He was born on April 15, 1452, at 3 in the morning to a pair of unmarried people.
Little is known about his first 5 years, but we know that by the age of five, he was living at his grandfather's house in the small town of Vinci, about 20 miles away from Florence.
His uncle Francesco became his main guardian and friend soon after he started living in Vinci. Francesco was described as lazy and good for nothing.
Showing an Interest in art-
Early on in life, Leonardo showed a talent for drawing. He was apprenticed to the artist Andrea del Verrochio. Leonardo and his trainer soon became good friends.
At the age of 20, between 1482 and 1499, Leonardo was in the service of the Duke of Milan, since the ruler of nearby Florence didn't like art much.
Leonardo also became interested in human anatomy; he cut up dead people to find out about the human body. This got him expelled from the painters’ guild.
(Leonardo da Vinci; by Laura Layton Strom)
The Last Supper-
Leonardo's stylistic innovations are even more apparent in The Last Supper, in which he re-created a traditional theme in an entirely new way. Instead of showing the 12 apostles as individual figures, he grouped them in dynamic compositional units of three, framing the figure of Christ, who is isolated in the center of the picture.
Seated before a pale distant landscape seen through a rectangular opening in the wall, Christ—who is about to announce that one of those present will betray him—represents a calm nucleus while the others respond with animated gestures.
In the monumentality of the scene and the weightiness of the figures, Leonardo reintroduced a style pioneered more than a generation earlier by Masaccio, the father of Florentine painting.
Leonardo Da Vinci; by Kathleen Tracy
The Mona Lisa-
The Mona Lisa, Leonardo's most famous work, is as well known for its mastery of technical innovations as for the mysteriousness of its legendary smiling subject.
This work is a consummate example of two techniques—sfumato and chiaroscuro—of which Leonardo was one of the first great masters. Sfumato is characterized by subtle, almost infinitesimal transitions between color areas, creating a delicately atmospheric haze or smoky effect; it is especially evident in the delicate gauzy robes worn by the sitter and in her enigmatic smile.
Chiaroscuro is the technique of modeling and defining forms through contrasts of light and shadow; the sensitive hands of the sitter are portrayed with a luminous modulation of light and shade, while color contrast is used only sparingly.
Leonardo's many extant drawings, which reveal his brilliant draftsmanship and his mastery of the anatomy of humans, animals, and plant life, may be found in the principal European collections; the largest group is at Windsor Castle in England.
Probably his most famous drawing is the magnificent Self-Portrait.
Leonardo produced only a dozen paintings in his entire life, yet two of them are among the most famous works in the history of art.
(Leonardo Da Vinci; by Margaret Hall)
Ideas about the Universe
Da Vinci helped revolutionize science. And sometimes he just dreamed up fanciful concepts. Always, he thought in ways no one else had.
Da Vinci sure liked mirror writing: most of his journals are scrawled in reverse.
Da Vinci modeled his perfect human form after the proportions laid out by Vitruvius, an ancient Roman architect. The angry-looking man drawn by Da Vinci has reason to smile - he's now considered one of the most recognizable figures on earth.
On May 2, 1519, Leonardo died and was buried in Saint-Forentine in Amboise. Yet even in death, the artist's travels were not ended. During the Wars of Religion Leonardo's remains were moved several times. Eventually he was buried in the Chapel of St. Hubert in the castle of Amboise.
Leonardo da Vinci was an artist, a musician, a philosopher, an engineer, a botanist, an anatanomist, a mathematician and a humanitarian. He did not believe in life after death and he did not agree with the teachings of the church. He was generous but suspicious. He questioned everything around him and excelled at everything he undertook.
He spent 30 years keeping meticulous records and journals documenting his experiments and designs. "Vassari observes with reference to Leonardo's writings, "he wrote backwards in rude characters, and with the left hand, so that anyone who is not practiced in reading them, cannot understand them."" He did not number the five thousand pages he documented but was adamant that each observation or experiment documented be completed on the page it was begun. Leonardo took great pains to finish his notebooks. Yet, in contrast to his scientific studies, this artist who epitomizes the Renaissance left much of his artistic endeavors unfinished.