Leonardo was born on 15th April 1452 in Vinci, Italy. His father Ser Piero was a notary while his mother was a peasant woman. His father took his custody after his mother left for another marriage shortly after his birth. As he grew up he was well exposed to Vinci’s traditional paintings and this prepared him well for his future career as a great painter of the Italian Renaissance. At the age of 12, his father took him to the workshop of Andrea Del Verrocchio in Florence where he worked from 1469 to 1477 as a trainee (Gibbs 23). It was in this studio that he developed his career as an artist. He observed and made use of various machines which gave him practical knowledge of their design and structure. He developed ideas by understanding how each part of the existing machines worked and he eventually combined them to come up with new improved machines besides inventions that never existed
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In 1482 he entered the service of the duke of Milan where he explored himself as a scientist and inventor. He spent 17 years in Milan where he concentrated on his scientific and artistic aspirations (Pedretti 195). He spent most of his time painting and sculpting and also designing court festivals. He expounded his drawing skills in the field of architecture, military engineering, canal building and weapon design. He designed weapons, buildings and machinery while he worked as a military engineer in Milan. During his career, he proposed to create a dry route across the gulf of Istanbul to connect the Golden Horn and the Bosporus with a bridge. This marked his voyage discovery (Gibbs 34). From his interest in gears, he invented the bicycle, helicopter, automobiles and weapons. In his study of water, he came up with devices for measuring humidity, steam-powered cannon and different water wheels. Other water devices included floating snowshoes, breathing devices, webbed gloves, life preservers to remain afloat, devices to attack and sink ships underwater, an unsinkable double-hulled ship and dredges for clearing harbors and channels (Pedretti 200).
Leonardo lived in Rome from 1514 to 1516 where he worked under a Pope patron Giuliano. He built many toys and machines and also completed a great painting of John the Baptist as a young man. Leonardo had a great desire to study human anatomy but the Roman Catholics would not allow him to examine and cut up dead bodies (Pedretti 196). He, therefore, decided to study animal parts obtained from a butcher shop. From these samples, he was able to produce intense models of how the heart works. Leonardo usually wrote in Italian using some special kind of shorthand which made it very difficult for other people to read. He only wrote in the normal way when he intended other people to read his article. This method of writing helped him to protect his ideas from being stolen and also hide his scientific ideas from the powerful Roman Catholics who opposed his observations (Gibbs 58).
He also studied optics and he actually attempted to make giant rounded mirrors in his workshop. Leonardo was also interested in botany and he studied many natural things.
The most famous artwork of Leonardo was the image of, “Mona Lisa” in 1507. The painting is also known as the la Giaconda which was the last name of the model who posed for the painting (Gibbs 72). It is analyzed for it beauty, technique and style. Other great paintings of Leonardo include the painting he did in Milan, “The Last Supper”. In this painting, da Vinci applied his knowledge in physiology, science and mathematics. The “15 *29” painting was an innovation that represented human reactions and emotions.
Another painting was, “The Vitruvian man” painting which related the human body’s proportions to those of the universe and also the material and spiritual dimensions.
Leonardo is remembered for other paintings such as the portrait of Ginevra de ‘Benci, Uriel, from The Virgin of the Rocks and the Flying Machine (Pedretti 202)
In conclusion, the described life of Leonardo Da Vinci as an artist, scientist and inventor should give enough confidence to his gracious majesty, Francis I, King of France to issue an invitation to him into the court. Leonardo has displayed a brilliant mind that led him to scientific discoveries although they were not published. He is a role model in the world of art and also in the application of scientific methods.
Carlo Pedretti. The Signatures and Original Foliation of Leonardo da Vinci’s Libro F. Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes.London, The Warburg Institute, Vol. 31, (1968), pp. 190-215.
Charles Harvard Gibbs- Smith. Inventions of Leonardo Da Vinci. London, Phaidon P, 1978, 23-78.