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Leonardo da Vinci

1452-1519

 

Leonardo was born in Vinci, Italy on April 15th, 1452, the illegitimate son of a young notary.  Leonardo grew up in an environment rich with scholarly texts and art, provided by his father, who himself taught Leonardo how to paint,  and by his father's family.  When he was in his late teens, Leonardo was sent to Florence to be an apprentice in the studio of famous renaissance sculptor Andrea del Verrocchio, where he met with other Renaissance artists Botticelli and Ghirlandaio, and continued honing his skills, which were proving to be greater than his teacher's...

Leonardo's first moment in the sun came when Verroccio asked him to help paint an angel in his "Baptism of Christ" piece.  Leonardo so impressed his master that Verrochio himself decided he would never paint again.  Leonardo continued working with Verrochio for a few years, and then the two parted ways.

Leonardo went on to be in the service of the Duke Ludovico Sforza of Milan, where he remained for 16 years.  Leonardo didn't only paint for the Duke, but he also designed machinery, weapons, and a fair bit of architecture.  Science and art were merged in an unending output of impressive works and studies.  Leonardo's designs were so ahead of their time, that they even included plans for various assault vehicles, flying machines, and even a submarine. 

Duke Sforza died shortly after the completion of one of Leonardo's most famous work, The Last Supper; Leonardo who had now lost his patron, and decided to leave Milan.  He eventually returned to Florence after having traveled, lived, and worked for various patrons throughout Italy.

Shortly after his return to Florence, he and Michelangelo were commissioned to paint frescos on the walls of the new city hall.  While he was working on his mural depicting the battle of Anghiari, which had been commissioned in part by Niccolo Machiavelli, Leonardo also painted his most famous work, the Mona Lisa.

A short while later, Leonardo's father passed away, leaving his family to fight over the distribution of his assets, of which none went to Leonardo.  It was only later and following the death of his uncle that Leonardo would inherit land and money.

Leonardo later went to Rome, and  was given living quarters in the Vatican by Pope Leo X, so that he could further explore the arts while working on commissioned pieces for the Church. Leonardo did not create many new paintings during this period, concentrating on his drawings instead; it was quite difficult for Leonardo to pursue his studies of scientific subjects and anatomy while in the employ of the Pope, as the Church frowned upon the dissection of human cadavers.

But Leonardo who had had many patrons ranging from Duke Sforza, to the evil Cesare Borgia, was one who had no trouble adapting to his surroundings, and he did create several drawings including The Deluge,  in which he portrayed the cataclysmic biblical event.

Continued on the next page...

 

 

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