Famous Artists: Leonardo da Vinci for Children
Born on April 15, 1452 in Vinci, Italy, Leonardo da Vinci started as young as 14 as an apprentice to an artist in Florence, named Andrea de Verrochio. Although he is best known for his beautiful and mysterious paintings, Leonardo was an inventor, scientist, architect, designer, and engineer.
Leonardo’s most famous and loved artwork is perhaps the Mona Lisa (picture above), also known as La Gioconda. Until today, people are debating the subject of this painting. Most people believe that the portrait is of Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, while a few people think that it is Leonardo’s self-portrait as a woman. Contrary to popular belief, Leonardo completed very few paintings in his lifetime. Some of the paintings are recognized to be of other artists, where Leonardo was claimed to have contributed his talent. This is said to be a common practice amongst artists during the Renaissance era. However, Leonardo did complete many more drawings and studies but unfortunately some of his works are missing. Another one of his amazing paintings, “Virgin of the Rock” took 25 years to complete. It was a subject of huge argument concerning the original agreement. Leonardo eventually was paid for his hard work after going through many complications.
Leonardo studied in various scientific fields, such as physics, dynamics and hydraulics. He also studied the human anatomy, biology, optics, and aeronautics. Leonardo invented many things that were considered very advanced during the Renaissance, such as a canal system for irrigation and transportation in Milan, a movable bridge for the Duke of Milan, and detailed maps of Europe. Leonardo designed many things that he never saw made, such as a machine gun, a cannon, gliders, ladders for climbing castle walls, water pumps, and even the parachute. Other things that he invented or designed are a machine to make concave mirrors, a revolving stage for plays and pageants, and he created an inflatable tube so that people can float in the water. One must not forget that he also drew the first precise illustration of the human anatomy - to improve his knowledge, Leonardo performed autopsies on corpses.
Leonardo resided in the Vatican, not for religious studies but for his science experiments. One of Leonardo’s greatest paintings, The Last Supper, is a testimony to his sincere faith and belief in Christianity.
Although he was known as a man who was gracious and kind-hearted, Leonardo also had a few quirks. During his lifetime, he wrote many of his notes using mirror writing - written so that you can only read it in a mirror. It is said that he started writing in such a way since he was very young - why don't you try it too! Leonardo da Vinci - a real rennaissance man - died on May 2, 1519, at the age of 67.
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One in a series of articles about Art History written for children.
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