Leonardo da Vinci

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Leonardo da Vinci
Self Portrait (detail) by Leonardo da Vinci

Self Portrait (detail)

Born: 04/15/1452
Location: Vinci, Italy
Died: 05/02/1519
Age: 67
Movements Renaissance
Nationality Italian
Expertise Painting

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian painter, inventor, engineer, and mathematician during the Renaissance period. Considered a genius in both art and math, Leonardo is one of the most well-known painters and thinkers of all time.

Personal life

Leonardo da Vinci worked as an apprentice under the artist Verrocchio for six years until Leonardo entered the Guild of Saint Luke as a master artist at the age of twenty. Two years later, he was charged with sodomy. He was acquitted of the charges and disappeared for two undocumented years. Before his death, the artist lived in France, in a home that was given to him by King Francois I. Legend says that the artist and King were so close, Leonardo died in the King’s arms. In accordance with his will, sixty beggars followed Leonardo’s casket during the funeral.


Leonardo’s big break came when Lorenzo de’ Medici commissioned the artist to create a silver lyre for Ludovico il Moro, the Duke of Milan. The Duke was impressed with Leonardo’s artistic and engineering talents and asked him to paint many projects, including The Last Supper, the most reproduced religious painting of all time. Leonardo da Vinci’s most well-known painting is the Mona Lisa, a privately commissioned portrait that was completed between 1505 and 1507 and currently hangs in the Louvre Museum in France, protected with bulletproof glass and considered a national treasure. For Leonardo, the painting was never delivered since he never considered it finished and attempted to perfect the work until the end of his life. Leonardo’s drawing of the Vitruvian Man, a study of anatomical proportions, includes architectural notes that suggest Leonardo’s combined interests in art and science. Vitruvius gave proportions and measurements for the ideal human figure, and the drawing was named to honor the architect. Like many Renaissance painters, Leonardo completed many religious paintings, including The Madonna of the Carnation, a portrait of Mary the virgin mother doting on her baby son, Jesus. Despite its lack of authenticity, experts credit the work to Leonardo, citing his detailing of the Uffizi Annunciation as Leonardo’s signature style.

Fun Facts

  • His anatomical drawings of the heart, sex organs, and bone structures are some of the first on human record.
  • His assistant and perhaps lover, Francesco Melzi, was Leonardo’s principal heir and executor of his estate.
  • He drew plans for a flying machine 400 years before the Wright brothers were born.

Related Artists


Leonardo da Vinci: Examples of Artwork

Mona Lisa c. 1507 artwork by Leonardo da Vinci

Mona Lisa c. 1507

Female Head (La Scapigliata) c. 1508 sketch drawing artwork by Leonardo da Vinci

Female Head (La Scapigliata) c. 1508

Study For The Face Of The Virgin Mary Of The Annunciation Now In The Louvre sketch drawing artwork by Leonardo da Vinci

Study For The Face Of The Virgin Mary Of The Annunciation Now In The Louvre