Biography (Dictionary of World Biography: Renaissance)
Article abstract: Leonardo da Vinci was the most outstanding painter of the Italian Renaissance; some authorities consider him the best painter and draftsman of all time. In addition, he made a number of discoveries in botany, anatomy, mechanical engineering, and medicine which were unprecedented and unparalleled until the twentieth century.
Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452, the illegitimate son of Piero da Vinci, descendant of a long line of Florentine minor officials, and a local woman known only as Caterina. Nevertheless, he was reared as a member of his father’s household, first in Vinci and then in Florence; a notarized attestation of his birth by his grandfather signifies his family’s recognition of him and of its responsibilities toward him. Still, there are few documented facts about his early life. Further, since the first biography of him—by the historian Giorgio Vasari—appeared only some thirty years after his death, conjectural reconstructions have flourished.
Leonardo himself recorded only one event from his childhood, recalled years later, when he was compiling notes on the flight of birds in his notebooks. He simply comments that he was probably fated to write about the flight of kites “because in the earliest memory of my childhood it seemed to me that as I lay in my cradle a kite came down to me and opened my mouth with its tail and struck me with its tail...
(The entire section is 2430 words.)
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Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Leonardo da Vinci (lay-oh-NAHR-doh dah VEEN-chee), the illegitimate but not unacknowledged son of Piero da Vinci, was born in 1452. Little is known of his childhood before his father took him to Florence to be the pupil of Andrea del Verrochio in 1469. Sigmund Freud seized upon one of the few autobiographical references in Leonardo’s notebooks—a dream he experienced as a child of a kite sticking its tail in his mouth—to hypothesize a possible childhood and furnish the foundation for a repressed homosexuality he was convinced had played an important role in Leonardo’s creative process and achievement. The absence in general of any relevant information about Leonardo’s personal life and his reticence to speak of it in his notebooks have left him open to speculation and to such myth makers as Giorgio Vasari, who have endeavored to make Leonardo as superhuman and mysterious as his art. Perhaps it was this self-imposed isolation that enabled him to perceive, as he seemed to do, the universal order that was manifest in every living thing.
In 1472, Leonardo was admitted to the painters’ guild in Florence and about that time painted The Annunciation and the angel on Verrochio’s Baptism of Christ. This period of apprenticeship was also a time in which he learned about architecture, sculpture, and metal working. In 1482, approximately, Leonardo offered his services to Ludovico Sforza (“Il Moro”) and went to Milan, not as an...
(The entire section is 833 words.)
IntroductionOne of the greatest figures of the High Renaissance was Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519), a painter, sculptor, engineer, and scientist. He began his career as a painter in Florence, then worked in Milan and Rome before moving permanently to France during his final years. He also served as a military engineer while working as an artist. Leonardo produced many paintings, but only a few have survived. -- Leonardo Da Vinci, Renaissance and Reformation Almanac
(b Anchiano or Vinci, 15 Apr. 1452; d chateau of Cloux, nr. Amboise, 2 May 1519). Florentine artist, scientist, and thinker, the most versatile genius of the Italian Renaissance and one of the most revered and influential of all painters. Leonardo was born in or near the small town of Vinci, a day's journey from Florence. His father was a notary, and Leonardo was his illegitimate son by a peasant girl. Vasari's biography and other early sources testify that he was blessed with remarkable beauty and charm as well as an extraordinary mind. -- Oxford Dictionary of Art
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci - Cyclopedia of World Authors
Renaissance and Reformation Biographies
Leonardo da Vinci - Renaissance and Reformation
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