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Interesting Facts About Leonardo da Vinci
Dawit Abeza
Interesting Facts About Leonardo da Vinci

Interesting Facts About Leonardo da Vinci

Who was Leonardo da Vinci, and what did he do?

Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian painter, architect, inventor, and science student. His inherent genius spanned so many fields that he became synonymous with the term "Renaissance man." Today, he is best renowned for his art, which includes the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, two of the most famous and admired paintings in the world.

Da Vinci thought that art was inextricably linked to science and nature. He created dozens of secret journals with inventions, observations, and thoughts about subjects ranging from aeronautics to anatomy while being largely self-educated.

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Career of Leonardo da Vinci

Da Vinci had no official schooling beyond basic reading, writing, and math, but his father recognized his creative aptitude and apprenticed him to Andrea del Verrocchio, a well-known sculptor, and painter in Florence when he was around 15 years old. Da Vinci spent almost a decade refining his painting and sculpting techniques as well as studying mechanical arts.

The painters' guild of Florence offered da Vinci admission when he was 20, in 1472, but he stayed with Verrocchio until 1478 when he became an independent master. Around 1482, he began work on The Adoration of the Magi, a commissioned work for Florence's San Donato, a Scopeto monastery. Leonardo da Vinci was born in the town of Anchiano, Italy, to a distinguished notary/lawyer, Messer Piero Frosino di Antonio da Vinci, and a young peasant lady named Caterina di Meo Lippi.

He spent his early childhood with his mother. The future Renaissance legend moved to Vinci with his father when he was five years old. Leonardo had minimal formal training, despite becoming one of history's finest artists. He was tutored in Latin and mathematics at his father's home, and at the age of 14, he became an apprentice at the studio of the famous artist Verrocchio in Florence. Leonardo da Vinci would have learned a variety of crafts during his seven years there, including drafting, metallurgy, plaster casting, and carpentry. He was also taught how to sketch, paint, and sculpt.

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Leonardo da Vinci Facts

His name wasn't "Leonardo da Vinci" at all.

At the time of his birth, Leonardo's full name was Lionardo di ser Piero da Vinci, which translated to "Leonardo, (son) of ser Piero from Vinci." Because he resided near Florence, he was known simply as Leonardo or "Il Florentine" to his contemporaries.

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He didn't have a surname or a last name.

Though Leonardo is frequently referred to simply as "da Vinci," the truth is that he did not have a last name, at least not in the modern sense. Da Vinci actually means "of Vinci," which is where he was born. This was standard practice at the time.

Hereditary surnames became more prevalent among the elite class during Leonardo's lifetime, although they would not become regular practice until the mid-16th century. As a result, most museums and scholarly texts continue to refer to him simply as Leonardo.

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He was a Bible believer.

According to the Biblical timeframe, there would not have been enough time for rivers and sea levels to shift enough to build the geological formations on the earth's surface, according to Leonardo.

He claimed that the age of the Earth was significantly larger than mentioned in the Bible, based on his own observations of water movement and mountain features. He attributed the existence of sea fossils on mountain tops to falling sea levels, rather than the biblical flood.

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He was an illegitimate child.

Leonardo was born on 14/15 April 1452 in a farmhouse outside of Anchiano, Tuscany, to Ser Piero, a wealthy Florentine notary, and Caterina, an unmarried peasant lady. Leonardo was the only child they had together, while they had 12 other children with various partners.

Because he was an illegitimate child, he was not expected to follow in his father's footsteps and become a notary. Instead, he was free to pursue his own passions and seek a career in the arts.

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He worked as a military engineer and architect.

Leonardo came into a partnership with the notorious Cesare Borgia a few years after the finish of the equestrian sculpture. He was the papal army's commander in chief and was notorious for his ruthlessness in maintaining authority and attempting to overrun various Italian republics.

He was the son of Pope Alexander VI. Leonardo worked as a "senior military architect and general engineer" for ten months. As a result, he went around Borgia's various provinces surveying them. He also designed a number of city plans and topographic maps that predate modern mapping.

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He had only a little schooling.

Leonardo was mostly self-taught, having only acquired a minimal education in reading, writing, and mathematics. His artistic abilities were apparent from a young age. He began an apprenticeship with the sculptor and painter Andrea del Verrocchio of Florence when he was 14 years old.

He was exposed to theoretical training as well as a wide range of technical talents in Verrocchio's studio, including metals, carpentry, drawing, painting, and sculpture.

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The human body captivated him.

Leonardo's curiosity with the human body was unquenchable. He didn't stop at studying what was already known; he went on to do as many as 30 human dissections at hospitals in Milan, Florence, and Rome. His interest in anatomy expanded to the point where it became its own field of study for the artist, regardless of how it inspired his art.

He was not only interested in the structure of anatomy from an early age, but he also began physiological studies. His paintings, which depict how the brain, heart, and lungs function as the body's center, are still regarded as scientific milestones. His anatomical drawings, in fact, were crucial in the development of modern scientific illustration.

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He never finished his initial commissions.

Leonardo's first solo commission came in 1478 when he was asked to paint an altarpiece for the Chapel of St. Bernard in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio. He was commissioned to paint 'The Adoration of the Magi' at the San Donato convent in Florence in 1481.

When he moved to Milan to work for the Sforza family, he was compelled to leave both commissions. Leonardo painted 'The Last Supper' at the refectory of the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie under the patronage of the Sforzas. Leonardo stayed in Milan for 17 years, leaving only when Duke Ludovico Sforza was deposed in 1499.

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His efforts were based on science.

Leonardo, as a painter, was naturally fascinated by the qualities of light and lighting. Unlike other painters, however, he applied his scientific mind to analyzing these features in order to better comprehend their inner workings.

This unique technique of investigation led him to accurately theorize why the sky is blue, much ahead of 19th-century physicists such as John Tyndall and Lord Rayleigh. People perceive the sky to be blue because the sun illuminates minute particles of moisture in the atmosphere, according to one of da Vinci's many notebooks.

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Bill Gates owns one of Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks.

Bill Gates has the sole copy outside of Europe of Leonardo da Vinci's 72-page illustrated manuscript, the Codex Leicester, also known as the Codex Hammer. The collection is named after several people, including the Earl of Leicester and Armand Hammer, who both once had copies.

The Microsoft mogul paid roughly $40 million for the science-themed notepad at a Christie's auction in the mid-1990s. The work, which includes pages written by Leonardo da Vinci in Milan and Florence between 1506 and 1510, covers a wide range of topics, including light diffusion in the skies, speculations on why the moon is luminous, and a study of hydrodynamics.

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He was a talented musician.

Leonardo had a gift for music, which was perhaps unsurprising for someone who succeeded at everything he attempted. According to his own writings, he saw music as being intimately tied to the visual arts because it relied on one of the five senses in the same way. "He sang brilliantly without any preparation," according to Georgio Vasari, Leonardo's contemporary.

He also played the lyre and the flute, and he frequently performed at aristocracy meetings and at the homes of his clients. Some of his original musical works are preserved in his manuscripts, and he invented an organ-viola-harpsichord instrument that was first released in 2013.

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He was a Vatican resident.

He spent his last years here, in the Vatican City's Cortile del Belvedere, alongside Raphael and his old rival Michelangelo. Leonardo was given a stipend and complete autonomy over his studies, but he became disappointed when he failed to satisfy the Pope.

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His most important project was ruined.

In 1482, Leonardo completed his most important commission, Gran Cavallo or 'Leonardo's Horse,' for the Duke of Milan, Ludovico il Moro. The proposed equestrian statue of the Duke's father, Francesco Sforza, was to be more than 25 feet tall and the world's largest equestrian statue.

Leonardo planned the statue for over 17 years. However, in 1499, French armies stormed Milan before it was completed. The triumphant French soldiers used the clay sculpture for target practice, breaking it to bits.

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He had a habit of procrastinating.

Leonardo da Vinci was not a productive artist. He would frequently fail to complete his paintings and projects due to his wide range of interests. Instead, he'd spend his days immersed in nature, doing scientific experiments, dissecting human and animal bodies, and scribbling inventions, observations, and hypotheses in his notebooks.

Leonardo's right hand is said to have been paralyzed by a stroke, cutting short his painting career and leaving works like "the Mona Lisa" unfinished. As a result, just 15 works have been assigned to him, either entirely or partially.

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During this time, his ideas had little influence.

Leonardo's scientific ideas and innovations were not well received by his contemporaries, despite his high artistic reputation. He made no attempt to have his notes published, and his notebooks – also known as his manuscripts and "codices" – were only made available to the public centuries later.

Many of his discoveries had little impact on scientific progress throughout the Renaissance period since they were kept hidden.

In this painting, there is a figure hidden.

But it's not who you think it is. Leonardo was a big fan of basing his figures on actual people, and he spent a lot of time seeking a criminal to model for Judas. When his customer grumbled that he was wasting his time, Leonardo said that Judas would be based on him.

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He was accused of sodomy.

In an event involving a well-known male prostitute in 1476, Leonardo and three other young men were accused with sodomy. It was a serious charge that may have resulted in his death.

The allegations were dropped due to a lack of proof, but Leonardo vanished for a time, reappearing in 1478 to take on a commission at a chapel in Florence.

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He spent the last few years of his life in France.

Leonardo left Italy for good when Francis I of France offered him the post of "Premier Painter, Engineer, and Architect to the King" in 1515. It allowed him to labor at his leisure while living in Clos Lucé, a country manor home near the king's residence in Amboise, in the Loire Valley.

Leonardo died at the age of 67 in 1519 and was buried at a neighboring palace church. During the French Revolution, the church was nearly destroyed, making it hard to locate his burial.

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Michelangelo was despised by him.

Michelangelo's muscled figures, according to Leonardo, looked like "bags of walnuts or bunches of radishes." When Leonardo was appointed to the commission tasked with deciding where Michelangelo's masterwork David should be placed, he bemoaned the marble's low quality.

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He spent the last years of his life in France.

Leonardo was forced to leave Milan when he was 60 years old owing to political turmoil. This brought him to Rome, where he was entertained by the Pope's brother, Giuliano de Medici. While Leonardo hoped to find work in Rome, he was instead given a stipend and left to his own devices, while other artists such as Raphael and Michelangelo worked on commissions for the Pope.

This irritated Leonardo to the point where, five years later, he enthusiastically accepted the King of France's offer to work for him. In 1516, at the age of 65, he left Italy and never returned. While he didn't paint much in France, he did devote a lot of time to his scientific endeavors.

He died only a few years after arriving in France and was buried in the Château d'Amboise's Collegiate Church of Saint Florentin. Unfortunately, during the French Revolution, the church was devastated, and it was demolished in 1802. Because some of the graves were also damaged, historians have had difficulty locating his remains.

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He is buried in St Florentine's Château d'Amboise.

He began working for Francis I of France around 1516. He was well-liked and collaborated closely with the king on the construction of a new fortified city. At the age of 67, Leonardo died here, at Clos Lucé, in 1519. According to folklore, King Francis sobbed while holding the elderly man in his arms.

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