Happy Birthday to Leonardo da Vinci, born April 15th!
He was a handsome, left-handed, vegetarian animal lover who excelled in art, anatomy, architecture, engineering, geology, hydraulics, military arts, optics and sculpture. His mystique was also captured in a book and subsequent 2003 Hollywood movie called The Da Vinci Code by author Dan Brown. Who is it? It’s Leonardo da Vinci, who was born in Vinci, Italy on April 15, 1452. Best known for his painting of the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci (which literally means “Leonardo from the town of Vinci”) was a brilliant scholar and artist.
Da Vinci was the illegitimate son of a notary and a peasant girl. Although his parents split up shortly after his birth, both remarried and eventually gave Leonardo a total of 17 half sisters and brothers! As a young boy, he had access to many scholarly texts and great writings. At age 15, his father apprenticed him to artist Andrea del Verrochio in Florence, where he showed early and rapid signs of brilliance.
Along with his artistic flair, da Vinci is revered for his technological ingenuity. Centuries ahead of his time, he conceptualized a helicopter, a tank, a calculator, and brainstormed the ideas of concentrated solar power, and outlined a rough theory of plate tectonics. His smaller inventions included an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire. In his spare time, he doodled parachutes and flying machines, and wrote lengthy scientific thoughts in personal notebooks… backwards.
It’s a shame that so few of his designs were constructed or were even feasible in the 1400s. A failure by him to publish his findings meant that his grand scope of influence on many fields of study and ingenuity is not well documented by historians.
Known best as an artist, though, da Vinci is the talent behind works such as The Last Supper (1495), two different paintings with almost identical compositions called Virgin of the Rocks, or Madonna of the Rocks (1483-1486 and 1495-1508, respectively) and The Mona Lisa (1503-1506).
Leonardo da Vinci died of natural causes on May 2, 1519. It is said that he passed away as the King of France, Francis I, held da Vinci’s head in his arms.
Leonardo da Vinci left the world with a lot to ponder, and much to smile about. But one question remains: why do you think the woman in the Mona Lisa painting was smiling? Tell us in the comments section!
For other famous birthdays, check out our famous birthdays category here in the BlueMountain blog! Have a friend or loved one celebrating a birthday today? Send them a birthday eCard to show you care!