Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci, commonly known as Leonardo da Vinci, is probably the most famous representative of the Renaissance, due to his interest and work in many fields. He was considered a polymath or true Renaissance man because his genius allowed him to work in domains like painting, sculpting, music, architecture, science, mathematics, engineering, geology, anatomy, cartography and botany. He was also a writer and inventor, so it’s easy to see why he was and is thought to be the ideal Renaissance humanist. His imagination, intelligence and hard work led him to create spectacular wonders that amaze scholars to this day.
Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 15, 1453 and died at the age of 67, on May 2, 1519. He is perhaps best known for his paintings, which include the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, the Vitruvian Man and Lady with an Ermine. Leonardo was a true visionary and his sketches and plans often included imaginary flying machines that resemble today’s helicopters or airplanes. His interests were many and his achievements to measure. Born by an unwed peasant woman, Leonardo acquired most of his education while an apprentice for famous painter Verrocchio. For the better part of his life, Leonardo da Vinci worked in various Italian cities like Milan, Rome, Venice and Bologna, though his last years were spent in France in a home received from Francis I.
Although he worked almost continuously and probably produced many paintings, only some fifteen of his paintings have remained for posterity due to the fact that he constantly experimented with techniques and he himself destroyed what was not satisfactory. Leonardo da Vinci was such a visionary that his sketches and drawings include the concepts of a helicopter, a calculator, a tank, solar power and many others. He also foresaw the existence of tectonic plates and he made many discoveries in the fields of optics, hydrodynamics, anatomy and civil engineering, but since he didn’t publish them they didn’t get the chance to have an influence on the development of these sciences.
Leonardo da Vinci also worked for some of the important men of the period, accomplishing various commissions for them. Thus, he worked a while for reputed nobleman Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan and, later on, for Pope Alexander VI’s son, Cesare Borgia, as military architect. Da Vinci’s works spanned many years and many sciences and fields and, though not all of his work remains to posterity, his accomplishments and contributions to the modern world are invaluable.