Leonardo da Vinci

 

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Apr 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519

Painter, Sculptor, Engineer, Scientist, Musician, Architect

Italian

“As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so a life well spent brings happy death.”

“Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence.”

For part of his life Leonardo was a vegetarian. He often bought birds, which were sold to be killed and eaten, and set them free.

Leonardo was driven by a restless energy and curiosity. He did not like the machine with the monotony of rote learning and the rough play of the other boys. He would often skip out to be alone and to observe and record nature. Leonardo had a strange way of writing his letters with his left hand in reverse. Unlike many of the most talented people of the past, Leonardo da Vinci’s fame began during his own lifetime. He was trained to be a painter, but his interests and accomplishments were in an extraordinary number of areas -- he is often referred to as a universal genius. Some of his sketchings turned out to resemble tanks, helicopters, bicycles and other machines up to 400 years before they were invented. His scientific work sometimes took precedence over his painting. He was involved with hydrodynamics, anatomy, mechanics, mathematics and optics. He made many drawings of the human body. There are detailed drawings of skeletons, muscle structures and organ systems. To draw these he used bodies which were stolen from a nearby morgue. He was a master of both art and science. He was the first to make paintings seem real with feelings of movement and beautiful backgrounds. Some of the world’s most well-known pictures were painted by him, including the Mona Lisa and the mural of the Last Supper. When Leonardo saw a face he wanted to paint, he would follow the person around all day until he memorized the face. Then he would go home and draw the person.