Little Bits of History


Posted in History by patriciahysell on April 15, 2011

Leonardo da Vinci

April 15, 1452: Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci is born. He was the son of Piero da Vinci, a local notary or lawyer. His mother was a peasant woman name Caterina and she was not married to his father. Leonardo was a polymath, meaning he was interested in a variety of topics. He was a painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. He was the archetype of the Renaissance Man. He is considered one of the greatest painters of all time and in addition was one of the most diversely talented people, as well.

Leonardo lived in a small town of Anchiano with his mother until he was five. He moved to his father’s house in 1457. At his father’s house, he was informally educated in Latin, geometry, and mathematics. He was not a particularly apt student. At age fourteen, he was apprenticed to a Florentine painter, Andrea di Cione, and known as Verrocchio. This studio was “one of the finest in Florence.” Other renowned artists were also trained there. It was here he was exposed to many other intellectual ideas and pursuits. By age 20, Leonardo qualified as a master in the Guild of St. Luke, the guild for artists and doctors.

In 1478, Leonardo received his first independent commission from the Monks of San Donato a Scopeto. By the early 1480s, Lorenzo de Medici had lured Leonardo to Milan. He wrote a famous letter to the Duke of Milan offering himself as an engineer and mentioning that he also painted. Leonardo spent many years in Milan and created beautiful works of art. However, in 1499 war broke out and he left the region for Venice. In 1502 he drew a map of Cesare Borgia’s stronghold and won his patronage. This map making was a new idea and proved useful. Leonardo moved around Italy, and worked with many influential personages.

In 1515, France recaptured Milan, Italy. Leonardo was a mediator at a meeting between Pope Leo X and the French monarch, Francis I. Francis hired Leonardo to create a mechanical lion which could walk forward, then open its chest to reveal a cluster of lilies. He was in France, working on this project when he died on May 2, 1519. By this time, he had become a great friend of the king’s who was with him as he died. He was 67 years old.

“Shadow is not the absence of light, merely the obstruction of the luminous rays by an opaque body. Shadow is of the nature of darkness. Light is of the nature of a luminous body; one conceals and the other reveals.”

“We, by our arts may be called the grandsons of God.”

“Men born in hot countries love the night because it refreshes them and have a horror of light because it burns them; and therefore they are of the colour of night, that is black. And in cold countries it is just the contrary.”

“As a well-spent day brings happy sleep, so life well used brings happy death.” – all from Leonardo da Vinci

Also on this day:
Going for the Gold – In 1896 the first Modern Olympic Games come to an end.
Cartography – in 1924, Rand McNally published its first atlas.

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One Response

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  1. GYSC said, on April 16, 2011 at 5:51 pm

    Very nice. I bet this post got monster hits.

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