rome, especially in Italy. The term "High Renaissance" denotes the brief period of 1490's to 1520's and was created by only a handful of artists, including Leonardo Da Vinci, Michelangelo, Titian, Raphael and Donato Bramante. Leonardo is at the forefront of these artists due to his broad studies of art, science, and natural phenomena.

Leonardo followed the principal of study by observance of natural occurances. His art works also return to the classical style of pictorial representation or architectural composition with a balance achieved as a matter of intuition. No one element in the compositions takes importance over another: all achieve harmony together. Some of Leonardo's paintings at this time include "The Last Supper", Madonna of the Rocks", and the Mona Lisa".

Up until the 20th century Leonardo's reputation was built on his art and art theory. Not until his notes became widely dispersed did he become known for his impressive range which included science, and his inventions.

Born April 15th, 1452 an illegitimate son of a Florence, Itlay notary, Piero da Vinci, and a young woman named Caterina in a small town of Vinci, Leonardo had artistic talent at a young age, he was apprenticed to Andrea Verrocchio in 1469, a leading Renaissance master of that time. Leonardo stayed and studied at the progressive Florence workshop where he aquired a varitey of skills in the arts. He became a member of the painters' guild in 1472 and by 1478 he was commissioned to paint an altarpiece for the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. By 1482 Leonardo left Florence for Milan and worked for Duke Lodovico Sforza for the next 18 years. He was the court artist, and worked on many projects that saw him branch out into civil and military engineering, anatomy, mathematics, physics, and biology. In 1499, when Leonardo's patron along with the town of Florence fell under French rule during a time France was expanding its presence into Italy, Da Vinci left to seek work elsewhere.

Over the course of the next several years traveling between Florence and central Italy Leonardo worked as a map maker and civil engineer for Cesare Borgia a prince of Spain who was granted the title duke by the French king Louis X11. Finally settled back in Florence around 1503 Leonardo completed several of his famous works during this period which included his most famous the "Mona Lisa", and others while in residence. He also continued his studies of anatomy and biology, even going as far as dissecting human cadavers to study and take sketches of the different body parts and functions.

In 1506 he was invited by the French government to come to Milan and work there. Which he did, only returning one more time to visit Florence during the seven years he stayed in

Milan. Always fascinated with the stuctural way in which things worked, he started to devote more time to making and keeping his notes than to his art, and sculpturing.

In 1516 Leonardo left Italy and became architectural advisor to King Francis 1 of France. Leonardo died May 2, 1519 at age 67.

Leonardo, in keeping his notes, did write them in script from right to left. You can hold them up to a mirror and read them. He kept meticulous notes on every field of study conducted by him including ovservations of birds in flight, other animals, and most certainly humans. The flow of water, study of plants, and the principal functioning of light. Also included in his notes or manuscripts was how to grind lenses, the construction of canals, but the most interesting are the sketches he made of things not dreamed of in his time. Sketches that look like the modern

hang-gliders of the 20th century, and sketches of what we would recognize as our helicopters of today. Crude but yet with artistic flair and structural integrity along with the sheer inventivness of the drawings shows how creative Leonardo was.

It's amazing the amount of work Leonardo detailed in his sketches. Renderings of human body parts, and muscles, including the skull, a womb and fetus that are all correct except in a few details. His contributions during his lifetime are incalcuable, and we still find him a fascinationg personality, so much so that his character ends up often times in our movies and television viewing.

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