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Leonardo da Vinci was a leading artist and intellectual of the Italian Renaissance who's known for his enduring works "The Last Supper" and "Mona Lisa."
Leonardo da Vinci - Legacy (4:55)
Watch a short video about Leonardo da Vinci and learn about the many ideas and creations that made by this brilliant artist.
Leonardo da Vinci began apprenticing under the artist Verrocchio. His best-known works are two of the most famous paintings of all time, the "Mona Lisa" and "The Last Supper."
In the year, 1503 Leonardo da Vinci returned to Florence and began a portrait that would become one of the most famous works of art of all time.
While Leonardo da Vinci is well-remembered for his paintings, it was perhaps his notebooks that have the greatest impact on the modern world.
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Born on April 15, 1452, in Vinci, Italy, Leonardo da Vinci was concerned with the laws of science and nature, which greatly informed his work as a painter, sculptor, inventor and draftsmen. His ideas and body of work—which includes "Virgin of the Rocks," "The Last Supper," "Leda and the Swan" and "Mona Lisa"—have influenced countless artists and made da Vinci a leading light of the Italian Renaissance.
"Iron rusts from disuse, stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind."
"Nothing is hidden beneath the sun."
"Obstacles cannot bend me. Every obstacle yields to effort."
"We make our life by the death of others."
"Necessity is the mistress and guardian of nature."
"One ought not to desire the impossible."
"He who neglects to punish evil sanctions the doing thereof."
"Darkness is the absence of light. Shadow is the diminution of light."
"The painter who draws by practice and judgment of the eye without the use of reason, is like the mirror that reproduces within itself all the objects which are set opposite to it without knowledge of the same."
"He who does not value life does not deserve it."
"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."
"Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence."
Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452, in Vinci, Italy. Born out of wedlock, the love child of a respected notary and a young peasant woman, he was raised by his father, Ser Piero, and his stepmothers. At the age of 14, da Vinci began apprenticing with the artist Verrocchio. For six years, he learned a wide breadth of technical skills, including metalworking, leather arts, carpentry, drawing and sculpting. By the age of 20, he had qualified as a master artist in the Guild of Saint Luke and established his own workshop.
Florentine court records show that da Vinci was charged with and acquitted of sodomy at the age of 22, and for two years, his whereabouts went entirely undocumented.
In 1482, Lorenzo de' Medici, a man from a prominent Italian family, commissioned da Vinci to create a silver lyre and bring it to Ludovico il Moro, the Duke of Milan, as a gesture of peace. Da Vinci did so and then wrote Ludovico a letter describing how his engineering and artistic talents would be of great service to Ludovico's court. His letter successfully endeared him to Ludovico, and from 1482 until 1499, Leonardo was commissioned to work on a great many projects. It was during this time that da Vinci painted "The Last Supper."
Da Vinci's most well-known painting, and arguably the most famous painting in the world, the "Mona Lisa," was a privately commissioned work and was completed sometime between 1505 and 1507. Of the painting's wide appeal, James Beck, an art historian at Columbia University, once explained, "It is the inherent spirituality of the human creature that Leonardo was able to ingenuine to the picture that raises the human figure to some kind of majesty."
It's been said that the Mona Lisa had jaundice, that she was a pregnant woman and that she wasn't actually a woman at all, but a man in drag. Based on accounts from an early biographer, however, the "Mona Lisa" is a picture of Lisa Gioconda, the real-life wife of a merchant, but that's far from certain. For da Vinci, the "Mona Lisa" was forever a work in progress, as it was his attempt at perfection. The painting was never delivered to its commissioner; da Vinci kept it with him until the end of his life. Today, the "Mona Lisa" hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, secured behind bulletproof glass, and is regarded as a priceless national treasure.
Da Vinci has been called a genius and the archetypal Renaissance man. His talents in arguably extended far beyond his artistic works. Like many leaders of Renaissance humanism, he did not see a divide between science and art.
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