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Leonardo Da Vinci – The Renaissance Man

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Whenever the world talks about painting, we always remember the great painter who crafted a beautiful woman’s picture that became what the world is talking about today. It will probably remain a talk until the end of time.

Today’s story is about Leonardo da Vinci, born on 15 April 1452 in, or close to, the Tuscan hill town of Vinci; Florence was 20 miles away. He was born out of wedlock to Ser Piero da Vinci, a Florentine legal notary, and Caterina from the lower class. Leonardo only received primary and informal education in vernacular writing, reading, and mathematics, possibly because his artistic talents were recognized early, so his family decided to focus their attention there. Leonardo became an apprentice by the age of 17 and remained in training for seven years.

One of the greatest challenges faced by Leonardo was not receiving formal education and having to grow up with his separated parents. In addition, it made change location constantly as he was staying with his father’s family members.

Sometimes, background tends to discourage people with great talents, but those who choose to stay focused and determined always become extraordinary.

Leonardo’s popularity began when he received an independent commission to paint an altarpiece for the Chapel of St. Bernard in the Palazzo Vecchio, indicating his independence from Verrocchio’s studio. In 1482, Leonardo was sent as an ambassador by Lorenzo de’ Medici to Ludovico il Moro, who ruled Milan between 1479 and 1499. In 1502, Leonardo created a map of Cesare Borgia’s stronghold, a town plan of Imola in order to win his patronage. Upon seeing it, Cesare hired Leonardo as his chief military engineer and architect. Later in the year, Leonardo produced another map for his patron, one of Chiana Valley, Tuscany, to give his patron a better land overlay and greater strategic position. He created this map in conjunction with his other project of constructing a dam from the sea to Florence to allow a supply of water to sustain the canal during all seasons.

His eureka moment finally arrived when he created a small portrait known as the Mona Lisa or La Gioconda, the laughing one. The shadowy quality for which the work is renowned came to be called “sfumato,” or Leonardo’s smoke. His famous painting of the 1490s is The Last Supper, commissioned for the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria della Grazie in Milan. It represents the last meal shared by Jesus with his disciples before his capture and death and shows the moment when Jesus has just said, “one of you will betray me,” and the consternation that this statement caused. As a successful artist, Leonardo was permitted to dissect human corpses at the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence and later at hospitals in Milan and Rome. From 1510 to 1511 he collaborated in his studies with the doctor Marcantonio della Torre. Leonardo made over 240 detailed drawings and wrote about 13,000 words towards a treatise on anatomy. 

Leonardo remains eternal in the world’s mind with the Mona Lisa painting, and he’s seen as once in a lifetime talent that happens to humanity.

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