He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived.
Born out of wedlock to a notary, Piero da Vinci, and a peasant woman, Caterina, at Vinci in the region of Florence, Leonardo was educated in the studio of the renowned Florentine painter, Verrocchio. Much of his earlier working life was spent in the service of Ludovico il Moro in Milan. He later worked in Rome, Bologna and Venice, and he spent his last years in France at the home awarded him by Francis I.
Leonardo was and is renowned primarily as a painter. Among his works, the ‘Mona Lisa’ is the most famous and most parodied portrait and ‘The Last Supper’ the most reproduced religious painting of all time, with their fame approached only by Michelangelo’s ‘The Creation of Adam’.
Leonardo’s drawing of the ‘Vitruvian Man’ is also regarded as a cultural icon, being reproduced on items as varied as the euro, textbooks, and T-shirts. Perhaps fifteen of his paintings survive, the small number because of his constant, and frequently disastrous, experimentation with new techniques, and his chronic procrastination. Nevertheless, these few works, together with his notebooks, which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and his thoughts on the nature of painting, compose a contribution to later generations of artists rivalled only by that of his contemporary, Michelangelo.