“Among the sciences painting comes first. Do you not perceive how many and various notions are performed by man only, how many different animals there are, as well as trees, plants, flowers, with many mountainous regions and plains, springs and rivers, cities with public and private buildings; machines, too, fit for the purposes of man, diverse costumes, decorations and arts? And all these things ought to be regarded as of equal importance and value by the man who can be termed a good painter.” Leonardo da Vinci.
Leonardo da Vinci was born in Anchiano near Vinci. His talents blossomed early and he entered the Florentine workshop of Andrea del Verrochio in 1469. Three years later he joined the painters’ guild of St. Luke in Florence after an apprenticeship with Verrochio. Numerous provisional drawings exist from this period and it was already clear that Leonardoshowed enormous skill. In 1482 he moved to Milan where he stayed until 1499(leaving because of the French invasion).
Soon after arriving in Milan he received a commission for the ‘Madonna of the Rocks’ from the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception. He worked mainly at the court of Duke Ludovico Sforza where he undertook two major projects, the first of which was a large equestrian statue to Sforza’s father and the second, ‘The Last Supper’ (c.1495-1497). Besides these, Leonardo worked on a number of portraits including the ‘Lady with an Ermine’ (c.1483-1486) and an altarpiece of the ‘Madonna of the Rocks’ (1483-1485). Then in 1500 he returned to Florence. He began working as a military engineer for Cesare Borgia. In 1506 he then returned to Milan and a year later Louis XII of France appointed Leonardo as his painter and engineer. By 1513 he was in Rome again where Pope Leo X offered him an apartment in the Bleeder of the Vatican. However, it was between 1500 and 1506 when Leonardo was probably most active, producing ‘Mona Lisa’ and the wall painting ‘Battle of Anghiari’ amongst others. In 1516 da Vinci moved to France on the invitation of Francis I and three years later died at Cloux, near Amboise.
Leonardo da Vinci has left an astonishing legacy, not only in his painting and theses on painting but in the fields of design and engineering also. Works such as ‘Mona Lisa’ and ‘St John the Baptist’ show his skill most exquisitely. His work influenced the High Renaissance movement and particularly the two artists Michelangelo and Raphael. Although he did not leave a large body of work, his remarkable intellect and innovative ideas as well as the extraordinary technique he showed in his paintings and sculptures ensured his enduring reputation.