Leonardo Da Vinci 2000-07-02
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 hand cranks he designed were not strong enough to support such a vehicle. As a civil
engineer, he designed revolving stages for pageants. As a sculptor he planned a huge monument of the
Duke\'s father mounted up on a leaping horse. The Horse, as it was known, was the culmination