da vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci
By: richard lativ

Leonardo Da Vinci Leonardo Da Vinci is one of the greatest and most
ingenious men that history has produced. His contributions in the areas of art,
science, and humanity are still among the most important that a single man has
put forth, definitely making his a life worth knowing. Da Vinci, born on April
15, 1452, is credited with being a master painter, sculptor, architect,
musician, engineer, and scientist. He was born an illegitimate child to
Catherina, a peasant girl. His father was Ser Piero da Vinci, a public notary
for the city of Florence, Italy. For the first four years of his life he lived with
his mother in the small village of Vinci, directly outside of the great center of
the Renaissance, Florence. Catherina was a poor woman, with possible
artistic talent, the genetic basis of Leonardo’s talents. Upon the realization of
Leonardo’s potential, his father took the boy to live with him and his wife in
Florence (Why did). This was the start of the boy’s education and his quest
for knowledge. Leonardo was recognized by many to be a "Renaissance
child" because of his many talents. As a boy, Leonardo was described as
being handsome, strong, and agile. He had keen powers of observation, an
imagination, and the ability to detach himself from the world around him. At
an early age Leonardo became interested in subjects such as botany,
geology, animals (specifically birds), the motion of water, and shadows
(About Leonardo). At the age of 17, in about 1469, Leonardo was
apprenticed as a garzone (studio boy) to Andrea del Verrocchio, the leading
Florentine painter and sculptor of his day. In Verrocchio’s workshop
Leonardo was introduced to many techniques, from the painting of
altarpieces and panel pictures to the creation of large sculptural projects in
marble and bronze. In 1472 he was accepted in the painter’s guild of
Florence, and worked there for about six years. While there, Leonardo often
painted portions of Verrocchio’s paintings for him, such as the background
and the kneeling angel on the left in the Baptism of Christ (Encarta).
Leonardo’s sections of the painting have soft shadings, with shadows
concealing the edges. These areas are distinguished easily against the sharply
defined figures and objects of Verrocchio, that reflect the style called Early
Renaissance. Leonardo’s more graceful approach marked the beginning of
the High Renaissance. However, this style did not become more popular in
Italy for another 25 year (Gilbert 46). Leonardo actually started the
popularization of this style. For this reason Leonardo could be called the
"Father of the High Renaissance." Leonardo’s leading skills emerged through
his paintings and his techniques. Leonardo’s talents soon drew him away
from the Guild and in 1472 Leonardo finished his first complete painting,
Annunciation. In 1478 Leonardo reached the title of an Independent Master.
His first large painting, The Adoration of the Magi (begun in 1481), which
was left unfinished, was ordered in 1481 for the Monastery of San Donato a
Scopeto, Florence. Other works ascribed to his youth are the Benois
Madonna (1478), the portrait Ginevra de’ Benci (1474), and the unfinished
Saint Jerome (1481). Leonardo expanded his skills to other branches of
interest and in 1481 Leonardo wrote an astonishing letter to the Duke of
Milan, Ludovico Sforza. In this letter he stated that he knew how to build
portable bridges; that he knew the techniques of constructing bombardments
and of making cannons; that he could build ships as well as armored vehicles,
catapults, and other war machines; and that he could execute sculpture in
marble, bronze, and clay. Thus, he entered the service of the Duke in 1482,
working on Ludovico’s castle, organizing festivals, and he became recognized
as an expert in military engineering and arms. Under the Duke, Leonardo
served many positions. He served as principal engineer in the Duke’s
numerous military enterprises and was active as an architect (Encarta). As a
military engineer Leonardo designed artillery and planned the diversion of
rivers. He also improved many inventions that were already in use such as the
rope ladder. Leonardo also drew pictures of an armored tank hundreds of
years ahead of its time. His concept failed because the tank was too heavy to
be mobile and the