Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
Log In Start studying!
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

All-in-one learning app

  • Flashcards
  • NotesNotes
  • ExplanationsExplanations
  • Study Planner
  • Textbook solutions
Start studying

Leonardo Da Vinci

Save Save
Print Print
Edit Edit
Sign up to use all features for free. Sign up now
Leonardo Da Vinci

Painter, architect, student, sculptor, inventor, thinker, scientist. All of these words describe the famous Leonardo da Vinci, a true man of the Renaissance. Keep reading to learn about why da Vinci embodies the phrase "Renaissance Man".

Renaissance Man:

Someone who does a variety of things well

Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci.Leonardo Da Vinci. StudySmarter. Portrait of Leonardo da Vinci Source: Wikimedia Commons

Leonardo da Vinci-Biography

Leonardo da Vinci was born just outside of Tuscany, Italy on April 15, 1452. He was raised by his father and his stepmother for a while before moving to Vinci to live with his uncle and grandparents.

As a boy, he received some basic schooling, learning fundamental reading, writing, and math skills. As a young teen, he went to Florence to participate in an apprenticeship under Andrea del Verrocchio. Under de Verrocchio, he learned drawing, painting, sculpting, carpentry, leather and metalworking. It was during this time that he created his earliest work, a landscape drawing of the Arno valley (1473).

Did you know? del Verrocchio completed "Baptism of Christ" in 1475. It is thought his student, Leonardo da Vinci, did some of the painting.

In 1472, da Vinci entered the painters' guild in Florence. He concurrently worked with del Verrocchio during this period. Leonardo da Vinci received his first commission in 1478 as he was picked to create a piece for the alter inside of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. After this, he was commissioned to complete the painting "Adoration of the Magi". However, da Vinci left Florence without completing either project.

Infrared reflectogram of the Adoration. Leonardo Da Vinci. StudySmarter.  of the Magi. Infrared reflectogram of the Adoration of the Magi. Source: Wikimedia Commons

In the 1480s, da Vinci began to study human and animal anatomy. He dissected both human and animal corpses. He made realistic sketches of skeletal, muscular, and vascular systems. He drew sex organs and a fetus in utero. These were some of the earliest drawings of their kind. This, in turn, made his art far more realistic.

Did you know?

Leonardo da Vinci didn't learn advanced math until he was in his thirties.

Leonardo da Vinci was a well-rounded student-he studied physics, hydraulics, aeronautics, geology, botany, and zoology. He sketched his observations on paper and later organized them into notebooks, categorized into broad topics like anatomy or architecture.

Commission

a request for an artist to create a painting, sculpture, or piece of music in exchange for money

In 1482, da Vinci moved to Milan to work for the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza. da Vinci's official title was "Painter and Engineer of the Duke". While there, he not only painted and sculpted but also worked as an architecture and military advisor and a hydraulic and mechanical engineer. During this time, he was commissioned to paint three more portraits, but they either disappeared or were never completed in the first place. He worked on The Virgin of the Rocks, an alter painting. Shortly after, he painted The Last Supper and a ceiling in the Sala delle Asse. da Vinci also worked on a sculpture to honor Francesco Sforza. He was in Milan until Sforza fell from power.

Leonardo da Vinci left Milan in 1499 as it was taken over by the French (he returned in 1506). He spent some time traveling to Mantua and then to Venice before returning to Florence.

Leonardo left Florence in 1502 to work for Cesare Borgia as a military architect and engineer. He traveled with Borgia for nearly a year, sketching city plans and crafting topographical maps.

In 1503 he returned to Florence to work on a project that involved diverting the Arno river. He also worked on the painting the Battle of Anghiari and the Mona Lisa.

In 1506, da Vinci traveled to Milan with a group of students and assistants. da Vinci was commissioned to sculpt a tomb for Gian Giacomo Trivulzio. The work was never finished.

He moved to Rome in 1513, after being given a stipend and suite to stay in by Giuliano de Medici. He brought students and assistants with him. Medici did not commission many pieces of art, which gave da Vinci the opportunity to study math and science.

In 1515 he was given the title "Premier Painter and Engineer and Architect to the King" by King Francis I. He left Rome for France, never returning to Rome. Leonardo moved to the Chateau de Cloux near the king's summer palace. He did little painting at this time.

Leonaardo da Vinci pursued his scientific studies until he died in May 1519. He was 67 years old. It is generally assumed that he died from a stroke.

Magnetic Inclination. Leonardo Da Vinci. StudySmarter. Magnetic Inclination. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Leonardo da Vinci-Inventions

Leonardo da Vinci spent a great deal of time drawing and journaling as part of his academic pursuits. His journals contain tens of thousands of pages full of his observations. He sketched pictures of military machinery and civil engineering designs. He also focused heavily on his study of anatomy

Inventions

In 1482, Lorenzo de'Medici, a Florentine ruler, commissioned da Vinci to create a silver lyre. The lyre was meant to be given to Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, as a peace offering.

Lyre

a u-shaped string instrument to be used with one's fingers

After this, da Vinci appealed to Sforza for a job. He sent Sforza a letter touting his skills as a military engineer. da Vinci sketched early war machines, like an armored tank driven by men cranking a shaft and a chariot with scythe blades on the sides. His boldness paid off-Sforza was interested in his skills and invited him to Milan. da Vinci worked there for over fifteen years.

Inventing Machines

Leonardo da Vinci used his creativity to sketch machines that resemble modern bicycles and helicopters.

One of these was a flying machine, which utilized the movement of bats in its design.

An Interpretation of da Vinci's flying machine.. Leonardo Da Vinci. StudySmarter. An Interpretation of da Vinci's flying machine. Source: Chumash11 (Wikimedia Commons) CC-BY-4.0

Military Engineer

In the early 1500s, Leonardo da Vinci worked for Cesare Borgia as a military engineer. He surveyed military projects, sketched city plans, and created topographical maps. He worked on plans to divert the Arno River from the city of Pisa.

Leonardo da Vinci-Art

Leonardo da Vinci is seen as one of the best artists in history. Throughout his lifetime, he demonstrated great skill in drawing, painting, and sculpting.

Vitruvian Man is one of these drawings. It is a drawing of a man that is known for its literal perfect proportions.

Vitruvian Man. Leonardo Da Vinci. StudySmarter. Vitruvian Man. Source: Wikimedia Commons.

Leonardo da Vinci's Paintings

One of the many things da Vinci was known for was his paintings. This is despite the fact that he actually completed very few paintings. His most famous pieces include The Last Supper and Mona Lisa. Very few of his paintings exist today.

Did you know?

Leonardo da Vinci has only been credited with painting about two dozen paintings.

Commission

a request for an artist to create a painting, sculpture, or piece of music in exchange for money

Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper

The Last Supper was commissioned in 1495 by the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza. The painting was to be completed along the back wall of the dining hall in a monastery.

The painting depicts Jesus informing the Twelve Apostles that one of them would later betray home.

It took approximately three years to complete the painting.

Did you know?

Instead of painting a fresco, da Vinci painted The Last Supper with tempera and oil paint. The painting aged quickly because it was created with these methods.

Detail of da Vinci's "The Last Supper". Leonardo Da Vinci. StudySmarter. Detail of da Vinci's "The Last Supper". Source Alberto Fernandez (Wikimedia Commons) CC-BY-2.5

Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa is one of da Vinci's most famous paintings. A private client commissioned it in 1503.

The painting is shrouded in mystery. No one exactly knows who the subject of the painting was, or who acted as a model for da Vinci. Some possible theories regarding the model include Princess Isabella of Naples and da Vinci's mother. Some think that the subject of the painting is Mona Lisa Gherardini. An early biographer of da Vinci's claimed that the subject was a woman named Lisa del Giocondo, who was married to a rich silk merchant. The Mona Lisa was never completed. He kept working on it, and in fact, never gave it back to its commissioner.

The Mona Lisa currently hangs in the Lourve Museum in Paris, France.

Mona Lisa. Leonardo Da Vinci. StudySmarter. Mona Lisa. Source: Wikimedia Commons

Leonardo da Vinci's Sculptures

Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned by Sforza to sculpt a 16-foot bronze statue of his father. da Vinci spent more than a dozen years working on this project with the support of students and apprentices. The project was never finished as it was destroyed when France overtook Milan in 1499. da Vinci fled Milan when France invaded.

Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, the leader of the French force that overtook Milan, also commissioned da Vinchi to create a similar statue. This project was never completed.

Italian Euro 2002 featuring Vitruvian Man. Leonardo Da Vinci. StudySmarter. Italian Euro 2002 featuring Vitruvian Man. Source: Mark Morgan (Wikimedia Commons) CC-BY-2.0

Leonardo da Vinci Summary

Leonardo da Vinci is the ultimate Renaissance man who was skilled in many areas! He is known for not only his artistic ability but his engineering designs and his intentions.

da Vinci was born outside Tuscany in April 1452. He went to school for a short time, learning basic math, reading, and writing skills. He became an apprentice s a young teen before joining a painters' guild. Shortly after this, he began a series of art commissions, with only some projects becoming completed.

da Vinci moved many times, moving back and forth between Milan and Florence. He also lived in Rome and Venice.

Later in life, da Vinci began studying various branches of science and engineering. He created large notebooks full of his sketches.

In addition to being a well-known artist, da Vinci was also an inventor.

Notable works of art include The Virgin of the Rocks, Mona Lisa, and The Last Supper.

Leonardo da Vinci worked until he died at the age of 67.

Leonardo Da Vinci - Key takeaways

  • da Vinci was born outside of Tuscany in 1542. He received a basic education before becoming an apprentice.
  • Despite completing only a few pieces, da Vinci was well known for his paintings. Two examples of these include the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper.
  • da Vinci was also a scupltor. During his lifetime, he was commissioned to create multiple sculptures.
  • da Vinci's legacy also includes his academic learnings. He studied multiple fields of science and engineering.
  • da Vinci was an inventor.

Frequently Asked Questions about Leonardo Da Vinci

da Vinci invented early versions of bicycles, helicopters and other flying machines. He did a lot of civil engineering design. 

da Vinci was a Renaissance painter, architect, student, sculptor, inventor, and scientist.

da Vinci was born April 15, 1452.

It is currently believed that he died from a stroke. 

da Vinci moved many times, moving back and forth between Milan and Florence. He also lived in Rome and Venice. 

Final Leonardo Da Vinci Quiz

Question

What was da Vinci's earliest work? 

Show answer

Answer

an ink drawing of the Arno Valley 

Show question

Question

True or False: da Vinci has only been credited for about two dozen paintings. 

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

Which of the following pieces of artwork is da Vinci known for? 

Show answer

Answer

Vitruvian Man

Show question

Question

How long did it take to complete "The Last supper"? 

Show answer

Answer

One year 

Show question

Question

Which word means a request for an artist to create a painting, sculpture, or piece of music in exchange for money?

Show answer

Answer

Commission

Show question

Question

Where is the "Mona Lisa" on display? 

Show answer

Answer

Lourve Museum in Paris, France

Show question

Question

Which word describes a u-shaped string instrument to be used with one's fingers?

Show answer

Answer

lyre

Show question

Question

Which of the following are examples of the machines da Vinci sketched? 

Show answer

Answer

an armored tank driven by men cranking a shaft

Show question

Question

True or false: There is a mystery surrounding the subject and model of Mona Lisa 

Show answer

Answer

True

Show question

Question

When did da Vinci die? 

Show answer

Answer

1505

Show question

More about Leonardo Da Vinci
60%

of the users don't pass the Leonardo Da Vinci quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Just Signed up?

Yes
No, I'll do it now

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.