Why is Leonardo da Vinci so historically important?

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Leonardo da Vinci is primarily famous as a Renaissance artist. He is especially remembered for two works of art: Mona Lisa and The Last Supper. However, he is also important as an overall genius, with interests that included anatomy, many other branches of science, architecture, and technology. He also liked to invent mechanical devices. Some people argue that he invented the airplane (or an early prototype of it) and an early version of the tank. 

Leonardo da Vinciis also famous as perhaps the most important example of what is called a  "Renaissance man." He lived in the 1400s and 1500s, the period known as the Renaissance. This was a time in which interest in classical learning from the Greeks and the Romans flourished. Also, an interest in rationality and the scientific method began to come to the forefront of human thought in this period. A "Renaissance man," however, is more than simply someone who lived in the Renaissance. Such a person has a wide range of interests and accomplishments across many different fields of study. Leonardo, an exemplary Renaissance man, did not allow himself to be boxed into one narrow field of study. We admire him for the range of his ideas and activities. 

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