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Leonardo da Vinci

1452 - 1519

"Painting…compels the mind of the painter to transform itself into the very mind of nature, to become an interpreter between nature and art."

- Leonardo

Painter, sculptor, architect, engineer and scientist, Leonardo made important contributions in many areas of knowledge, especially civil engineering and anatomy. Although many of his projects were never realized or completed, Leonardo painted some of the most famous and influential works in the history of art.

Some time between about 1469 and 1476, Leonardo moved to Florence, where his father apprenticed him to Andrea del Verrocchio (1435-88) a painter and outstanding sculptor. Leonardo remained in Verrocchio’s workshop despite registering in the Guild of St. Luke (the guild of Florentine master painters) in 1472. He assisted Verrocchio in his Baptism of Christ (Florence, Uffizi Gallery). As an independent master, Leonardo achieved an unprecedented integration of figures and space in his paintings. Works like his Battle of Anghiari (now lost) attracted the admiration of contemporaries, including Raphael. Leonardo divided his career chiefly between Milan and Florence, visiting Mantua and Venice in 1499-1500, the Romagna in 1504,and Piombino in 1504 before working in Rome and France.

Leonardo da Vinci, the natural son of a lawyer, Piero, was born at Vinci, near Florence. From 1476, Leonardo worked independently as a master painter in Florence, moving to Duke Ludovico II Moro court at Milan in 1483. While serving the Duke, Leonardo painted two versions of The Virgin of the Rocks (1483-86; Paris, Louvre; London, NG). His mural of the Last Supper at S. Maria della Grazie (1495-98) brought him great fame. Leonardo returned to Florence in 1500, painting The Virgin and Child with St. Anne (Paris, Louvre). He returned to Milan in 1506. When the city fell to French invaders, Leonardo served them until 1513, when he left to work for Giuliano de’Medici in Rome. Leonardo’s interest in science and cosmology, recorded in drawings and notebooks, found visual expression in his late paintings, including the Mona Lisa (Paris, Louvre). Summoned by François I, King of France, to become his principal painter and engineer, Leonardo left Italy in 1516 for France. He died at the king’s castle at Amboise.

 Leonardo da Vinci
Photo: HIP / Art Resource

Birth name

Leonardo da Vinci

Born

Born Italy: Vinci, 15 April 1452

Died

Died France: Le Clos-Lucé, 02 May 1519

Nationality

Italian

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