A genius with an estimated I.Q of 220 and the most productive man in the history of mankind according to the Book of Geniuses: Leonardo Da Vinci. Leonardo di ser Piero Da Vinci was born on 15 April 1452 at the village of Vinci in the region of Florence in a small house surrounded by olive trees. His father Piero Fruosino was a young legal notary and his mother, Catherina was a slave from the Middle East with a legendary beauty.
He started to live with his grandfather after his mother had been married off to some other man. Despite he was a successful student at school he was never treated as their own by his family. When he was 14, his grand father died and he moved to Florence with his father. Having been denied access to the university because of his illegitimacy, young Leonardo was accepted as apprentice to the famous artist Andrea del Verrocchio.
The first works of Leonardo who got his first serious training in the art of painting in Verrocchio’s workshop were small caricatures. The young painter who continued his works on painting for years, also worked on human corpses in order to understand the human anatomy better. When he was not commissioned by Lorenzo Medici, The Duke of Florence for the paintings in the Sistine Chapel, he got furious and left Florence for Milan.
Leonardo, who was at the age of 30 when he set foot in Milan, knew that he would have to draw the attention of Ludovico il Moro, The Duke of Milan. But he did much more as his painting “The Last Supper” for the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie didn’t only draw the duke’s attention, but also won him the utmost respect of the pope.
A busy period started as he was employed as the chief engineer. This artist and scientist who casted bronze sculptures, designed helicopter like vehicles, invented the scissors and drew plans for underwater equipment became well known in all Italy. As Milan was captured by the French in 1499, Da Vinci wrote a letter to the Ottoman Emperor Sultan Bayezid II which expressed his wish to work under his auspices. However, his request was politely denied.
Leonardo travelled across Italy for some time and during this period he was commissioned by many aristocrats to do various works most of which were left incompleted by the artist. On his return to Florence, his door was knocked on by a French merchant named Fransisco del Gioconda who requested him to paint a picture of his wife. Da Vinci started to paint the picture of Lisa Gherardini known as Mona Lisa in 1503. The painting was completed in 4 years and the secret behind the atmospheric illusionism, perfect perspective and the enigmatic facial expression of Lisa Gherardini have never been discovered.
However, the French merchant didn’t like the painting and Leonardo Da Vinci sold the painting to the Francois I, the King of France for 13 kilogram of gold. The biggest rival of Leonardo Da Vinci was Michael Angelo. Both artist were commissioned to paint murals depicting battle scenes on two opposing walls of the City Council Chamber. Michael Angelo was the winner of this struggle known as “The war of wars” and Da Vinci moved to France. Leonardo da Vinci, who spent the last years of his life educating his apprentices had a stroke and his situation became grave.
On 2 May 1519, after writing down the line “The soul takes it too slow as it leaves the body”, he passed away. The works the great artist who was buried in the Chapel of Saint Hubert left behind still continues to fascinate the world.