“There had never been another man born in the world who knew as much as Leonardo, not so much about painting, sculpture and architecture, as that he was a very great philosopher.”
Renaissance men can easily be distinguished from other men by their numerous talents and their impeccable success. The most talented Renaissance Man to ever live was Leonardo Da Vinci. He was the model for all Renaissance Men. Leonardo is most known for his paintings, however that was not all he excelled at, Leonardo had it both ways. He was artistic and scientific. Throughout this research, we’re going to discover further about Leonardo’s life, work, and his influence.
Born on April 15, 1452, Leonardo was an Italian painter, sculptor, scientist, architect, inventor, writer, etc. To summarize it, Leonardo was a polymath. He was the illegitimate son of a wealthy man known as Messer Piero Fruosino di Antonio da Vinci and a peasant woman named Caterina.
Not much is known about Leonardo’s early life. He spent his first five years living with his mother in Vinci then he moved and lived with his father, grandparents, and uncle in Vinci as well. His early education was easy, it included Latin, Geometry, and Mathematics, however, Leonardo did not show any signs of the intelligence he turned out to have. His father divorced and re-married several times while he was young and he eventually had male heirs other than Leonardo. During his early life living with his father, Leonardo slowly began to discover his talents as he painted a couple of incidents that arose his curiosity. These paintings brought his father some profit as they were sold to other people.
Leonardo began to discover his artistic talents further and people began to notice them as well. At the age of fourteen, he was a trainee in Verrochio’s workshop, one of the best workshops in Florence. In his time working there, he painted paintings with Verrochio, one being The Baptism of Christ and he developed a very close relationship with him. Verrochio was amazed by Leonardo’s outstanding paintings and work.
At the age of twenty, Leonardo was assigned the master of Guild of St. Luke. As his father was amazed with his son’s work, he set up a workshop just for Leonardo. However, the close relationship Leonardo had established with Verrochio made him still collaborate and work with him.
Leonardo’s professional life was one filled with success, knowledge, and creativity. After completing his work with Verrochio, he settled in Milan in 1482. While in Milan, he painted his famous painting known as “The Last Supper.” Moreover, he began his pursuit of being an architect and an engineer in 1500 where he became the student of Cesare Borgia in Florence. He also decorated the Sala del Consiglio with Michelangelo. His most famous work of art, the Mona Lisa (now located at the Louvre, Paris), was completed in 1504. He was employed by several wealthy men. A small number of his paintings still live today. Some of his notebooks that contain his scientific drawings and notes still exist today.
Leonardo met his death on May 2nd, 1519. Some paintings and legends tell the story of how Francis I, a close friend of his, held his head in his arms as he died. However, that is not known as a true fact. Francesco Melzi, Leonardo’s favorite assistant and pupil, was the heir of Leo’s money, tools, and paintings. He also inherited his other pupil Salai, some of his servants, and his brothers.
From the days of the Renaissance until now, everyone has taken such an interest in the paintings of Leonardo. There are several qualities that distinguish Leonardo’s paintings and work from other pieces of art. Leonardo used special and unique ways of layering the paint. Also, his extensive knowledge of the human body and anatomy allowed him to paint the human body and portraits in detail. His knowledge of light also aids in his perfect details. Leonardo also had a great interest in the way humans express their feelings through facial expressions, this was shown in his paintings. Some of his most famous works like the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, and the Virgin of the Rocks combine all of these qualities.
In his early life, Leonardo began with the painting known as the Baptism of Christ which he painted while working at the workshop of Verrocchio. While working at the workshop, he painted two more paintings, one small and one much larger. Both paintings were about the Virgin Mary. The smaller painting symbolizes the submissiveness of Mary to God while the larger painting shows a young Mary accepting the role given to her as the Mother with confidence.
1480s: In the 1480s, Leonardo received three important works. Two of them were not completed while the third took too long to finish that it was subject to long arguments. One of the unfinished paintings is known to symbolize a depressing phase of Leo’s life, it’s known as St. Jerome in the Wilderness. Another unfinished masterpiece is known as the Adoration of the Magi. It was a very complex masterpiece that required many studies by Leo but he ended up abandoning it to go off to Milan. The third important painting is known as the Virgin of the Rocks. The painting was supposed to be done by Leo with the help of the de Predis brothers. It was supposed to fill a large altarpiece which was already built. The large yet not as complex painting was finished successfully.
1490s: The most famous painting of this period of time in The Last Supper. This was a painting that meant a lot to Da Vinci and it troubled him. It depicts the meal that Jesus had with his disciples before his death when he said that one of them will betray him. Sometimes, Leo would paint for days without even eating, while at other times, he would not paint for days. He was obviously troubled by the betrayal over many issues surrounding this painting. The painting was described as a masterpiece. However, because it got damaged quickly, some critics disagreed. Leonardo hadn’t used his normal painting techniques while painting this work of art. Until today though, The Last Supper is a very appreciated and reproduced work of art.
1500s: Finally came the era where Leonardo painted the most famous painting in the world, the Mona Lisa. The fame of this painting lies in her smile. There have been many arguments about the reason behind her mysterious smile and many compliments about the beauty and perfection of it. Many other details and characteristics are found in this painting make it so special like the colors and the technique of painting.
Drawings: Leonardo was known to be an even better draftsman than he was a painter. He had a small journal where he would draw everything that took his attention. Many of the drawings would include studies he conducted for future paintings. One of his most famous drawings is the Vitruvian Man where he studied the proportions of the human body.