Renaissance Art & Artists
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Leonardo da Vinci

Isaac Newton Portrait

Leonardo da Vinci is one of the most recognizable faces of the Italian Renaissance. He is celebrated as a genius in the worlds of science and art. The sketches of Leonardo da Vinci are as extravagant as anything modern-day writers of science fiction can come up with. The flying objects, armored vehicles and adding machines he routinely brought to life with his pen are years ahead of the period the artist lived in. Of course, his accomplishments as a painter alone would be enough to earn him a spot in the history books until the end of time. The humble origins of Leonardo da Vinci begin in a town called Vinci in the Republic of Florence. He was born out of wedlock to a peasant woman in 1452. He informally studied Latin, geometry and mathematics during his childhood. He became the apprentice of an artist named Andrea di Cione when he was 14 years old. It was during this period that the man who would become known as an artistic genius was exposed to a variety of theoretical ideas and technical skills.

The Early Career of a Genius

Most scholars credit Baptism of Christ with being the first of da Vinci's paintings to earn him widespread attention. He then entered a period of productivity that resulted in famous works like St. Jerome in the Wilderness and Virgin on the Rocks.

The Creation of Iconic Works

Leonardo da Vinci had become an unstoppable force by 1490. It was during the following decade that he produced The Last Supper. He would go on to create Mona Lisa in the decade after that. The fame of da Vinci was so large by this point in time that royals and nobles delighted in being in his company. He also spent time in the company of contemporaries like Raphael and Michelangelo.

The Later Years

Leonardo lived primarily in the Belvedere in the Vatican between 1513 and 1516. He did so under the permission of Pope Leo X. He was notably present for the meeting between King Francis I of France and Pope Leo X that took place in Bologna following France's capture of Milan. The artist and the French king formed a friendship that would last until da Vinci's death in May of 1519. Some stories even claim that the king held da Vinci in his arms as he took his final breath. The body of Leonardo da Vinci was buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert in Château d'Amboise in France. His will requested that 60 beggars follow his casket during his funeral.

A Man of the Renaissance

It is easy to argue that Leonardo da Vinci was the most accomplished and ambitious artist to emerge during the Renaissance. His unique techniques for laying paint on canvas are still being studied to this day. His detailed knowledge of human anatomy brought a dimension of realism to his work that perfectly represented the humanistic ideals of the Renaissance. He was a master at conveying the way humans register emotion through their expressions and gestures.

Masterpieces of Renaissance Art

  • The Mona Lisa
  • The Last Judgement
  • The Last Supper
  • David
  • The Vitruvian Man
  • Pieta
  • Sistine Chapel Ceiling
  • The Virgin and Child with St Anne
  • The Creation of Adam
  • Bacchus and Ariadne
  • David by Donatello
  • Galatea
  • Mars and Venus
  • Sacred and Profane Love
  • Sistine Madonna
  • The Assumption of the Virgin
  • The Bacchanal of the Andrians
  • The Birth of Venus
  • The School of Athens
  • Venus of Urbino
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