Leonardo da Vinci Biography / Autobiography / Memoir resources

Full Name: Mr. Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci
Date of Birth: April 15, 1452
Place of Birth: Anchiano, Tuscany, Italy
Died: May 2, 1519
Place of Death: Clos Lucé, France
Classification: Artists & Entertainers

BiographyShelf - famous self portrait by Leonardo da Vinci

Short Biography of Leonardo da Vinci

Known to have carried the Mona Lisa painting with him everywhere he went until it was finished, Leonardo da Vinci was to become one of the world’s most renowned painters, sculptors, inventors, philosophers, architects and brilliant thinkers of his time. While his sketches and notebooks reveal a great about his own life, a self-portrait entitled Portrait in Red Chalk and a biography written by Giorgio Vasari are all that remain of this man who was most definitely ahead of his time.

Born near Vinci, Leonardo grew up in Florence where he began sketching, drawing, and eventually painting. At age fourteen, Leonardo began an apprenticeship with Andrea del Verrocchio. However, his work was so admired that he was soon employed by the Duke of Milan from circa 1480 to 1500. Under the duke, Leonardo was to construct a huge bronze horse statue called Gran Cavallo. But, as the French soon attacked the city, the bronze had to be used for weaponry. However, his drawings and sketches of how the horse would look and be built still exist.

For a few years starting in 1513, Leonardo lived in Rome and was in rank with the greatest artists of the time, Michelangelo and Rafael. There, he was commissioned for various artistic endeavors and lived comfortable on his earnings. His wrangles with Michelangelo meant fierce artistic onslaughts and criticisms of each other’s artistic abilities. Leonardo even had Michelangelo’s Statue of David moved from its original location.

Leonardo da Vinci, according to his biography, was a man of strict moral character. Feeling at one with animals, he was an outspoken vegetarian, or by today’s standards, a vegan. He believed that animals were divine and should not be used callously by man. He thought that one day Nature would have its revenge upon man.

Although his first early work of genius was Madonna and Child, which led to his later work known worldwide as The Last Supper, Leonardo also designed court festival arenas for the Duke. He also pursued his engineering sketches and was given several apprentices to aid him in his work. 

Included in his artwork are his nearly 15,000 pages of sketches and engineering notes. He was also left-handed and mastered writing backwards then using a mirror since the use of a quill pen was difficult to ‘push’ rather than to ‘pull’. It has been stated that this also helped him to keep his works from being easily read by others who might use his inventions for malice – such as his invention of the modern tank. Designs of a robot called “Leonardo’s Robot” were not discovered until the 1950s. These sketches included drawings on how the heart would pump the blood to the muscles of the ‘created’ being. He also produced drawings and sketches of how humans could fly. By studying birds, he invented the glider, parachute, a machine that would later allow humans to fly – the helicopter.

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Selected drawings and paintings of Leonardo da Vinci

 Leonardo da Vinci painting: Female Head (La Scapigliata), c.1508.
 Leonardo da Vinci painting: The Last Supper, c.1498.
 Leonardo da Vinci painting: Vitruvian Man, c.1492.
 Leonardo da Vinci painting: Mona Lisa, c.1507.
 Leonardo da Vinci painting: Giant Catapult.
 Leonardo da Vinci painting: Testa di Giovinetta.
 Leonardo da Vinci painting: Self-Portrait, c.1515.
 Leonardo da Vinci painting: Flying Machine.
 Leonardo da Vinci painting: Sketch of a Horse.
 Leonardo da Vinci painting: The Virgin and Child with St. Anne.
 Leonardo da Vinci painting: Propeller.
 Leonardo da Vinci painting: Lady with an Ermine.