Florence, Cradle of the Renaissance

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The Life Of Leonardo Da Vinci

 The first association that came to the mind when speaking about Renaissance Art and Florence in combination for sure is the great Italian artist- Leonardo da Vinci. Known as leading artist and intellectual, he was also a sculptor, architect, inventor and military engineer. With a curious mind Leonardo  da Vinci studied the laws of science and nature, which greatly influenced  his work. His ideas and work have influenced innumerable artists and made da Vinci a leading light of the Italian Renaissance. Today Leonardo da Vinci remains best known for his two paintings that remain among the world’s most famous: Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.
Leonardo da Vinci was born in 1452, Anchiano, Tuscany, close to the town of Vinci that provided the surname we associate with him today. In his own time he was known just as Leonardo or as “Il Florentine”, since he lived near Florence.
Leonardo Da Vinci has never received formal education, except for the  basic reading, writing and math. However his artistic talent was highly appreciated and around the age of 15 he was already appreciated sculptor and painter. When he was at the age of 20, the painters’ guild of Florence offered Leonardo da Vinci membership, but he remained with Verrocchio until he became an independent master six years later. Around 1482, he began to paint his first commissioned work-The Adoration of the Magi, for Florence’s San Donato, a Scopeto monastery.
Da Vinci’s interests ranged far beyond fine art. He studied nature, mechanics, anatomy, physics, architecture, weaponry and more, often creating accurate, workable designs for machines like the bicycle, helicopter and etc. Da Vinci’ believed that sight was mankind’s most important sense and that “saper vedere”(“knowing how to see”) was crucial to living all aspects of life fully. Because of his diverse interest probably he failed to complete noteworthy number of paintings. He used to spend his time immersing the nature, scientific laws and writing about his observations Leonardo Da Vinci began filling notebooks related to four themes of his interest- painting, architecture, mechanics and human anatomy. His notebooks contained thousands of pages with drawings and illustrations and  densely penned commentary, some of which (thanks to left-handed “mirror script”) was indecipherable to others. The notebooks—often referred to as da Vinci’s manuscripts and “codices”—are housed today in museum collections after having been scattered after his death. The Codex Atlanticus, for instance, includes a plan for a 65-foot mechanical bat, essentially a flying machine based on the physiology of the bat and on the principles of aeronautics and physics.
Leanordo da Vinci will stay at the art history as famous painter and artist , however his output was quite small. Two of his paintings are listed among the world most famous paintings all the time. The first is da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”, painted during his time in Milan, from about 1495 to 1498. “The Last Supper” was created for the refectory of the city’s Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie. Also known as “The Cenacle,” this work measures about 15 by 29 feet and is the artist’s only surviving fresco. It depicts the Passover dinner during which Jesus Christ addresses the Apostles and says, “One of you shall betray me.” The painting has this impact because of its composition, in which Jesus is centered among yet isolated from the Apostles, has influenced generations of painters.
His second world famous painting was paint when Milan was invaded by the French in 1499 and the Sforza family fled. Leonardo da Vinci escaped possibly first to Venice and then to Florence. There, he painted a series of portraits that included “La Gioconda”, a 21-by-31-inch work that’s best known today as “Mona Lisa. Painted between approximately 1503 and 1506, the woman depicted—especially because of her mysterious slight smile. Today, the portrait—the only da Vinci portrait from this period that survives—is housed at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France.
Da Vinci left Italy in 1516, when the  French ruler Francis I offered him the title of “Premier Painter and Engineer and Architect to the King”, which afforded him the opportunity to paint and draw at his leisure while living in a country house, the Château of Cloux.  Leonardo Da Vinci died at Cloux in 1519 at age 67. He was buried nearby in the palace church of Saint-Florentin.



Florence artistic centres represent the expansion of the Italian Art from the Late Middle Ages to Renaissance.

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