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Leonardo da Vinci

Self-portrait by Leonardo da Vinci, made in 1512Self-portrait by Leonardo da Vinci, made in 1512Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) was an Italian painter, sculptor, architect, inventor, engineer, scientist, anatomist, geologist, mapmaker, botanist and writer. Leonardo has been described as a Renaissance Man, a person who is brilliant at many different things, a characteristic of a number of great figures of the Italian Renaissance especially, including Leonardo's great rival Michelangelo. Leonardo's early life was spent in Florence, before he went to work in Milan. He later worked in Florence and Rome, before ending his days in France. Widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time, only about 15 of his paintings survive today—both because he was a slow worker, but also as a result of failed experiments with different techniques.

Baptism of Christ by Verrocchio, aided by LeonardoBaptism of Christ by Verrocchio, aided by Leonardo

Early life

Leonardo da Vinci was born on 15th April 1452 in the small hill town of Vinci in Tuscany, Italy. His parents were not married, as his father was a wealthy lawyer and his mother a peasant girl. His birth name, Lionardo di ser Piero, means that he was the son of (mes)ser Piero, the "ser" indicating that his father was a gentleman. 

Aged 14, Leonardo became an apprentice to the artist and sculptor Verrocchio. In his workshop Leonardo learned to paint as well as acquiring many technical skills. In 1478 he left Verrocchio’s studio and was given a job to paint an altarpiece, although the work was left unfinished.

Leonardo had no surname: "da Vinci" simply means he came from the town of Vinci.

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