Facts about Leonardo Da Vinci
‘I love those who can smile in trouble, who can gather strength from distress, and grow brave by reflection. ‘Tis the business of little minds to shrink, but they whose heart is firm, and whose conscience approves their conduct, will pursue their principles unto death.’ – Leonardo Da Vinci
  • Leonardo is considered by many as the father of modern science.
  • He was one of the most acclaimed artists of the Renaissance (a period when the arts and sciences flourished).
  • He was born on April 15, 1452 in the small town of Vinci, in Tuscany (Toscana), near Florence (Italy).
  • He was the illegitimate child of Messer Piero Fruosino di Antonio da Vinci, a Florentine notary, and Caterina, a peasant.
  • His nationality is Italian.
  • Leonardo was raised by his single father.
  • He began his career as an apprentice to Florentine artist Andrea del Verrochio.
  • Leonardo was an architect, musician, engineer, scientist and inventor.
  • He wrote most of his notes using mirror writing. Some believe that this was to keep his ideas secret.
  • Leonardo sketched the first parachute, first helicopter, first aeroplane, first tank, first repeating rifle, swinging bridge, paddleboat and the first motorcar.
  • Leonardo was very much interested in the possibility of human flight. He produced many studies of the flight of birds and plans for several flying machines.
  • He was also a sculptor, designer of costumes, mathematician and botanist.
  • He made maps of Europe.
  • He invented the scissors and hydraulic pumps.
  • He designed a movable bridge for the Duke of Milan.
  • He invented the bicycle 300 years before it appeared on the road.
  • Leonardo’s first solo painting, completed in 1478, was ‘Madonna and Child’.
  • In 1481 he left Florence for Milan to offer his service to the local duke.
  • In 1481 he began painting ‘Adoration of the Magi’, an unfinished work that reveals his technique of beginning with a dark painting surface and adding elements of light, unlike most painters of his time who started with outlined figures on a white surface.
  • In 1483 he started to paint the first version of the ‘Virgin’. He completed it in 1485.
  • He drew the plans of the first armored car in 1485.
  • In 1495 Leonardo made a clay model for the statue of Francesco Forza, and put it on display.
  • He took part as an engineer in the war against Pisa.
  • ‘The Mona Lisa’ is perhaps his most famous work. The subject of this portrait is still debated to this day, the most popular current view being that it is of Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo. One of the most unusual hypotheses is that it is a self-portrait of Leonardo as a woman.
  • It took him about ten years to paint Mona Lisa’s lips.
  • Leonardo was famous for the way he used light in his portraits.
  • He painted ‘The Last Supper’ at Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan; a dramatic depiction of the moment Jesus announced that he would be betrayed. By 1500 the painting’s deterioration had begun. Since 1726, many attempts have been made to restore it.
  • Leonardo changed the way people painted and made sculptures.
  • He established modern techniques of scientific illustration with highly accurate renderings such as ‘Embryo in the Womb’.
  • Leonardo would wear pink to make his complexion look fresh.
  • He never married or had children.
  • Leonardo had a reputation of being a man of high character.
  • He drew a self-portrait in 1515.
  • He was undeniably one of the greatest thinkers and well ahead of his time by hundreds of years.
  • Leonardo died on May 2, 1519 and was buried in San Fiorentino in Amboise.

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