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Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci

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The Mona Lisa


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Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci. He has been described as the archetype of the "Renaissance man", a man infinitely curious and equally inventive. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time.

The life and work of the great Italian Renaissance artist and scientist Leonardo da Vinci have roved endlessly fascinating for later generations. What most impresses people today, perhaps, is the immense scope of his art and art theory. Leonardo's equally impressive contribution to science is a modern discovery, having been preserved in a vast quality of notes that became widely known only in the 20th century.

LIFE

Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452, near the town of Vinci, not far from Florence. He was the illegitimate son of a Florentine notary, Piero da Vinci, and a young woman named Caterina. His artistic talent must have revealed itself early, for he was soon appreciated (c.1469) to Andrea Verrocchio, a leading renaissance master. In this versatile Florentine workshop, where a variety of skills. He entered the painter's guild in 1472, and his earliest extant works date from this time. In 1478 he was commissioned to paint and altarpiece for the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. Three years later he undertook to paint Adoration of the Magie for the monastery of San Donato a Scopeto. This project was interrupted when Leonardo left Florence for Milan about 1482. Leonardo worked for Duke Lodovico Sforza in Milan for nearly 18 years. Although active as court artist, painting portraits, designing festivals, and pro jecting a colossal equestrian monument in sculpture to the duke's father, Leonardo became deeply interested in non-artistic matters during this period. He applied his growing knowledge of mechanics to his duties as a civil and military engineer, biology, mathematics, and physics. These activities, however, did not prevent him for completing his single most important painting, The Last Supper.

With the fall (1499) of Milan to the French, Leonardo left that city to seek employment elsewhere: he went first to Mantua and Venice, but by April 1500 he was back in Florence. His stay there was interrupted by time spent working in central Italy. as a mapmaker and military engineer for Cesare Borgia. Again in Florence in 1503. Leonardo undertook several highly significant artistic projects, including the Battle of Anghiari mural for the council chamber of the Town Hall, the portrait of Mona Lisa and the lost and the Swan. At the same time his scientific interests deepened: his concern with anatomy led him to perform dissections, and undertook a systematic study of the flight of birds.

Leonardo returned to Milan in June 1506, called there to work for the new French government. Except for a brief stay in Florence (1507-08), he remained in Milan for seven years. The artistic project on which he focused at this time was the equestrian monument to Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, which, like the Sforza monument earlier, was never completed. Meanwhile, Leonardo's scientific research began to dominate his other activities, so much so that his artistic gifts were directed toward scientific illustration; through drawing he sought to convey his understanding of the structure of things. In 1513 he accompanied Pope Leo X's brother, Giuliano de'Medici, to Rome, where he stayed for three years, increasingly absorbed in theoretical research. In 1516-17, Leonardo left Italy forever to become architectural advisor to King Francis I of France, who greatly admired him. Leonardo died at the age of 67 on May 2, 1519, at Cloux, near Ambroise, France.

Masterpiece

The Mona Lisa, Oil Painting, 77 x 53 cm (30 x 20 7/8 in) (Louvre, Paris), also known as La Gioconda, is a portrait of the wife of Francesco del Giocondo, painted by Leonardo da Vinci between 1503 and 1505. This figure of a woman dressed in the Florentine fashion of her day and seated in a visionary,mountainous landscape, is a remarkable instance of Leonardo's sfumato technique of soft, heavily shaded modeling. Sfumato is the famous invention of Da Vinci - light and shade that allow one form to blend in with another leaving something to the imagination. He did this to the corners of Mona Lisa' mouth and eyes which explains why she may look different and different times. The Mona Lisa's enigmatic expression, which seems both alluring and aloof, has given the portrait universal fame.

 

 


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