Leonardo Da Vinci was born in the town of Vinci, Italy, in 1452 on April 15, a natural child of ser Piero. Ser Piero was a successful government official, and his mother, Caterina, a peasant girl in service with the family.
Leonardo spent his early years on his family farm. Free to explore in the fields and streams, he grew to love the outdoors and he had a keen interest in how things worked. He was always full of questions and wonderment. By 1469Leonardo had moved with his father to Florence, where the young man was apprenticed to the painter and sculptor, Andrea del Verrocchio. He learned the techniques of drawing, painting, and sculpting. In the seven years or more Leonardo spent in Verrocchio’s studio he was especially inspired by his teacher’s imaginative sculpture. 1472 listed Leonardo as a master of the painter’s guild. A few years later he painted such a beautiful angel that Verrocchio, his master, is said to have, given up painting for good. (TheNew Book of Knowledge page 153. L volume 11, 1967, Grolier Incorporated, NewYork, New York).
After this Leonardos skill as a painter must have been known, because he painted an altarpiece, The Adoration of Kings, for the monks of Saint Donate of scope to in 1478. About 1482, Leonardo left Florence to enter the house of Lodovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. He performed a variety of services there. He painted court portraits, supervised pageants, designed costumes, built machines of war, and even installed control heating in the palace. He also supposedly played the lyre and sang to entertain the Duke and his friends.
While in Milan, Leonardo worked on his magnificent painting, The Last Supper, in 1495. Before that, in 1492, he designed costumes (as I mentioned earlier) for the wedding of Ludovico il Moro and Beatrice dEste. Also in that time frame, there was the death of Lorenzo the Magnificent, and Columbus sails to the NewWorld. He also painted in that time a portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, Ludovicosmistress, a woman of wit and beauty, who for many years shone at the Milanese court. The severe hairstyle emphasizes the perfection of her face and striking eyes. The white ermine she holds is a symbol of purity; its name in Greek suggests her name.
One of Leonardo’s greatest interests was the study of the human body. At first, like other artists of the 15th century, he studied the outward appearance of the body. Then he became fascinated with its inner structure and dissected corpses to find out how the body was put together. Perhaps the most stunning drawings in Leonardos notebooks are those that show his careful study of autonomy. He did not approach anatomy as an artist, he approached anatomy as a scientist. (Leonardo Da Vinci Diane Stanley. Pg.18., 1996, WilliamMorrow and Company, Incorporated. New York, New York.) His studies of the heart in particular were very advanced. Leonardo looked at plants as closely as he looked at men and animals, and he made many discoveries about plant growth.
Soon after he arrived in Milan, Leonardo began to write down things that interested him. His notebooks show the great variety and originality of his scientific observations. He illustrated his theories with very beautiful and exact drawings. By studying his drawings of machines, twentieth-century engineers, with modern materials, have been able to build models that worked perfectly. The notebooks are hard to read because he used mirror writing. He did not want his ideas to be stolen.
Leonardos life in the court of Milan was suddenly interrupted in 1499 by the invasion of the French Army. Leonardos patron, Lodovico, was taken prisoner, and Leonardo fled to Venice. He left with the mathematician, Luca Pacioli. He was a Franciscan Friar and a man of science. He knew Leonardo in Milan and awakened his interests in mathematics. Leonardo stayed at Vaprio, in Mantua, where he makes two portraits of Isabella dEste. In March 1500, about a year later, he went back o Florence, still an active center of art. He was given the commission to paint an altarpiece for the church of the Annunziata. When his full-scale drawing of the Virgin and Child with St. Anne was placed on public view, people filed by for two days and admired it enthusiastically.
In 1502, Leonardo briefly served Prince Cesare Borgia in Rome as a military engineer and architect. This is the period of time where he studied fortification Systems and War Machines. He designed the catapult, cannon foundry, large crossbow, and a design for a gun with an array of horizontal barrels. In 1503 he returned to Florence, where he spent a few very productive years. For example, he painted the Mona Lisa in 1503, and the FlorentineRepublic commissioned him to paint the Battle of Anghiari in the great hall also in the year of 1503, the Palazzo Vecchio(1503). In 1504 he begins work on the Battle of Anghiari, In this particular painting, Leonardo experimented with wax paint. The work began to melt even before he finished it. Now Leonardo and Michelangelo were enemies but it is still said that Michelangelo wept and the city council was plunged to gloom. (The New Book of Knowledge page155. L volume 11, 1967, Grolier Incorporated, New York, New York). Leonardo was disappointed, but as a scientist, he knew that to achieve success a man must expect some experiments to fail. In the year of 1504, Michelangelo completed his David and Raphael moved to Florence and was deeply influenced by Leonardoswork.
In the year of 1508, Leonardo leaves Florence and returns to Milan and devotes himself to geology and autonomy. In Rome, Michelangelo is commissioned to paint the Sistine Ceiling. In 1513 Leonardo was invited to Rome by GiulianodeMedici, a brother of Pope Leo the fifth. There he continued his experiments and he remained there for three years, while pursues mathematical and scientific studies. Leonardo drew up the plans to drain the Pontine marshes, in the year of1514. Also in that same year the master architect, the death of Bramante and Raphael succeeds him as the architect of St, Peter’. Sometime in 1516 Leonardoleft Italy to become chief painter and engineer to the King of France. KingFrancis first gave Leonardo a chateau near Amboise, in the place of Cloux, where he was free to carry on his experiments. In the year of 1518, he designed the stage sets for the wedding of Lorenzo de Medici and a niece of the FrenchKing then he takes part in celebrations for the Dauphins baptism.
While in France, Leonardo became paralyzed. He had to stop painting, but his mind remained active. During his last years, he received countless visitors, who listened with awe to the master’s brilliant ideas about art and science. In the year of 1529, Charles V was elected Holy Roman Emperor. A sick man Leonardomakes his will on April twenty-third, naming his pupil, his painter friend Francesco Meli as executor. Renaissance men set impossibly high goals for themselves. Leonardo Da Vinci, the man who came closest to reaching all of those goals, died in his French chateau on May second, 1519.
Perhaps no one in history achieved so much in so many different fields as Leonardo Da Vinci. An outstanding painter, sculptor, and architect, he also designed the diving bell and tank, and though they could not be built with the materials of the time – flying machines like the helicopter. He made important discoveries about the structure of the human body.
I admire Leonardo in many ways and I am glad I chose him as my research project I have learned many things.
- Bramly, Serge. Discovering the life of Leonardo Da Vinci. New York, New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 19912.
- Stanley, Diane. Leonardo Da Vinci. New York, New York: William Morrow and Company Inc., 19963.
- Bacci, Mina. Leonardo. Milan, ItalyFabbri Editori, 19784.
- Wasserman, Jack. Leonardo Da Vinci. New York, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 19845.
- Fleming, William. Arts; Ideas. Third Edition, pgs245-246, 260-262,287, 157-258. New York, New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston Inc.19936.
- Hartt, Frederick. Art. Fourth Edition, pgs 618, 688-670, 714, 749, 903, 918New York, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 19937. Honour, Hugh.
- Fleming, John., The Visual Arts: A History Third edition, pgs 402, 404, 413-419, 441New York, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 19828.