Writer, Mathematician, Inventor, Artist
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His full name was Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci but the world knows this famous artist as simply Leonardo da Vinci. During his time he was an intellectual and a leading artist of the Italian Renaissance period. His best known and most enduring works of art are “The Last Supper” and the lady with the mystic smile “Mona Lisa”. Da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452, in Vinci, Italy. He became interested in the laws of science and nature which helped him with his artistic endeavors as a painter, sculptor, inventor, and draftsman. Along with his two, best-known artworks, other paintings like “Virgin of the Rocks” and “Leda and the Swan” influenced many other artists.
He was the love child of a respected notary and a young peasant woman. To which my poetic and romantic mind says ah, the beauty of love. He was taken and raised by his father, Ser Piero and his stepmother. I have often heard of people looking down their noses at those who were born out of wedlock and as in the case of da Vinci we see that this is of no importance, what is of importance is how the person develops and grows. We can all say what a fine and talented artist da Vinci grew up to be. He started practicing art when he was 14 apprenticing with artist Verrocchio. He studied for six years and learned many technical skills among them metalworking, leather arts, carpentry, drawing, and sculpting. At the age of 20, da Vinci had already qualified as a master artist in the Guild of Saint Luke and had set up his own workshop. Unusual as it may seem Florentine court records show that da Vinci was charged with and acquitted of sodomy when he was 22 and afterward was unheard of for two years.
The Last Supper
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A man from a prominent Italian family, Lorenzo de Medici commissioned da Vinci in 1482 to create a silver lyre and to present it to Ludovico il Moro, the Duke of Milan, as a peace offering. The artist did as he was told and wrote to il Moro telling him how he could be of great service to the Duke’s court with his artistic and engineering talents. Da Vinci was accepted into the court and from 1482 until 1499 was commissioned to work on many different projects. It was during this period that da Vinci painted “The Last Supper”.
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Of course, many people look upon the lady with the mystic smile as one of his most well-known and famous paintings. The “Mona Lisa” was an artwork that was commissioned privately and completed between 1505 and 1507. There have been many different things said about this wonderful work of art. It has been said that Mona Lisa had jaundice, that she was a pregnant woman and the one that I love the best that it wasn’t a woman at all but a man in drag.
Personally, my romantic heart says that she was a woman very much in love and thinking about her love while the painting was being painted that is why she has that unusual smile on her face. It is thought that the “Mona Lisa” in the portrait is Lisa Gioconda, the wife of a merchant. Da Vinci always strived to perfect this painting and so it was never delivered to its commissioner but the artist kept it with him his entire life. Today the “Mona Lisa” has found her home in the Louvre Museum in Paris, France and sits securely behind bulletproof glass and is regarded as a priceless national treasure. I wonder if perhaps the spirit of the real Mona Lisa smiles fondly as people admire her day after day.
Among the many different things that da Vinci has been referred to are a genius and a Renaissance man. He had many different talents that stretched beyond just art. The master’s observations and inventions were recorded on 13,000 pages of notes and drawings. Among these are such amazing things like designs for flying machines done some odd 400 years before the Wright Brothers built the first airplane, plant studies, war machinery, anatomy, and architecture. All of this included theoretical explanations and some of his more graphic drawings of the human body were among the first on human record.
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One of the last commissioned works of da Vinci was a mechanical lion that could walk and when its chest was opened there was a bouquet of lilies. I sure would have loved to see this lion. Da Vinci passed over to the world beyond in Amboise, France on May 2, 1519. His assistant Francesco Melzi became the principal heir and executor of his estate. I looked up Melzi in the Wikipedia and found out that he was the son of a Milanese noble family who took up residence with da Vinci in 1506 and traveled with him to Rome and France.
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