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The life of

Leonardo da Vinci

Retrace the steps of the extraordinary life of Leonardo da Vinci, the iconic Renaissance man whose works inspired artists and scientists.
  inventor  writer  engineer  painter  architect  musician  sculptor  draughtsman
  inventor  writer  engineer  painter  architect  musician  sculptor  draughtsman
  inventor  writer  engineer  painter  architect  musician  sculptor  draughtsman
  inventor  writer  engineer  painter  architect  musician  sculptor  draughtsman
  inventor  writer  engineer  painter  architect  musician  sculptor  draughtsman
  inventor  writer  engineer  painter  architect  musician  sculptor  draughtsman
  inventor  writer  engineer  painter  architect  musician  sculptor  draughtsman

Wisdom is the daughter of experience
April 1452: in a small village in the Tuscan countryside, a child is born, the illegitimate son of a notary and a peasant girl. No one imagines that this child is destined to become one of the greatest figures in human history.
We learn of his birth almost by coincidence, thanks to a note from his grandfather Antonio who wrote down every fact about his family and his properties.
Yet it is Leonardo himself who describes his very first recollection: "One of my first childhood memories, I remember that while I was in my cradle, a kite came down to me and opened my mouth with its tail". Perhaps that is precisely the moment when the dream of flight is born.

April 15: the birth of a Genius

Leonardo is born in Anchiano, near Vinci (in the province of Florence). Illegitimate son of the notary, ser Piero and a young peasant woman. 
Leonardo spends his childhood and early adolescence in Anchiano and Vinci. He lives with his father who, in the meantime, marries Albiera degli Amadori.


After Albiera dies, he moves to Florence with his father.

Andrea Del Verrocchio

He joins the studio of Andrea del Verrocchio, much frequented by celebrated artists and young talented men where he learns to draw, paint and sculpt.

The Baptism of Christ

He takes part in the completion of an angel in the Baptism of Christ painted in the studio of his master Verrocchio.
The Baptism of Christ

First works

He is listed as a member of the company of painters of Florence or Compagnia di San Luca. It is from this date that his first independent works are placed.

The trial

Leonardo and several pupils of Verrocchio are accused of sodomy. They will all be found not guilty.

First commissions

Leonardo receives his first commissions and remuneration: the altarpiece for the chapel at Palazzo della Signoria and the altar of Palazzo Vecchio.

The Adoration of the Magi

The friars at the church of San Donato in Scopeto, near Florence, request him to paint an altarpiece for their monastery. Leonardo begins work on the Adoration of the Magi, which he never completes.
The Adoration of the Magi

Leonardo in Milan

Leaves Florence to enter the service of Ludovico Sforza "the Moor", Duke of Milan, as engineer, architect, sculptor, painter and even musician. Leonardo will spend about twenty years in Milan where he paints, draws, designs buildings and engineering works.

The Virgin of the Rocks

Signs a contract with the friars of the Immaculate Conception to paint the Virgin of the Rocks.
The Virgin of the Rocks

Sforza Monument

Starts work on “The Horse”, the equestrian monument Ludovico wanted as a tribute to his father Francesco Sforza. This monument was never finished. Leonardo made the mold casting and the colossal clay model that is said was destroyed by French crossbowmen during the occupation of Milan in 1499.

The Lady with the Ermine

Paints the portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, the picture known as Lady with the ermine. He begins to dedicate his time to various fields of technology and science such as hydraulics and anatomy. He organizes and designs scenographies for numerous court festivals.
The Lady with the Ermine

The Last Supper

Start painting the Last Supper, in the refectory of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The work will last until 1498. He also decorates the hall called "Sala delle Asse" in the Sforza Castle of Milan.
The Last Supper

De Divina Proportione

Leonardo collaborates with his close friend, the mathematician Luca Pacioli, drawing plates of three-dimensional solids for the geometry treatise De Divina Proportione.

A treatise on painting

Leonardo writes a Treatise on Painting and is dedicated on the study of forces and weights. He participates in a "scientific duel" chaired by Ludovico il Moro and receives a vineyard from the Duke.

En route

He leaves Milan in the company of Luca Pacioli a few months after French troops occupy the city.

The convent

After staying in Mantua and Venice, where he designs a defense strategy against the Turkish invasion, he returns to Florence and stays at the convent of the Servites friars of the Basilica della Santissima Annunziata.

Cesare Borgia

For several months he is in the entourage of Cesare Borgia, who requests his assistance as a military engineer while engaged in military operations in Romagna.

The Mona Lisa and the Battle of Anghiari

In Florence he begins work on the Mona Lisa. The Seigneury commissions him to create the fresco of the Battle of Anghiari, but the painting, which is made using experimental techniques, will not survive very long. In the same year he resumes his studies on flight and anatomy.
The Mona Lisa and the Battle of Anghiari

Death of Ser Piero

His father, Piero, dies at the age of 80. Leonardo continues work on the Battle of Anghiari and plans the canal project for the Arno River.

The Codex on the Flight of Birds

Leonardo is the author of the most comprehensive study on flight carried out till the 19th century, featuring theoretical and experimental investigations based on the observation of birds in flight. The code also includes instructions for building a flying machine and a sort of pilot handbook.

Returning to Milan

Returns for a three-month stay in Milan at the insistence of the French governor, Charles d'Amboise.  He is appointed as engineer and painter to King Louis XII.

Serving the King of France

King Louis XII of France wants Leonardo in his service and mentions him as "our dear and beloved Leonardo da Vinci, our painter and engineer".

Once more in Milan

He moves back to Milan to work for the French.

The anatomical studies

He works with Marcantonio della Torre, professor of anatomy. Some anatomical drawings in the Winsdor collection mention this year.

The Vatican

On September 24 he moves to Rome and stays in the Vatican, in the service of Giuliano dei Medici, brother of Pope Leo X.He continues to paint and study. He works on the Port of Civitavecchia project.

To France

He moves to France at the invitation of the new King François I and lodges in the manor of Cloux, near the Royal Castle of Amboise.

Sit tibi terra levis

On April 23 he makes his last Will and Testament, designating his pupil Francesco Melzi as heir to all his manuscripts and instruments; while leaving the paintings (including the Mona Lisa, St. Jerome and St. Anne), which still lay in his studio, to his other disciple, Salaì.He dies on May 2 and is buried in the town of Amboise, in the cloister of the church of Saint Florentin. There is no longer any trace of his remains (which would have been later moved to the chapel of Saint Hubert inside the castle) because of the desecrations of graves that would have taken place in the 16th-century Wars of Religion.