Our Artists

Leonardo da Vinci

Genius, great inventor, scholar, multidisciplinary artist... all these words apply to Leonardo da Vinci. A key figure of the Renaissance, alongside Michelangelo and Raphael, his works illustrate a perpetual search for perfection and are at the crossroads of art, science and humanism.


Early days in Florence (1452-1482)

Leonardo da Vinci was born near Florence and began his apprenticeship in the studio of the painter del Verrocchio, at the age of 12. In 1472, his name was inscribed in the register of painters in Florence. He completed a number of commissions in collaboration with his master, under the patronage of the Medici.
In 1476, he painted his first work, the Madonna of the carnation. Two years later, he was established as an independent master painter.
1482 is presumed to be the year in which he left for Milan. He was introduced at the court of Ludovico Sforza with a letter of recommendation from Lorenzo de Medici, who praised his many talents in military engineering, architecture, sculpture, painting and music.

Leonardo da Vinci in Milan (1482-1499)

Ludovico Sforza commissioned Leonardo da Vinci to produce a monumental equestrian statue in bronze. The artist went to work on the project on an exceptional scale (in terms of its size, the amount of bronze required to cast it and the countless anatomical sketches produced in preparation) but was unable to complete it.
For the Sforza family, da Vinci produced decors for rooms in the Castello Sforza and was also responsible for organising celebrations.
At the same time, he produced commissioned works, including a Virgin of the Rocks for the brotherhood of the Immaculate Conception in the San Francesco Grande chapel in Milan and the Last Supper, a fresco that decorates the refectory walls in the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

Leonardo da Vinci: painter and engineer

Ludovico Sforza’s defeat against the French army forced Leonardo da Vinci to leave Milan. He stayed in Mantua, then Venice (1500) and Emilia-Romagna, where he travelled with Cesare Borgia who appointed him inspector of fortifications.
In 1503, he returned to Florence and worked with the young Michelangelo on the decoration of a room in the Palazzo Vecchio.
In the same year, Leonardo da Vinci started the Mona Lisa, on which he worked until his death.
In 1506, he was recalled to Milan, where he was mainly involved with hydraulic, hydrographic and urban development projects.
From 1513 to 1516, he lived in Rome at the Pope’s request, carrying out a variety of scientific studies and hydraulic projects.

At the court of François I (1516-1519)

In 1516, Leonardo da Vinci was invited to the court of François I, at the château du Clos Lucé near Amboise. He was given the title of first painter and engineer to the king and completed a wide range of hydraulic and architectural projects. He fell ill and died at Clos Lucé in 1519.
Leonardo da Vinci had come to France with canvases that he had painted in previous years, including the Mona Lisa. François I bought them from him and these are the paintings that we find in the Louvre today.

Futuristic inventions

Although most of them never got past the drawing stage, Leonardo da Vinci designed a large number of inventions in the field of military engineering (weapons, machines of war, tanks, an idea for a machine gun) as well as hydraulics, mechanics and aeronautics: The movement of bats’ wings inspired him to design a flying machine with articulated wings, and he devised the principle behind the helicopter, parachute, etc.
The models of some of his inventions may be seen at Clos Lucé, where they were constructed from the master’s drawings.


At the Uffizi Gallery in Florence :
- The Annunciation, between 1472 and 1475
- Landscape in the Arno Valley, 1473
- The Adoration of the Magi, 1481 (oil on wood, unfinished)

At the Louvre Museum :
- The Virgin of the Rocks, between 1483 and 1484
- La Belle Ferronière, between 1490 and 1496
- The Virgin and Child with Saint Anne, 1502-1513
- Bacchus, 1510-1515
- Saint John the Baptist, between 1513 and 1516


- Leonardo da Vinci Hand of the Genius at the High Museum of Atlanta, until 21 February 2010, uses sketches and preparatory drawings to throw light on Leonardo da Vinci’s sculptural work.

Useful links

> Château du Clos Lucé
Leonardo da Vinci Museum of Science and Technology, Milan
> The Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci 's products at Nouvelles Images

> Transfert

Transfert Porportions of the human body

Nationality(ies) : Italian
Born on : 15/04/1452
Died on : 02/05/1519
Profile : Architect, Designer, Engineer, Painter, Poet , Sculptor
Artistic current(s) : Renaissance
Theme(s) covered : Portraits - Characters, Religion