Leonardo da Vinci – The man who wore more hats than any other in history was an architect, musician, artist, engineer, scientist, and inventor. Unfortunately, many of his paintings were never finished or have been lost over the years. However, those that survive are some of the most well-known works of art in the world. The Mona Lisa, The Last Supper, and the Vitruvian Man have all weathered the ages to be admired by the world. The following facts about Leonardo da Vinci provide a window into the fascinating world of a man who remains today the foremost thinker in recent history.
1. Father Of Modern Science – Inventor With Hundreds Of Ideas
Da Vinci filled dozens of notebooks and sketchbooks with ideas and inventions far ahead of his time. Some of his sketches illustrated a helicopter using a large screw for propulsion, an armored car, scissors, a cannon, machine gun, glider, moveable bridge, parachute, ladder, inflatable tube for floating in the water, and well water pump. He drew the human anatomy, maps of Europe, and equestrian statues. He invented the bicycle 300 years before a bicycle was built.
2. Leonardo Da Vinci Was An Architect, Musician, Artist, Engineer, Scientist, And Inventor
As an engineer, da Vinci designed many of the structures and public works in Milan, Italy. His scientific studies included research and discoveries in dynamics, anatomy, physics, optics, biology, hydraulics, and aeronautics.
3. Leonardo Da Vinci Typically Wrote Backwards (To Keep His Ideas Secret?)
In all of his notebooks and personal writings, Leonardo wrote backward. His writings could easily be read by placing the manuscripts in front of a mirror. It is recorded that da Vinci was left-handed, which was unusual and frowned upon in his time because of superstitions against left-handed persons. Some people believe he wrote from right to left because he did not want people to read his notes and take his inventions and ideas. Others believe he hid his scientific ideas from the Catholic faith, which might have frowned upon some of his teachings and findings. Another theory is that Leonardo wrote this way because he was left-handed, and writing from left to right with the left hand would create smudges on the paper.
4. Leonardo Da Vinci Painted The Mona Lisa, Perhaps His Most Famous Work
It is believed that the Mona Lisa was named after Lisa del Giocondo, a woman from Florence married to a wealthy merchant in the area. This was not discovered until 2005 when a librarian at the University of Heidelberg discovered a note written by Agostino Vespucci, identifying the woman in the painting as Lisa del Giocondo. After his death, Leonardo left the painting to his assistant. It was never claimed by the family of Lisa del Giocondo, who originally commissioned the painting to hang in their new home. The painting now belongs to the French government and resides at the Louvre Museum.
5. Leonardo Da Vinci Painted The Last Supper
The painting was commissioned by the Duke Ludovico Sforza and Beatrice d’Este for the family’s mausoleum. Leonardo painted it between 1495 and 1497. It depicts the moment when Jesus tells the twelve apostles that one of them will betray him. Their reactions include surprise by Bartholomew, James, and Andrew. Judas is shying away from Jesus, while Peter is angry, wielding a knife. John is sad and has a blank stare in his eyes. Thomas, James the Greater, and Philip are stunned and looking for an explanation, while Matthew, Jude Thaddeus, and Simon the Zealot converse, looking for answers. The painting remains today at the dining hall of the monastery of Santa Maria Delle Grazie in Milan, Italy.
6. Leonardo Da Vinci Regularly Dissected Human Cadavers To Discover How The Body Functioned.
His drawing of the Vitruvian Man illustrates several examples of da Vinci’s findings of the human body. For example, he discovered that the palm is the width of four fingers and that the naval is located at the body’s center point. He also determined that the length of a person’s wingspan is the same as his height, the distance from the hairline to the bottom of the chin is 10% of the person’s height, the width from shoulder to shoulder equals 25% of a person’s height, the distance from the elbow to the armpit is 12.5% of a person’s height, the length of the foot is one-sixth the person’s height, and the length of the ear is one-third of the height of a person’s face.
7. Leonardo Was Born An Illegitimate Child
Born on April 15, 1452, in Anchiano Vinci, near Florence, Leonardo da Vinci was Piero Fruosino di Antonio da Vinci, a notary, and Caterina, a peasant woman. His father raised him. Caterina and Leonardo’s father went on to marry other people and together gave 17 half-siblings to Leonardo. As a child, da Vinci constantly produced drawings that caused his father to introduce Leonardo to a well-respected painter in the area called Andrea del Verrocchio. Leonardo was extremely successful as an apprentice and outgrew his surroundings after several years of working with the artist.
8. Leonardo Da Vinci Worked For Several Years For The Duke Of Milan
Leonardo convinced the Duke of Milan to hire him in a letter he wrote, telling the Duke, Ludovico Sforza, that he could build portable bridges, cannons, ships, armored cars, catapults, and war machines. He talked of his talents in sculpting marble, bronze, and clay pieces. During his time working for the Duke of Milan, Leonardo da Vinci worked on many of the Duke’s military and architectural projects and completed The Last Supper painting for the family’s mausoleum.
9. In 1507, Leonardo Da Vinci Was Named The Court Painter For King Louis XII Or France.
During this time, Leonardo spent time in Milan and Florence, Italy, visiting his siblings and minding his inheritance from his father. From Milan, he worked on a monument sculpture for Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, a French commander. He also lived in Rome from 1514 to 1516, working for Pope Leo X. He lived in the Palazzo Belvedere and spent most of his time experimenting on scientific theories. Then, under the employment of King Francis I, he returned to France, living at the Chateau de Cloux in Amboise.
10. Leonardo Da Vinci Never Completed The Horse In Bronze, Commissioned By The Duke Of Milan
In 1482, The Duke of Milan, for whom Leonardo worked, commissioned the artist to build the largest horse sculpture out of cast bronze. Leonardo completed dozens of drawings and completed a full-scale clay model of the horse many years later. Unfortunately, fighting was afoot during that time, and bronze was in short supply. The French used the clay horse as target practice in preparation for battle. As a result, Da Vinci’s statue was never produced.
In 1999, an organization was formed to realize the initial dream from over 500 years before. It raised enough money to cast two statues of the original da Vinci design, 24 feet tall. One is located in Milan, Italy, and the other, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.