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 Leonardo Da Vinci  (1452 - 1519)

/ duh VIN-chee/
About: Leonardo Da Vinci
 

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Lived/Active: Italy/France      Known for: Religious and portrait painting, sculpture, architecture, design, geology

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BIOGRAPHY for Leonardo Da Vinci
Facts/Data
Birth
1452 (Vinci, Italy)
 
Death
1519 (Amboise, France)

Lived/Active
Italy/France


Self portrait - Self- Portrait, 1512


Often Known For
Religious and portrait painting, sculpture, architecture, design, geology

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Ser Piero d'Antonio was a notary, scion of a long line of notaries, in the little village of Vinci.  By Caterina, a woman of that village, he had a boy who was born on April 15, 1452, and named Leonardo.  The boy's parents married soon after his birth, but they did not marry each other.  Caterina was given to a peasant of the village, while Ser Piero was united with a noble lady.  The child was brought up in his father's house.  If he had been legitimate, he would have been given a typical full education in law or medicine, but happily his fate would have to be in some art, craft or trade.

When Leonardo was thirteen he was placed in the house of Andrea del Verrochio; it was a very happy choice.  In Verrochio's studio, Leonard would obtain the best education of his time, not only in art, but in independent and scientific thinking.  He remained with Verrochio for at least ten years and the two artists were a large influence on each other.  In 1472 Leonardo was accepted as a master of the Florentine guild of painters.

It is said that no other person ever approached Leonardo's tremendous range of interests, abilities and achievements.  He was a painter, sculptor, scientist and engineer, but he executed very few paintings in the course of his life.  It is remarkable that two of these works are of the same subject: "The Virgin of the Rocks".  The existence of both these paintings is a blessing, for it allows us to see the different ways in which a great artist can tackle the same theme, preserving the essential structure, yet changing the spirit greatly.

But Leonardo was far, far more than an artist.  He was an engineer. a musician, an architect, a cartographer, a mathematician.  He was an astronomer, a botanist, a zoologist, a geologist, a physiologist.  The list of his accomplishments, and his interests, is endless.  He was also a fine fencer and a superb horseman.  He improvised poetry, which he sang well playing a lute that he had made himself.  By the time he was twenty-eight he was acknowledged to be the greatest painter of his time - a period which included Michelangelo, Raphael, Botticelli.

But there was a dark, secretive side to Leonardo.  He was restless and moody and feared crowds.  He was never satisfied with his work, always blaming himself for not undertaking enough, yet breaking off commission after commission to begin some new project, which in turn remained uncompleted.  Still, Leonardo da Vinci remains one of the most gifted human being who ever lived.  Leonardo died in 1519 near Amboise, France, while at the court of Francis I.   He was sixty-seven, a ripe old age at the time.

Compiled and submitted August 2004 by Jean Ershler Schatz, artist and researcher from Laguna Woods, California.

Sources include:
The Standard Treasury of the World's Great Paintings
Metropolitan Museum of Art Miniatures: Leonardo da Vinci
"The Most Gifted Man Who Ever Lived", by Leo Rosten, from the Reader's Digest. "Worth the Wait" by Ken Shulman, ARTnews, March 1995
"The Multimillion Dollar Belle" by Andrew Decker in ARTnews, Summer 1985
"The Enigma of Genius" by A. Richard Turner in Book Review section of LA Times, Sunday, October 7, 2001

Biography from Fred R. Kline Gallery, Inc.:
Please note: Artists not classified as American in our database may have limited biographical data compared to the extensive information about American artists.

Leonardo da Vinci is considered the most multifaceted genius of the Italian Renaissance and a major influence in the history of Western Art and Culture.

Leonardo’s legendary renown as an artist has remained on the highest level from his own times to the present day in spite of his surprisingly small known body of work: traditionally some fifteen paintings and less than seventy sketches and drawings relating to those paintings; of those drawings, only a small percentage might be considered more finished preparatory studies.  However, some 4,000 drawings of one kind and another are integrated into his Notebooks and speak of his mastery of the medium.  The incomparable quality of Leonardo’s artistic body of work and the creative vigor of his scientific intellect have combined to idealize him as the classic Renaissance Man.

Among Leonardo’s works of art, no paintings or drawings are signed, no painting is dated, and only one date exists on a single early drawing.  Authentication of authorship and dating of his artistic work is totally based on individual connoisseurship---educated opinion that is necessarily subjective and merged with some scientific objectivity.

The accumulated knowledge of Leonardo’s body of artistic work is altogether tied to individually perceived evidence from: the actual works, their comparative relationships, a few documents, and not least of all his voluminous Notebooks of scientific, philosophical, and general observations.  Strangely, among the many thousands of Notebook pages, there is only one ambiguous dated entry that speaks of his artistic activity.

It is little wonder that authorship and dating questions can occupy scholars for a lifetime.  Discoveries of new works over the last 100 years have been rare and controversial, and even a firm attribution to Leonardo connected to a discovery has rarely found consensus among scholars.

With Leonardo, it can be said, there is always a question coming up and going down with the sun, although he emphatically stated in his Notebooks that “The sun does not move.”  Like other great historical figures, Leonardo appears after 500 years as a very bright presence but difficult to see.  To “look again” is to see Leonardo da Vinci hiding in plain sight.

Selected Bibliography:

Sigmund Freud. “Leonardo da Vinci: A Memory of His Childhood” (Trans. Alan Dyson). London, 1910
Kenneth Clark."Leonardo da Vinci". Cambridge, 1939
A.E. Popham."The Drawings of Leonardo da Vinci". New York, 1945
Jane Roberts. “A Dictionary of Michelangelo’s Watermarks”. Milan, 1988
Martin Kemp. “Leonardo da Vinci: The Marvelous Works of Nature and Man”. London, 1989.
Leo Steinberg. “The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion”. Chicago,1996.
David Alan Brown. "Leonardo da Vinci: Origins of a Genius". New Haven, 1998.
Rubin, Wright, & Penny. "Renaissance Florence: The Art of the 1470s". Catalogue associated with the Exhibition. National Gallery, London, 1999
Leo Steinberg. “Leonardo’s Incessant Last Supper”. New York, 2001
Carmen C. Bambach, Editor. "Leonardo Da Vinci, Master Draftsman". Catalogue associated with the Exhibition. Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 2003
Frank Zollner. “Leonardo da Vinci 1452-1519: The Complete Paintings and Drawings” [with commentaries on the drawings by Johannes Nathan and Frank Zollner]. Cologne, 2003
Charles Nicholl. “Leonardo da Vinci, Flights of Mind”. New York, 2004
Dario Covi & L. S. Olschki. "Andrea del Verrocchio: Life and Work". Florence, 2005
Fred R. Kline. “Leonardo’s Lost Holy Child”. Santa Fe, 2009 [www.klinegallery.com-"Selected Works"]


Submitted by Fred R. Kline, Fred R. Kline Gallery & Kline Art Research Associates, Santa Fe, NM

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