Leonardo Da Vinci

The life long work of the great Italian Renaissance artist and scientist

Leonardo da Vinci has proved most fascinating for so many generations. What

impresses people most today is perhaps, the diversity and numbers of his

achievements. In the past, however, he was admired and most recognized for his

achievements in art, and art theory. Leonardo's equally impressive contribution to

science has only recently been rediscovered. Many of Leonardo s contributions has

been preserved in a vast quantity of notes that became widely known only recently.

Leonardo was born in 1452, near the town of Vinci, not far from Florence.

His artistic talent must have revealed itself early, for he was soon apprenticed to

Andrea Verrocchio, a leading Renaissance master. In this versatile Florentine

workshop Leonardo acquired a variety of skills. He entered the painters' guild in

1472, and his earliest works date from this time.

Leonardo left Florence for Milan in 1482 to begin working for Duke Sforza in

Milan. Although active painting portraits, as a court artist, designing festivals, and

projecting an equestrian monument in sculpture to the duke's father, Leonardo also

became fascinated in non-artistic matters during this period. He put his profound

growing knowledge of mechanics to his duties as a civil and military engineer; in

addition, he took up scientific fields as diverse as anatomy, biology, mathematics,

and physics. These activities, however, did not prevent him from completing his

single most important painting, The Last Supper. However, during this period,

Leonardo began many projects which would be left unfinished, or become

interrupted.

With the fall of Milan to the French (1499), Leonardo left the city to find a

home and job elsewhere. By 1500 he was back in Florence where he would begin

working for Cesare Borgia as a military engineer. Again in Florence in 1503,

Leonardo undertook several very significant and important artistic projects,

including the portrait of Mona Lisa. At the same time, his scientific interests

broadened: he began studying the flight pattern of birds, and his amazement with

the human body led him to perform dissections.

Asked to work for the new French government, Leonardo returned to Milan

in 1506. Leonardo would live here for the next seven years o his life. The artistic

project on which he focused at this time was mostly kept in the planning stages. In

Milan, Leonardo would keep a vast and accurate set of records and details in his

notebooks documenting the many advances and achievements of his studies.

Leonardo's experiments and observations into the workings of nature are all

well documented in his sketches and in his many notebooks. The mechanical objects

that he drew and described were also concerned with the transformation of energy.

Leonardo's many investigations took him from surface to structure, from catching

the exact appearance of things in nature, to visually analyzing how they function.

His paintings, drawings, and many documentations show that he was the

foremost creative mind of his time, and maybe ever. Leonardo's art and science are

not separate, as was once believed, but belong to the same lifelong pursuit of

knowledge and wisdom. Leonardo s contributions to science will not be forgotten,

and not be left unnoticed. He will continue to influence people though his

innovations and masterful works of art.

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