Leonardo da Vinci was one of the great Italian artists with amazing mastery in oil on canvas painting as well as many other disciplines. He was a well-known sculptor, architect, engineer, geologist, mathematician, botanist, animal behaviourist and a fine musician, with a genuine love for knowledge and research.
Leo nardo was born on the 15th of April, 1452, as the illegitimate son of the Florentine notary Ser Piero di Antonio da Vinci and a peasant woman, Caterina. He spent the first four years of his life with his mother in a small Tuscan town – Vinci. After 1457, he settled in Florence.
At the age of 15, Leonardo became an apprentice of Andrea del Verrocchio – a famous painter and sculptor of his day. There he was introduced to many different artistic and creative activities including painting panel pictures and making large sculptural works in marble and bronze. One of Leonardo’s best known works is the “Kneeling angel”, in Verrochio’s “Baptism of Christ”. “The Annunciation” also belongs to this period. Other famous canvases from this period include, “Madonna Benois”, “Madonna with the Carnation” and “Portrait of Ginevra de’Benci”. In 1472, he entered the San Luca guild of painters in Florence, which was an indication that he had by this time achieved an extremely high level of professional independence.
In 1482, he moved into the service of the Duke of Milan. By this time Leonardo had become an independent master in painting, designing and sculpting. He produced studies on various subjects including mechanics, geometry, anatomy, advanced weapons, architecture and many more. Some of his famous paintings on canvas during the Milan period include the large altar piece – “The Virgin of the Rocks”, “Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani”, “Portrait of an Unknown Woman” and “Madonna Litta”. It was during this time that Da Vinci painted his masterpiece, “The Last Supper” for the refectory of the Dominican Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan.
In 1500, he returned to Florence and painted “Virgin and Child with St. Anne” for the Servite monastery. In 1503, Da Vinci painted one of the most renowned portraits in the world “The Mona Lisa”. The painting is well known for its strange air of wistfulness and mystical smile of the character portrayed. During 1505-1510 he created “Leda and the Swan” and the second version of “The Virgin of the Rocks”. He produced a variety of oil on canvas paintings for the Pope, including “St. John the Baptist” during the period 1513 to 1516.
In 1516, Leonardo was invited by Francis I and appointed as the Premier Painter and Engineer and Architect of the King. His last years were spent at the Château de Cloux where he died on May 2, 1519.
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