Leonardo da Vinci (* 15 April 1452 in Anchiano (?) near Vinci; † 2 May 1519 at Clos Lucé Castle, Amboise; actually Lionardo di ser Piero da Vinci [son of (Mes)ser Piero from Vinci]) was an Italian painter, sculptor, architect, anatomist, mechanic, engineer and natural philosopher. He is considered one of the most famous polymaths of all time.
While his fame initially rested on his achievements as a painter, he also became known for his notebooks, in which he made drawings and notes on a variety of subjects, including anatomy, astronomy, botany, cartography, painting, and paleontology. Leonardo's genius epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal, and his complete works compose a contribution to later generations of artists surpassed only by that of his younger contemporary and co-founder of the High Renaissance, Michelangelo.
Born out of wedlock to a successful notary and a lower-class woman in, or near, Vinci, he was educated in Florence by the renowned Italian painter and sculptor Andrea del Verrocchio. He began his career in the city, but then spent much time in the service of Ludovico Sforza in Milan. Later, he worked in Florence and Milan again, as well as briefly in Rome, attracting a large following of imitators and students. Upon the invitation of Francis I, he spent his last three years in France, where he died in 1519. Since his death, there has not been a time where his achievements, diverse interests, personal life, and empirical thinking have failed to incite interest and admiration, making him a frequent namesake and subject in culture.
Leonardo is among the greatest painters in the history of art. Despite many lost works and less than 25 attributed major works—including numerous unfinished works—he created some of the most influential paintings in Western art. His magnum opus, the Mona Lisa, is his most famous work and is often considered the most famous painting in the world. The Last Supper is the most reproduced religious painting of all time and his Vitruvian Man drawing is also regarded as a cultural icon. In 2017, Salvator Mundi, attributed in whole or part to Leonardo, was sold at auction for US$ 450.3 million, setting a new record for the most expensive painting ever sold at public auction.
Revered for his technological ingenuity, he conceptualized flying machines, a type of armored fighting vehicle, concentrated solar power, an calculating machine, and the double hull. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or even feasible during his lifetime, as modern scientific approaches to metallurgy and engineering were in their infancy during the Renaissance. Some of his smaller inventions, however, entered the world of manufacturing unheralded, such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire. He is also sometimes credited with the inventions of the parachute, helicopter, and tank. He made substantial discoveries in anatomy, civil engineering, geology, optics, tribology, and hydrodynamics, but he did not publish his findings and they had little to no direct influence on subsequent science.
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16 | La Belle Ferronnière, c. 1495-1499
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