Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci. 15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519. Italian artist and scientist, inventor, writer, musician, one of the greatest representatives of the High Renaissance art. Universally recognized genius.
Life and Work:
1. “In nature, everything is wisely thought out and arranged, everyone should do his own thing, and in this wisdom is the highest justice of life.” If it is indeed so, Leonardo did not follow his own advice. Or he considered too much to be his thing.
2. On April 15, 1452, at the third hour of the night, that is, at about eleven o’clock in the evening as we count the time now, Caterina, a peasant woman from the village of Anciano and Pietro, a notary from the town of Vinci near Florence, had a son, who was named Leonardo.
3. Until the age of three, Leonardo grew up with his mother: his father chose his equal and married a rich and noble maiden. But they had no children, and the notary Pietro decided to take the illegitimate son in. When Leonardo was three, he was separated from his mother – now art historians are looking for Caterina’s image in Leonardo’s masterpieces.
4. More than 550 years ago, humanity could not imagine that it obtained one of the greatest geniuses who ever walked the Earth. A strong and handsome man, a thinker, a genius, almost a magician. An artist, and also, in modern terms, an engineer, architect, and designer.
5. The brilliant left-hander came up with a submarine, a helicopter, a parachute, a sewing machine, something similar to a contact lens, and much more. But he did not build anything – did not have time, was ahead of his time, cooled down and abandoned the project.
6. The only Leonardo’s invention, which was actually used during his lifetime was the so-called pistol wheel lock, which had to be cocked with a key. By the middle of the 16th century, wheel lock pistols gained such popularity that the armor design had to be changed: they started to make them with gloves instead of mittens. The pistol wheel lock, invented by Leonardo da Vinci, was used for about two centuries.
7. Rotary-wing aircrafts are called “helicopters.” It was Leonardo da Vinci who coined this word – he combined the Greek words for “spiral” and “wing”.
8. The great Renaissance man’s records had to be read using a mirror – Leonardo was ambidextrous, that is, he was equally good with his right and left hands. He wrote most of his texts with his left hand from right to left. There is a version that he concealed his research this way. According to another version, this method of writing was his individual feature. Anyway, the concept of “Leonardo’s handwriting” has entered the world culture.
9. Desperate to introduce Leonardo to his useful profession, his father sent him to Andrea Verocchio’s studio. The tutor taught him what he could, and then asked him to paint a fragment in his own painting. After that, Verocchio did not paint anything – the student clearly surpassed his teacher.
10. The world’s best museums are proud to have Leonardo’s masterpieces: among these masterpieces are Benois Madonna, Madonna Litta, The Lady with an Ermine, The Virgin of the Rocks.
11. It is believed that King Francis I of France bought the pinnacle of Leonardo’s artistic creativity for his bathroom when the artist was still alive. He paid four thousand gold florins, which is equivalent to 15 kilograms and 300 grams of gold. Anyone who has seen the image of La Gioconda will agree that it is worth it.
12. Once, the abbot of the Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan visited Leonardo and said, “The wall at the back of our monastery refectory is disproportionately long compared to the vault height. Could you have a look and say what you can do?” Leonardo had a look. Thus, the famous Last Supper was created.
13. Leonardo also made his own judgment about the sciences and wrote several treatises. Here is one of his indisputable thoughts: “Science is the captain, and practice the soldiers.” And also: “Iron rusts from disuse; stagnant water loses its purity and in cold weather becomes frozen; even so does inaction sap the vigor of the mind.”
14. In order to keep you mind free from rust, try to solve Leonardo’s riddles: the most brilliant and mysterious of the Renaissance masters composed a lot of them. Here is probably the simplest one of them: “Flying creatures will support men with their very feathers.” What was Leonardo talking about? About a feather bed.
15. Leonardo da Vinci was very interested in anatomy. He did autopsies and created an incredible number of drawings of the human body and its organs. His drawings and notes on this subject were not published during his lifetime. Anatomists, however, believe that Leonardo’s work in the field of anatomy was 300 years ahead of his time.
16 In Treatise on Painting, which was compiled from his deciphered manuscripts, Leonardo wrote, “The azure of the sky is produced by the transparent body of the air, illumined by the sun, and interposed between the darkness of the expanse above, and the earth below.” So, he was the first to explain why the sky is blue.
17. In the Norwegian municipality of Os, a pedestrian bridge was built based on Leonardo da Vinci’s project.
18. In 1516, Leonardo accepted the French king’s invitation and settled near the royal castle of Amboise in the castle of Clos-Luce, where Francis I spent his youth. Leonardo was given the official title of the first royal artist, engineer, and architect, and an annuity of one thousand ecus. Leonardo died there, in Clos Luce.
19. Leonardo had many students and friends, but he did not flaunt his own personal life. On the contrary, he carefully protected it from prying ears and eyes. The Renaissance giant was not married.
20. It is believed that da Vinci was a vegetarian.