Because a thesis statement drives an essay, the first decision to make is whether the essay will be informative or persuasive. Once that decision is in place, the scope of the essay needs to be considered. For example, in the case of an informative essay, a writer could focus on Leonardo's childhood, his apprenticeship at age fourteen with Verrocchio, his career as a painter, his interest in science and the natural world, or even his well-documented feud with fellow artist Michelangelo. Some examples of thesis statements for an informative essay could look like these:
- Though he received little formal education during his childhood, his apprenticeship with Verrocchio in his teens shaped Leonardo's thinking and led to his interest and accomplishments in art and many branches of science.
- Besides his renown as the painter of The Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci is remembered as a true polymath for his innovations in engineering, mathematics, chemistry and architecture.
- The feud between Leonardo and Michelangelo was fed by competition between the two artists and exacerbated by Florence's rulers.
A persuasive essay would need to present an argument, and like an informative essay, have a defined scope. Ideas for a persuasive essay could include taking a position on private ownership of Leonardo's art, how he truly epitomizes the often-overused term "genius," or the relevance of arguments as to whether the Mona Lisa and Vitruvian Man are self-portraits. Some examples of thesis statements for a persuasive essay could look like these:
- Because of their global cultural value, private ownership of the work of Leonardo da Vinci should be prohibited.
- Leonardo da Vinci epitomizes the term "genius" because of the breadth, depth and profundity of his creative contributions.
- Whether or not Leonardo incorporated personal details in the Mona Lisa and Vitruvian Man is irrelevant to their value as artifacts of Italian Renaissance culture.