April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519
If there ever was a renaissance man, it had to be Leonardo da Vinci. He was a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer. He is considered by many to be the most diversely talented person ever to have lived. In her book Art through the Ages, art historian Helen Gardener said of Leonardo: “The scope and depth of his interests were without precedent. His mind and personality seem to us superhuman.”
Many people are still amazed by Leonardo’s technological ingenuity. He envisioned a helicopter, a tank and a calculator. He also came up with an idea for solar power. Unfortunately, very few of his designs were feasible to develop during his lifetime.
Leonardo also was a remarkable scientist. He greatly advanced the state of knowledge in the fields of anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and hydrodynamics. Yet, for all his accomplishments as a scientist and inventor, Leonardo’s greatest fame came from his art. One of his paintings, the Mona Lisa, is the most famous and recognized image in the world.
Leonardo began painting the Mona Lisa in 1503 while still living in Italy, but he did not finish it until shortly before his death in France in 1519, which probably accounts for the fact that the painting has been the property of the French government almost from the time it was completed. King Francois I of France bought the painting following Leonardo’s death. After the French Revolution in 1798, the painting was moved to the Louvre Museum in Paris, and, except for a brief stay in the palace of Napoleon I, that’s where she has been ever since.
A FEW FACTS ABOUT LEONARDO
- He was born in Vinci, Italy
- He lived from April 15, 1452 to May 2, 1519
- He was the son of Ser Piero di Antonio and Caterina
- He received his education as an apprentice to Andrea del Verrocchio
A FEW FACTS ABOUT MONA LISA
- The person in the painting was believed to be Mona Lisa del Gioconda
- She was believed to be 24 years old at the time Leonardo began the painting
- Leonardo started to work at this painting in 1503
- He spent four years on the portrait at first, then kept making changes in it for more than a decade.
- He took the painting with him wherever he went.
- He never sold the portrait in his lifetime.
- August 22, 1911, the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre but soon recovered
THE MOST PARODIED PAINTING IN HISTORY
Because of the Mona Lisa’s overwhelming stature, other artists, illustrators, photographers and film-makers have created literally thousands of modifications and caricatures that parody the original painting. In 1919, Marcel Duchamp, an influential Dadaist, created a famous Mona Lisa parody by adorning a cheap reproduction with a moustache and a goatee. In 1963 pop artist Andy Warhol created serigraph prints of the Mona Lisa similar to those of other pop icons like Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley.
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