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                              Leonardo Da Vinci
         Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the greatest and most ingenious
 men that history has produced.  His contributions in the areas of art,
 science, and humanity are still among the most important that a single
 man has put forth, definitely making his a life worth knowing.
         Da Vinci, born on April 15, 1452, is credited with being a
 master painter, sculptor, architect, musician, engineer, and
 scientist.  He was born an illegitimate child to Catherina, a peasant
 girl.  His father was Ser Piero da Vinci, a public notary for the city
 of Florence, Italy.  For the first four years of his life he lived
 with his mother in the small village of Vinci, directly outside of the
 great center of the Renaissance, Florence.  Catherina was a poor
 woman, with possible artistic talent, the genetic basis of LeonardoÕs
 talents.  Upon the realization of LeonardoÕs potential, his father
 took the boy to live with him and his wife in Florence (Why did).
 This was the start of the boyÕs education and his quest for knowledge.
         Leonardo was recognized by many to be a ÒRenaissance childÓ
 because of his many talents.  As a boy, Leonardo was described as
 being handsome, strong, and agile.  He had keen powers of observation,
 an imagination, and the ability to detach himself from the world
 around him.  At an early age Leonardo became interested in subjects
 such as botany, geology, animals (specifically birds), the motion of
 water, and shadows (About Leonardo).
         At the age of 17, in about 1469, Leonardo was apprenticed as a
 garzone (studio boy) to Andrea del Verrocchio, the leading Florentine
 painter and sculptor of his day.  In VerrocchioÕs workshop Leonardo
 was introduced to many techniques, from the painting of altarpieces
 and panel pictures to the creation of large sculptural projects in
 marble and bronze.
         In 1472 he was accepted in the painterÕs guild of Florence,
 and worked there for about six years.  While there, Leonardo often
 painted portions of VerrocchioÕs paintings for him, such as the
 background and the kneeling angel on the left in the Baptism of Christ
 (Encarta).  LeonardoÕs sections of the painting have soft shadings,
 with shadows concealing the edges.  These areas are distinguished
 easily against the sharply defined figures and objects of Verrocchio,
 that reflect the style called Early Renaissance.  LeonardoÕs more
 graceful approach marked the beginning of the High Renaissance.
 However, this style did not become more popular in Italy for another
 25 year (Gilbert 46).  Leonardo actually started the popularization of
 this style.  For this reason Leonardo could be called the ÒFather of
 the High Renaissance.Ó  LeonardoÕs leading skills emerged through his
 paintings and his techniques.  LeonardoÕs talents soon drew him away
 from the Guild and in 1472 Leonardo finished his first complete
 painting, Annunciation.  In 1478 Leonardo reached the title of an
 Independent Master. His first large painting, The Adoration of the
 Magi (begun in 1481), which was left unfinished, was ordered in 1481
 for the Monastery of San Donato a Scopeto, Florence.  Other works
 ascribed to his youth are the Benois Madonna (1478), the portrait
 Ginevra deÕ Benci (1474), and the unfinished Saint Jerome (1481).
 Leonardo expanded his skills to other branches of interest and in 1481
 Leonardo wrote an astonishing letter to the Duke of Milan, Ludovico
 Sforza.  In this letter he stated that he knew how to build portable
 bridges; that he knew the techniques of constructing bombardments and
 of making cannons; that he could build ships as well as armored
 vehicles, catapults, and other war machines; and that he could execute
 sculpture in marble, bronze, and clay.
         Thus, he entered the service of the Duke in 1482, working on
 LudovicoÕs castle, organizing festivals, and he became recognized as
 an expert in military engineering and arms.  Under the Duke, Leonardo
 served many positions.  He served as principal engineer in the DukeÕs
 numerous military enterprises and was active as an architect
 (Encarta).  As a military engineer Leonardo designed artillery and
 planned the diversion of rivers.  He also improved many inventions
 that were already in use such as the rope ladder.  Leonardo also drew
 pictures of an armored tank hundreds of years ahead of its time.  His
 concept failed because the tank was too heavy to be mobile and the
 hand cranks he designed were not strong enough to support such a
         As a civil engineer, he designed revolving stages for
 pageants.  As a sculptor he planned a huge monument of the DukeÕs
 father mounted up on a leaping horse.  The Horse, as it was known, was
 the culmination of 16 years of work.  Leonardo was fascinated by
 horses and drew them constantly.  In The Horse, Leonardo experimented
 with the horses' forelegs and measurements.
         The severe plagues in 1484 and 1485 drew his attention to town
 planning, and his drawings and plans for domed churches reflect his
 concern with architectural problems (Bookshelf).  In addition he also
 assisted the Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli in the work Divina
 Proportione (1509).
         While in Milan Leonardo kept up his own work and studies with
 the possible help of apprentices and pupils, for whom he probably
 wrote the various texts later compiled as Treatise on Painting (1651).
  The most important painting of those created in the early Milan age
 was The Virgin of the Rocks.  Leonardo worked on this piece for an
 extended period of time, seemingly unwilling to finish what he had
 begun (Encarta).  It is his earliest major painting that survives in
 complete form.  From 1495 to 1497 Leonardo labored on his masterpiece,
 The Last Supper, a mural  in the refectory of the Monastery of Santa
 Maria delle Grazie, Milan.
         While painting The Last Supper, Leonardo rejected the fresco
 technique normally used for wall paintings.  An artist that uses this
 fresco method must work quickly.  Leonardo wanted to work slowly,
 revising his work, and use shadows-which would have been impossible in
 using fresco painting.  He invented a new technique that involved
 coating the wall with a compound that he had created.  This compound,
 which was supposed to protect the paint and hold it in place did not
 work, and soon after its completion the paint began to flake away.
 For this reason The Last Supper still exists, but in poor condition
 (Gilbert 46).  Leonardo had at many times merged his inventive and
 creative capabilities to enhance life and improve his works.  Although
 his experiments with plastering and painting failed, they showed his
 dissatisfaction with an accepted means and his creativity and courage
 to experiment with a new and untried idea.  Experimentation with
 traditional techniques is evident in his drawings as well.
 During LeonardoÕs 18 year stay in Milan he also produced other
 paintings and drawings, but most have been lost.  He created stage
 designs for theater, architectural drawings, and models for the dome
 of Milan Cathedral.  Leonardo also began to produce scientific
 drawings, especially of the human body.  He studied anatomy by
 dissecting human corpses and the bodies of animals.  LeonardoÕs
 drawings did not only clarify the appearance of bones, tendons, and
 other body parts but their function in addition.  These drawings are
 considered to be the first accurate representations of human anatomy.
         Leonardo is also credited with the first use of the cross
 section, a popular technique for diagramming the human body.  Leonardo
 wrote, ÒThe painter who has acquired a knowledge of the nature of the
 sinews, muscles, and tendons will know exactly in the movement of any
 limb how many and which of the sinews are the cause of it, and which
 muscle by its swelling is the cause of this sinewÕs contractingÓ
 (Wallace 131).
         In December, 1499, the Sforza family was driven out of Milan
 by French forces and Leonardo was forced to leave Milan and his
 unfinished statue of Ludovico SforzaÕs father, which was destroyed by
 French archers that used it for target practice.  Leonardo then
 returned to Florence in 1500 (Bookshelf).
         When Leonardo returned to Florence the citizens welcomed him
 with open arms because of the fame he acquired while in Milan.  The
 work he did there strongly influenced other artists such as Sandro
 Botticelli and  Piero di Cosimo.  The work he was to produce would
 influence other masters such as Michelangelo and Raphael.  In 1502
 Leonardo entered the service of Cesare Borgia, Duke of Romagna and son
 and Chief General of Pope Alexander VI.  For this post he supervised
 work on the fortress of the papal territories in central Italy.  In
 1503 he was a member of a commission of artists to decide on the
 proper location for the David by Michelangelo (Encarta).
         Towards the end of the year Leonardo began to design a
 decoration for the Great Hall of the Palazzo Vecchio.  Leonardo chose
 the Battle of Anghiari as the subject of the mural, a victory for
 Florence in a war against Pisa.  He made many drawings and sketches of
 a cavalry battle, with tense soldiers, leaping horses and clouds of
 dust.  In painting The Battle of Anghiari Leonardo again rejected
 fresco and tried an experimental technique called encaustic.  Once
 again the experiment was unsuccessful.  Leonardo went on a trip and
 left the painting unfinished.  When he returned he found that the
 paint had run and he never finished the painting.  The paintings
 general appearance is known from LeonardoÕs sketches and other
 artists' copies of it (Creighton 45).
         During the period of time that Leonardo spent painting the
 Palazzo Vecchio he also painted several other works, including the
 most famous portrait ever, the Mona Lisa.  The Mona Lisa, also known
 as La Gioconda, (after the presumed name of the modelÕs husband)
 became famous because of the unique expression on Lisa del GiocondaÕs
 face.  She appears to have just started to or finished smiling.  This
 painting was one of LeonardoÕs favorites and he carried it with him on
 all of his subsequent travels (Clark 133).
         In 1506, Leonardo returned to Milan to finished up some of his
 projects that he had to abandon during his hasty departure.  He stayed
 there until 1516 when he moved to Cloux, France, where he stayed with
 his pupil Melzi.  While in Milan he was named Court Painter to King
 Louis XII of France, who was then residing in Milan.  For the next six
 years he traveled from Milan to Florence repeatedly to look after his
 inheritance.  In 1514 he traveled to Rome under the patronage of Pope
 Leo X.  During this time LeonardoÕs energy was focused mainly on his
 scientific experiments.  He then moved to France to serve King Francis
 I.  It is here in Chateau de Cloux that he died on May 2,1519 (Wallace
         Leonardo constantly reworked his drawings, studies and
 mechanical theories. His observations of the motion of water are
 amazingly accurate.  In LeonardoÕs Studies of Water Formation, the
 flow patterns observed are swirling around , then below as it forms a
 pool.  Using modern slow motion cameras' scientists now study the same
 effects that Leonardo wrote about and observed with his naked eye
         Another study of water and wind is his Apocalyptic Visions.
 This is a collected study of hurricanes and storms.  In these highly
 detailed drawings the pen lines so carefully marked explode into
 action similar to the storms themselves.  LeonardoÕs mathematical
 drawings are also highly skilled.  In a math formula Leonardo proved
 the theory  of perpetual motion false but it still intrigued him.
 Among his vast notes were small ideas for a perpetual motion machine.
  His ideas for completing this task involved an unbalanced wheel that
 would revolve forever, conserving its energy.  However these machines
 were never constructed.  Another mathematical drawing was the
 Polyhedron.  This three dimensional figure represented proportions to
 him Ònot only in numbers and measurements but also in sounds, weights,
 positions and in whatsoever power there may beÓ (Wallace 59).
         The notebooks of Leonardo contain sketches and plans for
 inventions that  came into existence almost five-hundred years after
 the Renaissance.  Leonardo practiced a technique of writing backwards.
  It has been postulated that he did this, being left-handed, so that
 he wouldnÕt smear the ink by his left hand running across
 newly-written words.  Moreover, the individual words are spelled
 backwards.  In order to read the Notebooks one must hold the pages up
 to a mirror and it is believed by some that Leonardo did this to keep
 his writing and theories secret.  In any event, contained in the
 Notebooks are plans and drawings for what we recognize today as the
 first working propeller, a submarine, a helicopter, a tank,
 parachutes, the cannon, perpetual motion machines, and the rope
 ladder.  There are perfectly executed drawings of the human body, from
 the proportions of the full figure to dissections in the most minute
 detail.   It was observed, however, that  LeonardoÕs  interest in the
 human body and his ability to invent mechanical things were actually
 not as paramount to him as was his fascination and awe of the natural
 world (Clark 133).
         Leonardo lived to be 67 years old.  He is not known to have
 ever married or had children.  In fact, it was said of him that he
 only saw women as Òreproductive mechanismsÓ (Clark 134).
 If there is one quality that characterizes the life of Leonardo da
 Vinci it would be his curiosity for life and the world around him.
 Curiosity is the force that motivated him to observe, dissect and
 document every particle of matter that warranted his attention.  From
 babies in the womb to seashells on the beach, nothing escaped his
 relentless intellect.  The mind of Leonardo transcends the period of
 the Renaissance and every epoch thereafter.  It is universally
 acknowledged that his imagination, his powers of reason, and his sheer
 energy surpass that of any person in history.  The study of Leonardo
 is limited only by the inadequacy of the student.
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