Leonardo da Vinci was
born in 1452 near Vinci in what is now the Italian region of Tuscany. By most accounts, his father was a landlord and public official named Messer Piero Fruosino di Antonio da Vinci. His mother, Caterina is commonly believed to have been a local peasant. However, some experts believe that Caterina was actually a slave owned by Messer Piero. Unlike other well-known Renaissance artists da Vinci never received any kind of formal education. He spent much of his time outdoors, where he marveled at the natural world. It wasn’t until his teenage years that the artist was sent to Florence to one of the best workshops in Florence to serve as an apprentice under the guidance of Andrea del Verrocchio, a prominent Florentine painter. Da Vinci was a notoriously slow painter, and many of his works were never finished. In 1503, Da Vinci painted The Mona Lisa, the most famous painting in the world. Not only do the eyes “follow” you, but the elusive smile on her face lends an air of mystery. It is theorized that the artist took about ten years to paint Mona Lisa’s lips. Many of his works were unfinished. Perhaps the most intriguing of da Vinci’s unfinished works is his painting “The Adoration of the Magi” which allegedly features a depiction of the young artist himself. The painting was left incomplete in 1481. Leonardo da Vinci and his work are still fascinating until this day. Not only was he a genius, but Leonardo da Vinci was also a painter, a scientist a musician a sculptor a mathematician an engineer an anatomist an architect an inventor a botanist a geologist a cartographer and a writer. He is the definition of a Renaissance man. Did you know… Leonardo was a technological genius. He drew designs for a helicopter calculator tank solar power double hull ships and the beginnings of the theory of tectonic plates. He also invented the bicycle, 300 years before they first appeared on the road and drew the plans for the first armored car in 1485. Leonardo da Vinci had dyslexia so when he made notes on his inventions it was all written in reverse which made it hard for other people to dig through his notes and steal his ideas. He was also a vegetarian who loved animals and he had a habit of purchasing caged birds and then releasing them. Leonardo left no definitive image of himself but by some accounts it’s assumed that he had long blonde hair and blue eyes. He left behind more than 6,000 journal pages filled with his personal musings Leonardo had a tendency to crude jokes and satirical tales of human weaknesses. That is perhaps one of the reasons why he left such bizarre figure types of drawings. Because of the multiplicity of interests that he pursued in every field of knowledge Leonardo can be considered to have been the universal genius par excellence and with all the overtones inherent in that term. Still considered a genius even for today’s standards five centuries have passed, yet we still view Leonardo with awe.