Leonardo da Vinci – The Life and Death of a Great Scholar

Often referred to as ‘The Father of Palaeontology, Ichnology and Architecture,’ Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian scholar who lived during The Renaissance. He also accumulated extensive knowledge in other areas, including painting, sculpture, mathematics, anatomy, engineering, astronomy, botany and writing. Da Vinci also made discoveries in civil engineering, anatomy, geology, optics and hydrodynamics which, although not published at the time, were later discovered in his notebooks.

Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452, to unmarried parents. He spent the first five years of his life with his mother, moving to live with his father’s family thereafter. Here he received an informal educated in Latin, Geometry and Mathematics. At 14, da Vinci became an apprentice to the finest artist and sculptor of the period Andrea di Cione, better known as Verrocchio. He remained with the artist for seven years, and received exposure in many other areas including metallurgy, chemistry, leather working and carpentry. By the age of 20, da Vinci had been accepted to The Guild of Saint Luke, which included doctors and artists. He subsequently set up his own workshop, with his father’s assistance.

Leonardo da Vinci continued to work with Vercocchio, however, collaborating with him on the ‘Baptism of Christ’, which was completed in 1475. It is believed that da Vinci was responsible for painting the young angel holding Jesus’ robes, as well as a part of the background. He received his first independent commission in 1478. Which was an altarpiece for a chapel located in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence. Within three years he was also commissioned to paint “Adoration of the Magi,’ by the Augustine monks.

Leaving both projects unfinished, da Vinci created a silver lyre at the request of Florentine ruler, Lorenzo de Medici. He took this as a peace gesture to Ludovico Sforza, the future Duke of Milan. Da Vinci used the opportunity to secure himself a job, as a military engineer, by writing a letter which included sketches of various war machines that could be used in battle. For the next seventeen years he continued his work in Milan, where he was also commissioned to work on various art projects including ‘The Last Supper.’ Da Vinci viewed the areas of Science and Art as intertwined, and believed that acquiring extensive knowledge of scientific ventures made him a better artist.

In 1515, the King of France, Francis I, became highly impressed with da Vinci and offered him a position as ‘Premier Painter, Engineer and Architect to the King.’ He moved to France, to reside in the Chateau de Cloux, near the king’s summer palace, until his death on May 2, 1519, at the age of 67. Da Vinci’s assistant, Melzi, became his principal heir and the executor of his estate. After his death, many notes from his journal surfaced showing that he was even more advanced in his ideas than previously recognised.

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