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Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci

(1452 - 1519)
Born: Vinci, Italy
Style: High Renaissance
Famous Works:
  • Vitruvian Man (c. 1487)
  • The Last Supper (1495-98)
  • Mona Lisa (1519)
The High Renaissance starts with the master artist and inventor Leonardo da Vinci. The Early Renaissance artist Andrea del Verrocchio trained Leonardo in Florence. In 1482 Leonardo left Verrocchio's studio for Milan, where he worked for the court of Ludovico Sforza for almost 20 years, completing numerous commissions. Leonardo was highly interested in science, botany, architecture, military strategy, anatomy, optics, hydraulics and aerodynamics, as well as several other areas of study. He used his talents to draw relief maps for the military, and to mark altitude and plan irrigation. The human body was a favorite study for Leonardo, and the legend surrounding the master's life states that he dissected over thirty corpses to study the layers of the body. Although dissection was rare during the Renaissance, Leonardo became the first medical illustrator. After leaving Milan in 1499, Leonardo settled in Florence, where he painted the Mona Lisa. This painting demonstrates his use of sfumato, an important painting technique developed by Leonardo. The technique of sfumato allowed Leonardo to paint moisture-laden air, fog-like in appearance, adding luminosity and warmth to paintings. Few artists have possessed the sheer genius of Leonardo. His grasp of nature and scientific curiosity distinguish him from other talents of the Renaissance. The extensive journals he kept show how his restless mind was constantly working to understand the world. In them, Leonardo wrote backwards, recording his experiments in sketches and words. He is even credited with conceiving of the first aircraft in these journals, and his plans bear a striking resemblance to today's helicopter. The last years of his life were dedicated to his scientific studies.
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