Leonardo da Vinci
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Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci , April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) was an Italian polymath: scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, musician and writer. Born near Vinci in the region of Florence, the illegitimate son of a notary, Messer Piero, and a peasant girl, Caterina, Leonardo was educated in the studio of the renowned Florentine painter, Verrocchio. Much of his earlier working life was spent in the service of Ludovico il Moro in Milan where several of his major works were created. He also worked in Rome, Bologna and Venice, spending his final years in France at the home given him by King François I.
Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the "Renaissance man" or universal genius, a man whose seemingly infinite curiosity was equalled only by his powers of invention. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived.
It is primarily as a painter that Leonardo was and is renowned. Two of his works, the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper occupy unique positions as the most famous, most reproduced and most parodied portrait and religious painting of all time, their fame approached only by Michelangelo's Creation of Adam. Leonardo's drawing of the Vitruvian Man is also iconic. Perhaps fifteen paintings survive, the small number due to his constant, and frequently disastrous, experimentation with new techniques, and his chronic procrastination. Nevertheless these few works, together with his notebooks, which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and his thoughts on the nature of painting, comprise a contribution to later generations of artists only rivalled by that of his contemporary, Michelangelo.
As an engineer, Leonardo conceived ideas vastly ahead of his own time, conceptualising a helicopter, a tank, concentrated solar power, a calculator, and the double hull, and outlining a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or even feasible during his lifetime, but some of his smaller inventions such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire entered the world of manufacturing unheralded. As a scientist, he greatly advanced the state of knowledge in the fields of anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and hydrodynamics.
Early life, 1452–1466
Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452, at Anchiano, a hamlet near the Tuscan hill town of Vinci, in the lower valley of the Arno River in the territory of Florence. He was the illegitimate son of Ser Piero da Vinci, a Florentine notary, and Caterina, a peasant. Leonardo had no surname in the modern sense, "da Vinci" simply meaning "of Vinci": his full birth name was "Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci", meaning "Leonardo, son of (Mes)ser Piero from Vinci." Little is known about his early life, which has been the subject of historical conjecture by Vasari and others. At the age of five, he went to live in the household of his father, grandparents and uncle, Francesco, in the small town of Vinci, where his father had married a sixteen-year-old girl named Albiera, who loved Leonardo but unfortunately died young.
Leonardo was later to record only two incidents of his childhood. One, which he regarded as an omen, was when a kite dropped from the sky and hovered over his cradle, its tail feathers brushing his face. The second incident occurred while he was exploring in the mountains. He discovered a cave and recorded his emotions at being, on one hand, terrified that some great monster might lurk there and on the other, driven by curiosity to find out what was inside.
Vasari, the 16th century biographer of Renaissance painters, tells the story of how a local peasant requested that Ser Piero ask his talented son to paint a picture on a round plaque. Leonardo responded with a painting of snakes spitting fire which was so terrifying that Ser Piero sold it to a Florentine art dealer, who sold it to the Duke of Milan. Meanwhile, having made a profit, Ser Piero bought a plaque decorated with a heart pierced by an arrow which he gave to the peasant. And died the next day
Verrocchio's workshop, 1466–1476DIE
In 1466 Leonardo was apprenticed to one of the most successful artists of his day, Andrea di Cione, known as Verrocchio. The workshop of this renowned master was at the centre of the intellectual currents of Florence, assuring the young Leonardo of an education in the humanities. Among the painters apprenticed or associated with the workshop and also to become famous, were Perugino, Botticelli, and Lorenzo di Credi.
In a Quattrocento workshop such as Verrocchio's, artists were regarded primarily as craftsmen and only the master such as Verrocchio had social standing. The products of a workshop included decorated tournament shields, painted dowry chests, christening platters, votive plaques, small portraits, and devotional pictures. Major commissions included altarpieces for churches and commemorative statues. The largest commissions were fresco cycles for chapels. As a fourteen-year-old apprentice, Leonardo would have been trained in all the countless skills that were employed in a traditional workshop. Although many craftsmen specialised in tasks such as frame-making, gilding and bronze casting, Leonardo would have been exposed to a vast range of technical skills and had the opportunity to learn drafting, chemistry, metallurgy, metal working, plaster casting, leather working, mechanics and carpentry as well as the obvious artistic skills of drawing, painting, sculpting and modelling.
Although Verrocchio appears to have run an efficient and prolific workshop, most work was done by his employees, and few paintings can be ascertained as coming from his hand. On one of those, according to Vasari, Leonardo collaborated. The painting is the Baptism of Christ. According to Vasari, Leonardo painted the young angel holding Jesus’ robe in a manner that was so far superior to his master's that Verrocchio put down his brush and never painted again. This is probably an exaggeration. On close examination, the painting reveals much that has been painted or touched up over the tempera using the new technique of oil paint. The landscape, the rocks that can be seen through the brown mountain stream and much of the figure of Jesus bears witness to the hand of Leonardo.
The other creation of Verrocchio’s which is pertinent to the young Leonardo is the bronze statue of David, now in the Bargello Museum, which according to tradition is a portrait of the apprentice, Leonardo. If this is the case, then in the figure of David we see Leonardo as a thin muscular boy, quite different to the rounded androgynous figure made by Verrocchio’s teacher, Donatello and with which it is often compared. It is also suggested that the Archangel Michael in Verrocchio's Tobias and the Angel is a portrait of Leonardo.
There are few records from this period of Leonardo's life. One is his earliest known dated work, a drawing done in pen and ink of the Arno valley, drawn on 5 August 1473. In 1472, at the age of twenty, Leonardo qualified as a master in the Guild of St Luke, the guild of artists and doctors of medicine, but even after his father set him up in his own workshop, his attachment to Verrocchio was such that he continued to collaborate with him. stupid idiot that bitch died he suwed himself for milisting himself
Professional life, 1476–1513
It is assumed that Leonardo had his own workshop in Florence between 1476 and 1481. Court records of 1476 show that, with three other young men, he was charged with sodomy, of which charges all were acquitted. From this date there is no record of his work or even his whereabouts until 1478.
In 1478 he was commissioned to paint an altarpiece for the Chapel of St Bernard and in 1481 by the Monks at Scopeto for The Adoration of the Magi. In 1482 Leonardo, whom Vasari tells us was a most talented musician, created a silver lyre in the shape of a horse's head. Lorenzo de’ Medici was so impressed with this that he decided to send both the lyre and its maker to Milan, in order to secure peace with Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan. At this time Leonardo wrote an often-quoted letter to Ludovico, describing the many marvellous and diverse things that he could achieve in the field of engineering and informing the Lord that he could also paint.
Between 1482 and 1499, when Louis XII of France occupied Milan, much of Leonardo’s work was in that city. It was here that he was commissioned to paint two of his most famous works, the Virgin of the Rocks for the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, and The Last Supper for the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie. While living in Milan between 1493 and 1495 Leonardo listed a woman called Caterina as among his dependants in his taxation documents. When she died in 1495, the detailed list of expenditure on her funeral suggests that she was his mother rather than a servant girl.
For Ludovico, he worked on many different projects which included the preparation of floats and pageants for special occasions, designs for a dome for Milan Cathedral and a model for a huge equestrian monument to Francesco Sforza, Ludovico’s predecessor. Leonardo modelled a huge horse in clay, which became known as the "Gran Cavallo". It surpassed in size the only two large equestrian statues of the Renaissance, Donatello’s statue of Gattemelata in Padua and Verrocchio’s Bartolomeo Colleoni in Venice. Seventy tons of bronze were set aside for casting it. The monument remained unfinished for several years, which was not in the least unusual for Leonardo. Michelangelo rudely implied that he was unable to cast it. In 1495 the bronze was used for cannons to defend the city from invasion under Charles VIII.
The French returned to invade Milan in 1499 under Louis XII and the invading French used the life-size clay model for the "Gran Cavallo" for target practice. With Ludovico Sforza overthrown, Leonardo, with his assistant Salaino and friend, the mathematician Luca Pacioli, fled Milan for Venice. In Venice he was employed as a military architect and engineer, devising methods to defend the city from naval attack.
Returning to Florence in 1500, he was the guest of the Servite Monastery, then in 1502 entered the services of Cesare Borgia, the son of Pope Alexander VI, acting as a military architect and engineer and travelling throughout Italy with his patron. In Forlì he met Caterina Sforza, of whom it is speculated by some that the Mona Lisa may be a portrait. At Cesenatico he designed the port.In Florence, he was part of a committee formed to relocate, against the artist’s will, Michelangelo’s statue of David.
In 1506 he returned to Milan, which was in the hands of Maximilian Sforza after Swiss mercenaries had driven out the French. Many of Leonardo’s most prominent pupils or followers in painting either knew or worked with him in Milan, including Bernardino Luini, Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio and Marco D'Oggione. However, he did not stay in Milan for long, as his father died in 1504, and in 1507 he was back in Florence trying to sort out problems with his brothers over his fathers estate. By 1508 he was living in his own house in Milan, in Porta Orientale in the parish of Santa Babila. 
From September 1513 to 1516, Leonardo lived in the Belvedere in the Vatican in Rome, where Raphael and Michelangelo were both active at the time.  In 1515, François I of France retook Milan. Leonardo was commissioned to make a centrepiece (a mechanical lion) for the peace talks between the French king and Pope Leo X in Bologna. In 1516, he entered François' service, being given the use of the manor house Clos Lucé next to the king's residence at the royal Chateau Amboise. It was here that he spent the last three years of his life. The King granted Leonardo and his entourage generous pensions: the surviving document lists 1,000 écus for the artist, 400 for Count Francesco Melzi, (his pupil, named as "apprentice"), and 100 for Salaino ("servant"). In 1518 Salaino left Leonardo and returned to Milan, where he eventually perished in a duel. 
Leonardo died at Clos Lucé, France, on May 2, 1519. François I had become a close friend. Vasari records that the King held Leonardo’s head in his arms as he died, although this story, beloved by the French and portrayed by Ingres in a romantic painting, has been shown to be legend rather than fact. Vasari also tells us that in his last days, Leonardo sent for a priest to make his confession and to receive the Holy Sacrament. In accordance to his will, sixty beggars followed his casket. He was buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert in the castle of Amboise. Although Melzi was his principal heir and executor, Salaino was not forgotten, receiving half of Leonardo's vineyards.
Some twenty years after Leonardo's death, François was reported by the goldsmith and sculptor Benevenuto Cellini as saying:
|“||No man ever lived who had learned as much about sculpture, painting, and architecture, but still more that he was a very great philosopher.||”|
Relationships and influences
Leonardo commenced his apprenticeship with Verrocchio in 1466, the year that Verrocchio’s master, the great sculptor Donatello, died. The painter Uccello whose early experiments with perspective were to influence the development of landscape painting, was a very old man. The painters Piero della Francesca and Fra Filippo Lippi, sculptor Luca della Robbia, and architect and writer Alberti were in their sixties. The successful artists of the next generation were Leonardo's teacher Verrocchio, Antonio Pollaiuolo and the portrait sculptor, Mino da Fiesole whose lifelike busts give the most reliable likenesses of Lorenzo Medici's father Piero and uncle Giovanni.
Leonardo's youth was spent in a Florence that was ornamented by the works of these artists and by Donatello's contemporaries, Masaccio whose figurative frescoes were imbued with realism and emotion and Ghiberti whose Gates of Paradise, gleaming with gold leaf, displayed the art of combining complex figure compositions with detailed architectural backgrounds. Piero della Francesca had made a detailed study of perspective, and was the first painter to make a scientific study of light. These studies and Alberti's Treatise were to have a profound effect on younger artists and in particular on Leonardo's own observations and artworks.
Massaccio's depiction of the naked and distraught Adam and Eve leaving the Garden of Eden created a powerfully expressive image of the human form, cast into three dimensions by the use of light and shade which was to be developed in the works of Leonardo in a way that was to be influential in the course of painting. The Humanist influence of Donatello's David can be seen in Leonardo's late paintings, particularly John the Baptist.Cite error: Closing </ref> missing for <ref> tagLorenzo Medici (il Magnifico), who was three years older, and his popular younger brother Giuliano who was slain in the Pazzi Conspiracy in 1478. Ludovico il Moro who ruled Milan between 1479–1499 and to whom Leonardo was sent as ambassador from the Medici court, was also of Leonardo’s age.
With Alberti, Leonardo visited the home of the Medici and through them came to know the older Humanist philosophers of whom Marsiglio Ficino, proponent of Neo Platonism and Cristoforo Landino, writer of commentaries on Classical writings, were foremost. Also associated with the Academy of the Medici was Leonardo's contemporary, the brilliant young poet and philosopher Pico della Mirandola. Leonardo later wrote in the margin of a journal "The Medici made me and the Medici destroyed me." While it was through the action of Lorenzo that Leonardo was to receive his important Milanese commissions, it is not known exactly what Leonardo meant by this cryptic comment.
Although usually named together as the three giants of the High Renaissance, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael were not of the same generation. Leonardo was 23 when Michelangelo was born and 31 when Raphael was born. The short-lived Raphael died in 1520, the year after Leonardo, but Michelangelo went on creating for another 45 years.
Assistants and pupils
Gian Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno, nicknamed Salai or il Salaino ("The little devil), was described by Giorgio Vasari as "a graceful and beautiful youth with fine curly hair, in which Leonardo greatly delighted." Il Salaino entered Leonardo's household in 1490 at the age of ten. The relationship was not an easy one. A year later Leonardo made a list of the boy’s misdemeanours, calling him "a thief, a liar, stubborn, and a glutton." The "Little Devil" had made off with money and valuables on at least five occasions, and spent a fortune on apparel, among which were twenty-four pairs of shoes. Nevertheless, Leonardo’s notebooks during their early years contain many pictures of the handsome, curly-haired adolescent. Il Salaino remained his companion, servant, and assistant for the next thirty years.
As a painter, Salaino’s work is generally considered to be of less artistic merit than others among Leonardo's pupils such as Marco d'Oggione and Boltraffio. In 1515 he painted, under the name of Andrea Salai, a nude portrait of "Lisa del Giocondo", based upon the Mona Lisa and known as Monna Vanna. The Mona Lisa was bequeathed to Salaino by Leonardo, and in Salaino's own will it was assessed at the high value of £200,000.
In 1506, Leonardo took as a pupil Count Francesco Melzi, the fifteen-year-old son of a Lombard aristocrat. Salaino, at first jealous of Melzi, eventually accepted his continued presence and the three undertook journeys throughout Italy. Melzi became Leonardo's life companion, and is considered to have been his favourite student. He travelled to France with Leonardo and was with him until his death.
Leonardo had many friends who are now renowned in their fields, or for their influence on history. These included the mathematician Luca Pacioli with whom he collaborated on a book in the 1490s and Cesare Borgia, in whose service he spent the years 1502 and 1503. During that time he also met Niccolò Machiavelli, with whom later he was to develop a close friendship. Also among his friends were also Franchinus Gaffurius and Isabella d'Este. Leonardo appears to have had no close relationships with women except for Isabella d'Este. He drew a portrait of her while on a journey which took him through Mantua which appears to have been used to create a painted portrait, now lost.
Beyond friendship, Leonardo kept his private life secret. He commented "the act of procreation and anything that has any relation to it is so disgusting that human beings would soon die out if there were no pretty faces and sensuous dispositions".
Leonardo's most intimate relationships were with his pupils Salai and Melzi, Melzi writing that Leonardo's feelings for him were both loving and passionate. It has been claimed since the 16th century that these relationships were of an erotic nature. Since that date much has been written about his presumed homosexuality and its role in his art, particularly in the androgyny and eroticism manifested in John the Baptist and Bacchus and more explicitly in a number of drawings.
Despite the recent awareness and admiration of Leonardo as a scientist and inventor, for the better part of four hundred years his enormous fame rested on his achievements as a painter and on a handful of works, either authenticated or attributed to him that have been regarded as among the supreme masterpieces ever created.
These paintings are famous for a variety of qualities which have been much imitated by students and discussed at great length by connoisseurs and critics. Among the qualities that make Leonardo’s work unique are the innovative techniques that he used in laying on the paint, his detailed knowledge of anatomy, light, botany and geology, his interest in physiognomy and the way in which humans register emotion in expression and gesture, his innovative use of the human form in figurative composition and his use of the subtle gradation of tone. All these qualities come together in his most famous works, the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper and the Virgin of the Rocks.
Leonardo’s early works begin with the Baptism of Christ painted in conjunction with Verrocchio. Two other paintings appear to date from his time at the workshop, both of which are Annunciations. One is small, 59 cms long and only 14 cms high. It is a “predella” to go at the base of a larger composition, in this case a painting by Lorenzo di Credi from which it has become separated. The other is a much larger work, 217 cm long. In both these Annunciations, Leonardo has used a formal arrangement, such as in Fra Angelico’s two well known pictures of the same subject, of the Virgin Mary sitting or kneeling to the right of the picture, approached from the left by an angel in profile, with rich flowing garment, raised wings and bearing a lily. Although previously attributed to Ghirlandaio it is now almost universally attributed to Leonardo.
In the smaller picture Mary averts her eyes and folds her hands in a gesture that symbolised submission to God’s will. In the larger picture, however, Mary is not in the least submissive. The beautiful girl, interrupted in her reading by this unexpected messenger, puts a finger in her bible to mark the place and raises her hand in a formal gesture of greeting or surprise. This calm young woman accepts her role as the Mother of God not with resignation but with confidence. In this painting the young Leonardo presents the Humanist face of the Virgin Mary, a woman who recognises humanity’s role in God’s incarnation.
Paintings of the 1480s
In the 1480s Leonardo received two very important commissions, and commenced another work which was also of ground-breaking importance in terms of composition. Unfortunately two of the three were never finished and the third took so long that it was subject to lengthy negotiations over completion and payment. One of these paintings is that of St Jerome in the Wilderness. Although the painting is barely begun the entire composition can be seen and it is very unusual. Jerome, as a penitent, occupies the middle of the picture, set on a slight diagonal and viewed somewhat from above. His kneeling form takes on a trapezoid shape, with one arm stretched to the outer edge of the painting and his gaze looking in the opposite direction. Across the foreground sprawls his symbol, a great lion whose body and tail make a double spiral across the base of the picture space. The other remarkable feature is the sketchy landscape of craggy rocks against which the figure is silhouetted.
The daring display of figure composition, the landscape elements and personal drama were to reappear in the great unfinished masterpiece, the Adoration of the Magi, a commission from the Monks of San Donato a Scopeto. It is a very complex composition about 250 cm square. For it Leonardo did numerous drawings and preparatory studies, including a detailed one in linear perspective of the ruined classical architecture which makes part of the backdrop to the scene. But in 1482 Leonardo went off to Milan at the behest of Lorenzo de’ Medici in order to win favour with Ludovico il Moro and the painting was abandoned.
The third important work of this period is the Virgin of the Rocks which was commissioned in Milan for the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception. The painting, to be done with the assistance of the de Predis brothers, was to fill a large complex altarpiece, already constructed. Leonardo chose to paint an apocryphal moment of the infancy of Christ when the Infant John the Baptist, in protection of an angel, met the Holy Family on the road to Egypt. In this scene, as painted by Leonardo, John recognizes and worships Jesus as the Christ. The painting demonstrates an eerie beauty as the graceful figures kneel in adoration around the infant Christ in a wild and rocky landscape of tumbling rock and whirling water. While the painting is quite large, about 200 x 120 cms, it is nowhere as complex as the painting ordered by the monks of St Donato, having only four figures rather than about 50 and a rocky landscape rather than architectural details. The painting was eventually finished; in fact, two versions of the painting were finished, one which remained at the chapel of the Confraternity and the other which Leonardo carried away to France. But the Brothers did not get their painting, or the de Predis their payment, until the next century.
Paintings of the 1490s
Leonardo's most famous painting of the 1490s is The Last Supper, also painted in Milan. The painting represents the last meal shared by Jesus with his disciples before his capture and death. It shows specifically the moment when Jesus has said “one of you will betray me.” Leonardo tells the story of the consternation that this statement caused to the twelve followers of Jesus. Vasari describes in detail how he worked on it, how some days he would paint like fury, how other days he would spend hours just looking at it, and how he walked the streets of the city looking for the face of Judas, the traitor.
When finished, the painting was acclaimed as a masterpiece of design and characterisation. But its artist was also denounced for the fact that it was no sooner finished than it began to fall off the wall. Leonardo, instead of using the reliable technique of fresco, had experimented with different paint-binding agents, which were subject to mold and to flaking. Despite this, the painting has remained one of the most reproduced works of art, countless copies being made in every medium from carpets to cameos.
Paintings of the 1500s
Among the works created by Leonardo in the 1500s is the small portrait known as the Mona Lisa or “la Gioconda”, the laughing one. The painting is famous, in particular, for the elusive smile on the woman’s face, its mysterious quality brought about perhaps by the fact that the artist has subtly shadowed the corners of the mouth and eyes so that the exact nature of the smile cannot be determined. The shadowy quality for which the work is renowned came to be called “sfumato” or Leonardo’s smoke. Other characteristics found in this work are the unadorned dress, in which the eyes and hands have no competition from other details, the dramatic landscape background in which the world seems to be in a state of flux, the subdued colouring and the extremely smooth nature of the painterly technique, employing oils, but laid on much like tempera and blended on the surface so that the brushstrokes are indistinguishable.
In the Virgin and Child with St. Anne the composition again picks up the theme of figures in a landscape, and harks back to the St Jerome picture with the figure set at an oblique angle. What makes this painting unusual is that there are two obliquely-set figures, superimposed. Mary is seated on the knee of her mother, St Anne. She leans forward to support the Christ Child as he plays (rather roughly) with a lamb, the sign of his own impending sacrifice. In the composition of this painting, Leonardo is showing trends which would be adopted in particular by the Venetian painters, Titian and Tintoretto as well as by Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo, and Correggio.
Leonardo was not a prolific painter, but he was a most prolific draftsman, keeping journals full of small sketches and detailed drawings recording all manner of things that took his attention. As well as the journals there exist many studies for paintings, some of which can be identified as preparatory to particular works such as The Adoration of the Magi, The Virgin of the Rocks and The Last Supper.  His earliest dated drawing is a Landscape of the Arno Valley, 1473, which shows the river, the mountains, Montelupo Castle and the farmlands beyond it in great detail.
Among his famous drawings are the Vitruvian Man, a study of the proportions of the human body, the Head of an Angel, for The Virgin of the Rocks in the Louvre, a botanical study of Star of Bethlehem and a large drawing (160×100 cm) in black chalk on coloured paper of the The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist in the National Gallery, London. This drawing employs the subtle sfumato technique of shading, in the manner of the Mona Lisa. It is thought that Leonardo never made a painting from it, the closest similarity being to The Virgin and Child with St. Anne in the Louvre. 
Other drawings of interest include numerous studies generally referred to as "caricatures" because, although exaggerated, they appear to be based upon observation of live models. Vasari relates that if Leonardo saw a person with an interesting face he would follow them around all day observing them. There are numerous studies of beautiful young men, often associated Salaino, with the rare and much admired facial feature, the so-called "Grecian profile". These faces are often contrasted with that of a warrior. Salaino is often depicted in fancy-dress costume. Leonardo is known to have designed sets for pageants with which these may be associated. Other, often meticulous, drawings show studies of drapery. A marked development in Leonardo's ability to draw drapery occurred in his early works. Another often-reproduced drawing is a macabre sketch that was done by Leonardo in Florence in 1479 showing the body of Bernado Baroncelli, hanged in connection with the murder of Giuliano, brother of Lorenzo de'Medici, in the Pazzi Conspiracy. With dispassionate integrity Leonardo has registered in neat mirror writing the colours of the robes that Baroncelli was wearing when he died.
Leonardo as observer, scientist and inventor
Renaissance humanism saw no mutually exclusive polarities between the sciences and the arts, and Leonardo's studies in science and engineering are as impressive and innovative as his artistic work, recorded in notebooks comprising some 13,000 pages of notes and drawings, which fuse art and natural philosophy (the forerunner of modern science). These notes were made and maintained daily throughout Leonardo's life and travels, as he made continual observations of the world around him.
The journals are mostly written in mirror-image cursive. The reason may have been more a practical expediency than for reasons of secrecy as is often suggested. Since Leonardo wrote with his left hand, it is probable that it was easier for him to write from right to left.
His notes and drawings display an enormous range of interests and preoccupations, some as mundane as lists of groceries and people who owed him money and some as intriguing as designs for wings and shoes for walking on water. There are compositions for paintings, studies of details and drapery, studies of faces and emotions, of animals, babies, dissections, plant studies, rock formations, whirl pools, war machines, helicopters and architecture.
These notebooks—originally loose papers of different types and sizes, distributed by friends after his death—have found their way into major collections such as the Royal Library at Windsor Castle, the Louvre, the Biblioteca Nacional de España, the Biblioteca Ambrosiana in Milan, and the Victoria and Albert Museum and British Library in London. The British Library has put a selection from its notebook (BL Arundel MS 263) on the web in the Turning the Pages section. The Codex Leicester is the only major scientific work of Leonardo's in private hands. It is owned by Bill Gates, and is displayed once a year in different cities around the world.
Leonardo's journals appear to have been intended for publication because many of the sheets have a form and order that would facilitate this. In many cases a single topic, for example, the heart or the human foetus, is covered in detail in both words and pictures, on a single sheet. This method of organisation minimises of loss of data in the case of pages being mixed up or destroyed. Why they were not published within Leonardo's lifetime is unknown.
In January 2005, researchers discovered what some believe to be a hidden laboratory used by Leonardo da Vinci for studies of flight and other pioneering scientific work in previously sealed rooms at a monastery next to the Basilica of the Santissima Annunziata, in the heart of Florence.
Leonardo's approach to science was an observational one: he tried to understand a phenomenon by describing and depicting it in utmost detail, and did not emphasize experiments or theoretical explanation. Since he lacked formal education in Latin and mathematics, contemporary scholars mostly ignored Leonardo the scientist, although he did teach himself Latin. In the 1490s he studied mathematics under Luca Pacioli and prepared a series of drawings of regular solids in a skeletal form to be engraved as plates for Pacioli's book Divina Proportione, published in 1509.
It has also been said that he was planning a series of treatises to be published on a variety of subjects though none survives; it appears he did complete a coherent treatise on anatomy, which was observed during a visit by Cardinal Louis D'Aragon's secretary in 1517.
Leonardo's formal training in the anatomy of the human body began with his apprenticeship to Andrea del Verrocchio, his teacher insisting that all his pupils learn anatomy. As an artist, he quickly became master of topographic anatomy, drawing many studies of muscles, tendons and other visible anatomical features.
As a successful artist, he was given permission to dissect human corpses at the hospital Santa Maria Nuova in Florence and later at hospitals in Milan and Rome. From 1510 to 1511 he collaborated in his studies with the doctor Marcantonio della Torre and together they prepared a theoretical work on anatomy for which Leonardo made more than 200 drawings. It was published only in 1680 (161 years after his death) under the heading Treatise on painting.
Leonardo drew many studies of the human skeleton and its parts, as well as muscles and sinews, the heart and vascular system, the sex organs, and other internal organs. He made one of the first scientific drawings of a fetus in utero. As an artist, Leonardo closely observed and recorded the effects of age and of human emotion on the physiology, studying in particular the effects of rage. He also drew many models among those who had significant facial deformities or signs of illness.
He also studied and drew the anatomy of many other animals as well. He dissected cows, birds, monkeys, bears, and frogs, comparing in his drawings their anatomical structure with that of humans. He also made a number of studies of horses.
Engineering and inventions
Fascinated by the phenomenon of flight, Leonardo produced detailed studies of the flight of birds, and plans for several flying machines, including a helicopter powered by four men (which would not have worked since the body of the craft would have rotated) and a light hang glider which could have flown. On January 3, 1496 he unsuccessfully tested a flying machine he had constructed.
During his lifetime Leonardo was valued as an engineer. In a letter to Ludovico il Moro he claimed to be able to create all sorts of machines both for the protection of a city and for siege. When he fled to Venice in 1499 he found employment as an engineer and devised a system of moveable barricades to protect the city from attack. He also had a scheme for diverting the flow of the Arno River in order to flood Pisa.
In 1502, Leonardo produced a drawing of a single span 720-foot (240 m) bridge as part of a civil engineering project for Ottoman Sultan Beyazid II of Istanbul. The bridge was intended to span an inlet at the mouth of the Bosporus known as the Golden Horn. Beyazid did not pursue the project, because he believed that such a construction was impossible. Leonardo's vision was resurrected in 2001 when a smaller bridge based on his design was constructed in Norway. On 17 May 2006, the Turkish government decided to construct Leonardo's bridge to span the Golden Horn.
Leonardo the legend
Within Leonardo's own lifetime his fame was such that the King of France carried him away like a trophy, and was claimed to have supported him in his old age and held him in his arms as he died. Vasari, in his "Lives of the Artists" written about thirty years after Leonardo's death, described him as having talents that "transcended nature".
The interest in Leonardo has never slackened. The crowds still queue to see his most famous artworks, T-shirts bear his most famous drawing and writers, like Vasari, continue to marvel at his genius and speculate about his private life and, particularly, about what one so intelligent actually believed in.Giorgio Vasari, in his "Lives of the Artists", in its enlarged edition of 1568 introduces his chapter on Leonardo da Vinci with the following words:
In the normal course of events many men and women are born with remarkable talents; but occasionally, in a way that transcends nature, a single person is marvellously endowed by Heaven with beauty, grace and talent in such abundance that he leaves other men far behind, all his actions seem inspired and indeed everything he does clearly comes from God rather than from human skill. Everyone acknowledged that this was true of Leonardo da Vinci, an artist of outstanding physical beauty, who displayed infinite grace in everything that he did and who cultivated his genius so brilliantly that all problems he studied he solved with ease.
The continued admiration that Leonardo commanded from painters, critics and historians is reflected in many other written tributes. Baldassare Castiglione, author of Il Cortegiano ("The Courtier"), wrote in 1528: "… Another of the greatest painters in this world looks down on this art in which he is unequalled …" while the biographer known as "Anonimo Gaddiano" wrote, c. 1540: "His genius was so rare and universal that it can be said that nature worked a miracle on his behalf …"
The 19th century brought a particular admiration for Leonardo's genius, causing H. Fuseli to write in 1801: "Such was the dawn of modern art, when Leonardo da Vinci broke forth with a splendour that distanced former excellence: made up of all the elements that constitute the essence of genius …" This is echoed by A. E. Rio who wrote in 1861: "He towered above all other artists through the strength and the nobility of his talents."
By the 19th century, the scope of Leonardo's notebooks was known, as well as his paintings. H. Taine wrote in 1866: "There may not be in the world an example of another genius so universal, so incapable of fulfilment, so full of yearning for the infinite, so naturally refined, so far ahead of his own century and the following centuries."
The famous art historian Bernard Berenson wrote in 1896: "Leonardo is the one artist of whom it may be said with perfect literalness: Nothing that he touched but turned into a thing of eternal beauty. Whether it be the cross section of a skull, the structure of a weed, or a study of muscles, he, with his feeling for line and for light and shade, forever transmuted it into life-communicating values."
The interest in Leonardo's genius has continued unabated; experts study and translate his writings, analyse his paintings using scientific techniques, argue over attributions and search for works which have been recorded but never found. Liana Bortolon, writing in 1967, says: "Because of the multiplicity of interests that spurred him to pursue every field of knowledge, … Leonardo can be considered, quite rightly, to have been the universal genius par excellence, and with all the disquieting overtones inherent in that term. Man is as uncomfortable today, faced with a genius, as he was in the 16th century. Five centuries have passed, yet we still view Leonardo with awe."
List of paintings
None of Leonardo's paintings are signed. Certain works still in existence are cited by Vasari or are referred to in contracts.
- Entirely by Leonardo
- The Last Supper (1498) — Convent of Sta. Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy
- Mona Lisa or La Gioconda (1503–1505/1507) — Louvre, Paris, France
- Adoration of the Magi unfinished painting (1481) — Uffizi, Florence, Italy
- The Virgin and Child with St. Anne (c. 1510) — Louvre, Paris, France
- Virgin of the Rocks, Louvre, Paris, considered by most historians to be the earlier of two versions and to therefore date from 1483–1486.
- The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist large drawing (c. 1499–1500) — National Gallery, London, UK.
- St. Jerome in the Wilderness, (c.1480), Vatican, unfinished painting.
- Leonardo with other hands
- The Baptism of Christ (1472–1475) — Uffizi, Florence, Italy. Cited by Vasari as by Verrocchio, with the angel on the left-hand side by Leonardo. It is generally considered that Leonardo also painted the background landscape and the torso of Christ. One of Leornardo's earliest extant works.
- Virgin of the Rocks, National Gallery, London, generally accepted as postdating the version in the Louvre, possibly 1505–1508, with collaboration of de Predis and perhaps others.
- Accepted attributions
- Annunciation (1475–1480) — Uffizi, Florence, Italy. Generally thought to be the earliest extant work entirely by Leonardo.
- The Benois Madonna (1478–1480) — Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia.
- The Madonna of the Carnation, (1478–1480) Alte Pinakothek, Munich
- St. John the Baptist (c. 1514) — Louvre, Paris, France.
- Attribution dependent upon each other
These two paintings are almost certainly by the same artist, generally accepted to be Leonardo, but not without critics.
- Ginevra de' Benci (c. 1475) — National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., United States 
- Lady with an Ermine (1488–1490) — Czartoryski Museum, Kraków, Poland.
Of the following paintings, the first two are cited by Angela Ottino della Chiesa as having more general acceptance than the others. All have been claimed at some time to be Leonardos.
- La belle Ferronière (1495–1498) — Louvre, Paris, France
- Portrait of a Musician (c. 1490) — Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan, Italy
- Madonna Litta (1490–91) — Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia, thought perhaps to be by Marco d'Oggiono
- Madonna of the Yarnwinder 1501, perhaps an assistant's copy or painting from a lost drawing. Stolen.
- The Dreyfus Madonna, previously attributed to Verrocchio or Lorenzo di Credi. (The anatomy of the Christ Child is so poor as to discourage firm attribution).
- Bacchus (or St. John in the Wilderness) (1515) — Louvre, Paris, France (attribution disputed) is generally considered to be a pastiche.
- Recent attribution
- The Holy Infants Embracing c. 1486–1490 private collection.
- Madonna and Child with St Joseph, Borghese Gallery, previously attributed to Fra Bartolomeo. After recent cleaning, the gallery sought attribution as a work of Leonardo's youth, based on the presence of a fingerprint similar to one that appears in The Lady with the Ermine. Result of investigation not available.
- Mary Magdalene, recently attributed as a Leonardo by Carlo Pedretti. Previously regarded as the work of Giampietrino who painted a number of similar Magdalenes. This attribution is not accepted by other scholars, eg Carlo Bertelli, (former director of the Brera Art Gallery in Milan), who said this painting is not by Leonardo and that the subject could be a Lucretia with the knife removed.
- Christ Carrying the Cross, date unknown, private collection. Attribution by Carlo Pedretti.
- Known only as a copy
- Leda and the Swan (1508) — (Only copies survive—best-known example in Galleria Borghese, Rome, Italy. Another is in Wilton House, England.)
- Leonardo da Vinci - scientist and inventor
- Leonardo da Vinci in popular culture
- Leonardo da Vinci's personal life
- Luca Pacioli
- Leonardo Da Vinci International Airport near Rome
- Leonardo da Vinci Art Institute, Cairo
- List of painters
- List of Italian painters
- List of famous Italians
- Aerial perspective
- Renaissance painting
- Italian Renaissance
- Western painting
- History of painting
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Helen Gardner, Art through the Ages, (1970) Harcourt, Brace and World
- ↑ Vasari, Boltraffio, Castiglione, "Anonimo" Gaddiano, Berensen, Taine, Fuseli, Rio, Bortolon, etc. See specific quotations under heading "Leonardo, the legend".
- ↑ There are 15 significant artworks which are ascribed, either in whole or in large part, to Leonardo by most art historians. This number is made up principally of paintings on panel but includes a mural, a large drawing on paper and two works which are in the early stages of preparation. As well as these works there are a number of others that have been variously attributed to Leonardo.
- ↑ Modern scientific approaches to metallurgy and engineering were only in their infancy during the Renaissance.
- ↑ A number of Leonardo's most practical inventions are displayed at the Museum of Vinci.
- ↑ Brigstoke, Hugh (2001). The Oxford Companion the Western Art. USA: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198662033.
- ↑ Birth recorded in the diary of his paternal Grandfather, Ser Antonio.
- ↑ 8.00 8.01 8.02 8.03 8.04 8.05 8.06 8.07 8.08 8.09 8.10 8.11 8.12 8.13 8.14 8.15 8.16 Liana Bortolon, The Life and Times of Leonardo, Paul Hamlyn, London, 1967, ISBN
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 9.4 9.5 9.6 9.7 9.8 9.9 Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists, 1568; this edition Penguin Classics, trans. George Bull 1965, ISBN 0-14-044-164-6
- ↑ 10.0 10.1 Andrew Martindale, The Rise of the Artist, Thames and Hudson, ISBN 0-5000-56006-4
- ↑ 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 11.12 11.13 11.14 11.15 Angela Ottino della Chiesa, The Complete Paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, 1967, Penguin, ISBN 0-1400-8649-8
- ↑ See Donatello's David
- ↑ Now in the Uffizi drawing collection, no. 8P.
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 14.6 14.7 14.8 14.9 Daniel Arasse, Leonardo da Vinci, (1997) Konecky & Konecky, ISBN 1 56852 1987
- ↑ This is deduced from the record of payment made to the Compagnia di San Luca is the company's register, Libro Rosso A, 1472-1520, Accademia di Belle Arti. cited by della Chiesa
- ↑ Homosexual acts were illegal in Florence at the time.
- ↑ Abbott, Elizabeth (2001), A History of Celibacy, Da Capo Press, p. 340, ISBN 0306810417.
- ↑ Priwer, Shana & Phillips, Cynthia (2006), The Everything Da Vinci Book: Explore the Life and Times of the Ultimate Renaissance Man, Adams Media, pp. 245, ISBN 1598691015.
- ↑ Rossi, Paolo (2001). The Birth of Modern Science. Blackwell Publishing, 33. ISBN 0631227113.
- ↑ Leonardo's Letter to Ludovico Sforza. Leonardo-history. Retrieved on 2007-09-28.
- ↑ Codex II, 95 r, Victoria and Albert Museum, as cited by della Chiesa
- ↑ Gaetano Milanesi, Epistolario Buonarroti, Florence (1875). as cited by della Chiesa
- ↑ D'Oggione made contemporary copies of the Last Supper
- ↑ Clos Luce, also called "Cloux" is now a public museum
- ↑ King François cannot have been presen because the day after Leonardo's death, a royal edict was issued by the King at Saint-Germain-en-Laye, a two day journey distant from Clos Luce.
- ↑ Leonardo's will. Leonardo-history. Retrieved on 2007-09-28.
- ↑ 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 Frederich Hartt, A History of Italian Renaissance Art, (1970) Thames and Hudson, ISBN 0500231362
- ↑ 28.0 28.1 28.2 28.3 Gene A. Brucker, Renaissance Florence, 1969, Wiley and Sons, ISBN 0-471-11370-0
- ↑ 29.0 29.1 29.2 29.3 Ilan Rachum, The Renaissance, an Illustrated Encyclopedia, Octopus, ISBN 0-7064-0857-8
- ↑ Hugh Ross Williamson,Lorenzo the Magnificent, (1974) Michael joseph, ISBN 07181 12040
- ↑ Oreno website (Italian). Oreno. Retrieved on 2007-09-28.
- ↑ Gross, Tom. Mona Lisa Goes Topless. Paintingsdirect.com. Retrieved on 2007-09-27.
- ↑ Although this comment has been interpreted, by Freud and others as representing a loathing of physical contact, it may simply represent Leonardo's close awareness of human bodily function, reproduction and disease through his dissection of corpses.
- ↑ Michael Rocke, Forbidden Friendships epigraph, p. 148 & N120 p.298
- ↑ Michael Baxandall, Painting and Experience in Fifteenth Century Italy, 1974, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0 19 881329 5
- ↑ 36.0 36.1 Luciano Berti, The Uffzi, (1971) Scala
- ↑ 37.0 37.1 Jack Wasserman, Leonardo da Vinci, 1975 Abrams, ISBN 0-8109-0262-1
- ↑ The Mysterious Virgin. National Gallery, London. Retrieved on 2007-09-27.
- ↑ 39.0 39.1 39.2 39.3 39.4 39.5 39.6 39.7 A.E. Popham, The Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci, (1946) Jonathan Cape, ISBN 0 224 60462 7
- ↑ The "Grecian profile" has a continuous straight line from forehead to nose-tip, the bridge of the nose being exceptionally high. It is a feature of many Classical Greek statues.
- ↑ Left-handed writers using a split nib or quill pen experience difficulty pushing the pen from left to right across the page.
- ↑ Sketches by Leonardo. Turning the Pages. British Library. Retrieved on 2007-09-27.
- ↑ Windsor Castle, Royal Library, sheets RL 19073v-19074v and RL 19102 respectively.
- ↑ O'Malley & Saunders, Leonardo on the Human Body, 1982, Dover Publications New York
- ↑ The U.S. Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), aired in October 2005, a television programme called "Leonardo's Dream Machines", about the building and successful flight of a glider based on Leonardo's design
- ↑ Levy, Daniel S.. "Dream of the Master", Time Magazine, 4 October 1999. Retrieved on 2007-09-27.
- ↑ see reference to this in section "Old age".
- ↑ Baldassare Castiglione, Il Cortegiano, 1528
- ↑ "Anonimo Gaddiani", elaborating on Libro di Antonio Billi, 1537–1542
- ↑ H. Fuseli, Lectures, II, 1801
- ↑ A.E.Rio, L'art chrétien, 1861
- ↑ H. Taine, Voyage en Italie, 1866
- ↑ Bernard Berenson, The Italian Painters of the Renaissace, 1896
- ↑ ArtNews article about current studies into Leonardo's life and worksU.S.A
- ↑ All notes in this section are drawn from the analysis of opinions of various scholars by Angela Ottino della Chiesa, The Complete Paintings of Leonardo da Vinci, (1967) Penguin Classics of World Art series, ISBN 0-14-00-8649-8
- ↑ According to della Chiesa (see above) The authorship of all these paintings and drawings is accepted universally.
- ↑ Accepted by Guthman, McCurdy, Wasserman and others. A.O.della Chiesa (see above)
- ↑ While the date is not universally agreed, the collaboration of workshop is. A.O.della Chiesa (see above)
- ↑ The work was traditionally attributed to Verrocchio until 1869. It is now almost universally attributed to Leonardo. A.O.della Chiesa (see above)
- ↑ Most critics believ that it coincides with a Madonna mentioned by Leonardo in 1478. A.O.della Chiesa (see above)
- ↑ It is generally accepted as a Leonardo, but has some overpainting possibly by a Flemish artist. A.O.della Chiesa (see above)
- ↑ "Anonimo Gaddiano" wrote that Leonardo panted a St. John. This is generally considered Leonardo's last masterpiece. A.O.della Chiesa (see above)
- ↑ Early 20th century scholars were vociferous in their disagreement, but most current critics accept both the authorship and the identity of the sitter. A.O.della Chiesa (see above)
- ↑ This painting has been subject to continued disagreement since it was first published as a Leonardo in 1889. The attribution of the "Ginevra de' Benci" has supported the attribution of this painting. A.O. della Chiesa (see above)
- ↑ Details of this attibution not available.
- ↑ Arie, Sophie. "Fingerprint puts Leonardo in the frame", The Guardian, 16 February 2005. Retrieved on 2007-09-27.
- ↑ A lost Leonardo? Top art historian says maybe. Universal Leonardo. Retrieved on 2007-09-27.
- ↑ Bertelli, Carlo. "Due allievi non fanno un Leonardo", Il Corriere della Sera, November 19 2005. Retrieved on 2007-09-27. (Italian)
- ↑ Stephanie Fitch, Leonardo's Fingerprints, Forbes Magazine, December 22 2003
- Daniel Arasse (1997). Leonardo da Vinci. Konecky & Konecky. ISBN 1 56852 1987.
- Fred Bérence (1965). Léonard de Vinci, L'homme et son oeuvre. Somogy. Dépot légal 4° trimestre 1965.
- Liana Bortolon (1967). The Life and Times of Leonardo. Paul Hamlyn, London.
- Hugh Brigstoke (2001). The Oxford Companion the Western Art. USA: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0198662033.
- Gene A. Brucker (1969). Renaissance Florence. Wiley and Sons. ISBN 0 471 11370 0.
- Angela Ottino della Chiesa (1967). The Complete Paintings of Leonardo da Vinci. Penguin Classics of World Art series. ISBN 0-14-00-8649-8.
- Simona Cremante (2005). Leonardo da Vinci: Artist, Scientist, Inventor. Giunti. ISBN 88-09-03891-6 (hardback).
- Frederich Hartt (1970). A History of Italian Renaissance Art. Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0500231362.
- Michael H. Hart (1992). The 100. Carol Publishing Group. ISBN 0-8065-1350-0 (paperback).
- John N. Lupia. The Secret Revealed: How to Look at Italian Renaissance Painting. Medieval and Renaissance Times, Vol. 1, no. 2 (Summer, 1994): 6–17. ISSN 1075-2110.
- Andrew Martindale (1972). The Rise of the Artist. Thames and Hudson. ISBN 0-5000-56006.
- O'Malley & Saunders (1982). Leonardo on the Human Body. Dover Publications, New York.
- Charles Nicholl (2005). Leonardo da Vinci, The Flights of the mind. Penguin. ISBN 0-14-029681-6.
- Sherwin B. Nuland (2001). Leonardo Da Vinci. Phoenix Press. ISBN 0-7538-1269.
- A.E. Popham (1946). The Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci. Jonathan Cape. ISBN 0 224 60462 7.
- Shana Priwer & Cynthia Phillips (2006). The Everything Da Vinci Book: Explore the Life and Times of the Ultimate Renaissance Man. Adams Media. ISBN 1598691015.
- Ilan Rachum (1979). The Renaissance, an Illustrated Encyclopedia. Octopus. ISBN 0-7064-0857-8.
- Jean Paul Richter (1970). The Notebooks of Leonardo da Vinci. Dover. ISBN 0-486-22572-0 and ISBN 0-486-22573-9 (paperback). 2 volumes. A reprint of the original 1883 edition.
- Paolo Rossi (2001). The Birth of Modern Science. Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0631227113.
- Jack Wasserman (1975). Leonardo da Vinci. Abrams. ISBN 0-8109-0262-1.
- Giorgio Vasari (1568). Lives of the Artists. Penguin Classics, trans. George Bull 1965. ISBN 0-14-044-164-6.
- Frank Zollner & Johannes Nathan (2003). Leonardo da Vinci: The Complete Paintings and Drawings. Taschen. ISBN 3-8228-1734-1 (hardback).
- Leonardo da Vinci: Experience, Experiment, Design (review)
- Works by Leonardo da Vinci at Project Gutenberg
- Leonardo da Vinci by Maurice Walter Brockwell, available at Project Gutenberg.
- Complete text & images of Richter's translation of the Notebooks
- Vasari Life of Leonardo: in Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects.
- Web Gallery of Leonardo Paintings
- Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci
- Da Vinci Decoded Article from The Guardian
|NAME||Leonardo da Vinci|
|ALTERNATIVE NAMES||Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (full name)|
|SHORT DESCRIPTION||Italian artist and polymath|
|DATE OF BIRTH||April 15 1452|
|PLACE OF BIRTH||Anchiano by Vinci, Italy|
|DATE OF DEATH||May 2 1519|
|PLACE OF DEATH||Clos Lucé, France|
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