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Leonardo da Vinci Florentine High Renaissance anatomist, painter, architect, sculptor, military engineer, scientist, inventor and writer

born in Vinci (1452) and died in Château du Clos Lucé (1519), aged 67

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Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (Italian; 15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519) was an Italian painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived. His genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the Renaissance Man, a man of "unquenchable curiosity" and "feverishly inventive imagination". According to art historian Helen Gardner, the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent and "his mind and personality seem to us superhuman, the man himself mysterious and remote". Marco Rosci states that while there is much speculation about Leonardo, his vision of the world is essentially logical rather than mysterious, and that the empirical methods he employed were unusual for his time.

Leonardo was, and is, renowned primarily as a painter. Among his works, the Mona Lisa is the most famous and most parodied portrait and The Last Supper the most reproduced religious painting of all time, with their fame approached only by Michelangelo's The Creation of Adam. Leonardo's drawing of the Vitruvian Man is also regarded as a cultural icon, being reproduced on items as varied as the euro coin, textbooks, and T-shirts. Perhaps fifteen of his paintings have survived, the small number because of his constant, and frequently disastrous, experimentation with new techniques, and his chronic procrastination. Nevertheless, these few works, together with his notebooks, which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and his thoughts on the nature of painting, compose a contribution to later generations of artists rivalled only by that of his contemporary, Michelangelo.

Source: Wikipedia entry.

1452 in Vinci

April 15

Leonardo da Vinci is born out of wedlock to a notary, Ser Piero da Vinci, and a peasant woman, Caterina, in Vinci.

April 15

The event of Leonardo da Vinci's birth was recorded by his grandfather, Antonio, then about eighty years old, on the back page of an old notebook that had once belonged to his grandfather. On it he had already noted the births and baptisms of his own four children. There was just room at the bottom of the page to record this new arrival, this new generation -

Source: Leonardo da Vinci. The Flights of the Mind, Part One: Childhood; Birth.

April 15

Leonardo da Vinci is born in Vinci.

1466 aged 14

Leonardo da Vinci becomes a student of a translator and lecturer and philosopher and humanist called John Argyropolous over the course of ten years until 1476.

1467 aged 15 in Florence

Leonardo da Vinci is sent to Florence to work as apprentice to Andrea del Verrocchio.

1472 aged 20

Leonardo da Vinci paints The Annunciation for the Olivetan monastery of San Bartolomeo, near Florence.

Leonardo da Vinci works on an oil painting called The Annunciation over the course of three years until 1475.

July 1

In the summer of 1472, at the age of twenty, Leonardo was registered as a member of the Florentine painters' confraternity, the Compagnia di San Luca. The company's ledgers record that

Source: Leonardo da Vinci. The Flights of the Mind, Part Two: Apprenticeship.

1473 aged 21 in Arno

Leonardo da Vinci paints The Annunciation for the Olivetan monastery of San Bartolomeo, near Florence.

Leonardo da Vinci creates a pen and ink drawing called Drawing of the Arno Valley .

Leonardo da Vinci works on an oil painting called The Baptism of Christ for a year.

August 5

Leonardo da Vinci produces a pen and ink drawing of the Arno valley that is dated to this day. It is said to be one of the earliest Italian landscape drawings that focuses on the particular character of the location.

1476 aged 24

Leonardo da Vinci is anonymously accused, along with three others, of committing sodomy with Jocopo Salterelli (a 17-year-old part-time model in Verrocchio’s studio).

Leonardo da Vinci works on a painting called Ginevra de' Benci over the course of two years until 1478.

1478 aged 26

Leonardo da Vinci writes in his notebooks that he has begun "two Virgin Marys."

Leonardo da Vinci leaves Verrocchio's studio and is no longer resident at his father's house.

Leonardo da Vinci works on a painting called Madonna of the Carnation over the course of two years until 1480.

January

Leonardo da Vinci receives a commission to paint an altarpiece for the Chapel of the Signoria in the Palazzo Vecchio.

1479 aged 27

Leonardo da Vinci works on a fresco called The Adoration of the Magi over the course of two years until 1481.

Leonardo da Vinci works on an oil painting called Benois Madonna for a year.

1480 aged 28

The Anonimo Gaddiano claims that Leonardo da Vinci is living with the Medici and working in the Garden of the Piazza San Marco in Florence, a Neo-Platonic academy of artists, poets and philosophers.

Source: Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci works on an oil painting called St. Jerome in the Wilderness over the course of two years until 1482.

1481 aged 29

Draft of a letter from Leonardo da Vinci to Ludovico Sforza:

March

Leonardo da Vinci receives a commission to paint The Adoration of the Magi for the Monks of San Donato a Scopeto, which he leaves unfinished.

1482 aged 30 in Milan

Leonardo da Vinci moves to Milan to work in the service of the city's duke, Ludovico Sforza. He gains the title of "painter and engineer" of the duke.

According to Vasari, Leonardo da Vinci, who is a talented musician, creates a silver lyre in the shape of a horse's head.

1483 aged 31 in Milan

Leonardo da Vinci makes a sketch of the design for the Arial Screw while in Milan.

Leonardo da Vinci works on an oil painting called Virgin of the Rocks (Louvre version) over the course of seven years until 1490.

April 25

Leonardo da Vinci accepts the commission for an altar painting offered by the confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, which had a chapel in the now demolished church of San Francesco Grande in Milan.

December 3

Leonardo da Vinci agrees to deliver the Virgin of the Rocks to the confraternity in time for the Feast of the Conception of that year.

1485 aged 33

Leonardo da Vinci creates an oil painting called Portrait of a Musician .

1486 aged 34

Leonardo da Vinci delivers The Virgin of the Rocks to the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, three years later than contractually agreed.

1488 aged 36

Leonardo da Vinci becomes friends with Cecilia Gallerani .

Late

Leonardo da Vinci begins working on the apparatus for the festival celebrating the marriage of Gian Galeazo Sforza to Isabella of Aragon.

1489 aged 37 in Fiesole

Leonardo da Vinci studies anatomy.

Leonardo da Vinci receives the Sforza commission from Ludovico Sforza, to cast the largest equestrian statue ever, in honour of Ludovico's father.

July 21

They began to build the walls upon the aforesaid foundations.

Source: A Florentine Diary, p. 48-9

July 22

Impatient with Leonardo's delays in completing the clay model for the The Horse, Ludovico Sforza writes to Pietro Alemanni, the Florentine Ambassador to Milan, asking him to find "a master capable of doing the work."

August 31

Leonardo da Vinci asks Platino Plato, orator and poet, for an epigram to put on The Horse.

Late

Leonardo da Vinci works on an allegorical representation called 'Paradise', commissioned by Lodovico Sforza.

1490 aged 38 in Pavia

Leonardo da Vinci meets and adopts Giocomo Salai, a 10-year-old boy.

Leonardo da Vinci breaks off his studies on flight and does not resume them till 1505.

Leonardo da Vinci creates an oil painting called Lady with an Ermine .

Leonardo da Vinci creates an oil painting called Madonna Litta .

Leonardo da Vinci works on an oil painting called La Belle Ferronnière over the course of six years until 1496.

April 23

Leonardo da Vinci begins work on a new codex and resumes work on The Horse.

June 15

Leonardo da Vinci goes to Pavia with Francesco di Giorgio Martini to advise on the construction of the cathedral.

1491 aged 39

Leonardo da Vinci assists in the preparations for the tournament held in honour of Ludovico Sforza's marriage to Beatrice d'Este. For this he devised an invasion by a company of dancing and singing Scythians or Tartars, costumed as savages and led by a rider mounted on a big horse and wearing a cloak covered with golden scales and painted with peacock's eyes. ('Leonardo da Vinci', p. 61)

1492 aged 40 in Milan

At about this time in Milan, Leonardo was beginning to collect observations on painting and on a variety of scientific and literary subjects, with a view to gathering them in the form of treatises.

Source: Leonardo: A Study in Chronology and Style, p. 65

Leonardo da Vinci completes the clay model of The Horse.

January

Leonardo da Vinci directs the tournament of Galeazzo Sanseverino.

1494 aged 42 in Vigevano and Ferrara

The clay cast for Leonardo's equestrian statue, known as Il Colosso, is displayed at the wedding of Bianca Maria Sforza to great acclaim.

The 66 tons of bronze which has been set aside to cast Leonardo's equestrian statue is sent instead to Ferrara to make cannons for the war against France.

September

Leonardo da Vinci drops plans for the Sforza monument until it can be cast and begins reclamation work in the Sforza lands near Vigevano, freeing one vast tract of water and converting another to a grazing area.

1495 aged 43 in Milan

Leonardo da Vinci's mother Caterina is believed to die in Milan in this year.

Leonardo da Vinci begins work on The Last Supper in the refectory of the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.

Leonardo da Vinci works on an oil painting called Virgin of the Rocks (London version) over the course of thirteen years until 1508.

Leonardo da Vinci works on a drawing called La Bella Principessa for a year.

Leonardo da Vinci works on a fresco called The Last Supper over the course of three years until 1498.

1497 aged 45

June 29

From a sheet of instructions that Lodovico Sforza gave to his secretary:

Source: Leonardo: A Study in Chronology and Style, p. 75

1498 aged 46

Leonardo da Vinci works on a tempera painting called Sala delle Asse for a year.

February 9

1499 aged 47 in Venice and Milan

With the duke Ludovico Sforza's fall from power, Leonardo da Vinci flees Milan for Venice, with his assistant Giocomo Salai and friend, the mathematician Luca Pacioli.

Leonardo da Vinci creates an oil painting called Madonna of the Yarnwinder .

Leonardo da Vinci works on a drawing called Portrait of Isabella d'Este for a year.

Leonardo da Vinci works on a cartoon (fresco) called The Virgin and Child with St Anne and St John the Baptist for a year.

1500 aged 48 in Florence, Venice and Santissima Annunziata

Leonardo da Vinci and Luca Pacioli go to Mantua, then Leonardo continues on to Florence. In Mantua, he draws the Portrait of Isabella d'Este. In Florence, he paints the Virgin and Child with Saint Anne.

Leonardo da Vinci returns to Florence, where he and his household are guests of the Servite monks at the monastery of Santissima Annunziata and are provided with a workshop.

1501 aged 49

May 12

Extract from a letter from Francesco Malatesta to Isabella d'Este mentioning Leonardo's viewing and valuation of some antique vases formerly owned by the Medici:

November 9

Leonardo da Vinci draws out 50 florins from his savings at Santa Maria Nuovo.

1502 aged 50 in Cesena, Urbino, Pesaro and Urbino, Pavia, Imola and Rimini

In Cesena, Leonardo da Vinci begins work as senior military architect and general engineer for Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI.

An anecdote from Luca Pacioli's De viribus quantitatis relates an incident with Leonardo da Vinci in his capacity as military engineer on campaign with Cesare Borgia.

Leonardo da Vinci creates a map of Cesare Borgia's stronghold, a town plan of Imola in order to win his patronage.

Leonardo da Vinci gifts to his pupil Salai a precious garment given to him by Cesare Borgia.

July 30

Itinerary jotted down in Leonardo da Vinci's notebook:

Source: Leonardo da Vinci. The Flights of the Mind, p. 600.

August 1

Itinerary jotted down in Leonardo da Vinci's notebook:

Source: Leonardo da Vinci. The Flights of the Mind, p. 600.

August 8

Itinerary jotted down in Leonardo da Vinci's notebook:

Source: Leonardo da Vinci. The Flights of the Mind, p. 600.

August 10

Itinerary jotted down in Leonardo da Vinci's notebook:

Source: Leonardo da Vinci. The Flights of the Mind, p. 600.

August 15

Itinerary jotted down in Leonardo da Vinci's notebook:

Source: Leonardo da Vinci. The Flights of the Mind, p. 600.

August 18

Passport drawn up in Pavia granting Leonardo da Vinci free access to the dominions of Cesare Borgia as his chief military architect:

Source: Leonardo da Vinci. The Flights of the Mind, p. 601.

1503 aged 51 in Florence and Constantinople

Leonardo da Vinci returns to Florence where he is commissioned to paint a mural, The Battle of Anghiari, in the council hall in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio.

Leonardo da Vinci begins painting the Mona Lisa and works on it on and off for the next thirteen years. Walter Pater gives an immortal description in a passage from The Renaissance.

Leonardo da Vinci creates an oil painting called Mona Lisa .

Leonardo da Vinci becomes an enemy of a military engineer and sculptor and painter and architect and poet called Michelangelo .

July 3

Extract a cover letter from Leonardo da Vinci to Sultan Bejazet (or Beyazid) II offering his services. This is dated by Charles Nicholl to July 3, 1503.

Source: Leonardo da Vinci. The Flights of the Mind, p. 612.

October 18

October 24

Leonardo da Vinci is assigned the Sala del Papa in S. Maria Novella to begin work on the cartoon for the Battle of Anghiari.

1504 aged 52 in Piombino, Florence, Pisa and Arno

In Florence, Leonardo da Vinci and Niccolò Machiavelli become involved in a scheme to divert the Arno river, cutting the water supply to Pisa to force its surrender: Colombino, the project foreman, fails to follow da Vinci’s design, and the project is a major failure.

Leonardo da Vinci works on a fresco called The Battle of Anghiari for a year.

May 4

The mural for the Council Hall of Florence was commissioned from Leonardo with a contract of 4 May 1504, signed by Machiavelli as secretary of the Republic; but Leonardo had already begun working on the cartoon in the Sala del Papa in S. Maria Novella, which had been assigned to him on 24 October of the preceding year.

Source: Leonardo: A Study in Chronology and Style, p. 82

Winter

Leonardo's work on the cartoon of the Battle of Anghiari was suddenly interrupted in the last months of 1504, and he went to Piombino on a somewhat official mission as a military architect. (During his absence Michelangelo was to receive the commission for the Battle of Cascina.) His mission was preceded by a diplomatic action conducted by Machiavelli himself. It can be inferred, therefore, that it was Machiavelli who suggested Leonardo's name for the programme of fortification projects suggested by Jacopo IV Appiano, Lord of Piombino, an ally of the Florentines at the time of the Pisian war, 1503-4, when Leonardo had already been consulted on the project of diverting the Arno River for strategic reasons, and when Antonio da Sangallo the Elder was the chief military architect of the Florentine Republic. Leonardo's activity at Piombino, revealed by newly discovered evidence, included the study of the city walls, the citadel and the main gate.

Source: Leonardo: A Study in Chronology and Style, p. 95.

1505 aged 53 in Piazza della Signoria and Fiesole

Michelangelo chances upon Leonardo da Vinci discussing Dante at Piazza della Signoria and berates him for his failure to cast The Horse.

Leonardo da Vinci resumes his studies on flight, at Fiesole.

Leonardo da Vinci had musicians play music to entertain Lisa when painting her portrait.

July 6

Leonardo da Vinci begins painting the Battle of Anghiari in the Palazzo Vecchio with the help of a few assistants.

1506 aged 54 in Milan and Florence

Leonardo da Vinci returns to Milan.

Leonardo da Vinci took three months' leave of absence from his work on the Battle of Anghiari mural in Florence to go to Milan in the service of the French governor Charles d'Amboise, who commissioned the project of a house and garden from him.

Source: Leonardo: A Study in Chronology and Style, p. 90

Leonardo da Vinci works on an oil painting called Salvator Mundi over the course of seven years until 1513.

Leonardo da Vinci creates a bronze sculpture called The Preaching of St John the Baptist .

1507 aged 55 in Florence

Leonardo da Vinci meets Francesco Melzi, a Milanese gentleman who becomes his pupil and one of his lifelong companions.

Leonardo da Vinci is back in Florence trying to sort out litigation issues with his brothers over his father's estate.

1508 aged 56 in Milan

Leonardo da Vinci is back in Milan, living in his own house in Porta Orientale.

Leonardo da Vinci works on an oil painting called Saint John the Baptist over the course of eight years until 1516.

Leonardo da Vinci creates an oil painting called Head of a Woman .

Leonardo da Vinci creates an oil painting called The Virgin and Child with St. Anne .

1512 aged 60

Leonardo da Vinci creates a chalk drawing called Self Portrait .

1513 aged 61 in Florence, Bellinzona, Ticino, Bregno and Rome

The fragment of Leonardo's mural, the Battle of Anghiari, was protected with a wooden frame soon after the return of the Medici to Florence, when the rest of the room was dismantled and eliminated, as we everything referring to the preceding republican government.

Leonardo da Vinci moves to Rome at the invitation of the newly elected Pope Leo X, where he studies the properties of mirrors.

September 23

A landslide occurred in the Alps near Bellinzona which is described by Leandro Alberti in 1550:

Source: Leonardo: A Study in Chronology and Style, p. 21

September 25

Leonardo da Vinci moves to Rome, together with his pupils Melzi, Salai and Il Fanfoia.

October

Leonardo da Vinci sketches an epigastric parasitic thoracopagus (a person with the body of a child growing out of their chest) that he saw in Florence, on his way to Rome.

1514 aged 62 in Rome

Leonardo da Vinci applied to join the confraternity of S. Giovanni dei Fiorentini in Rome, probably in a moment of depression at a court which had little or no consideration for him, in the hope that a religious institution could provide him with quiet shelter and affectionate assistance, and to which he could leave all his possessions, just as he was leaving drawings and other belongings to another religious institution in Florence, the hospital of S. Maria Novella, in which he was accommodated at the time he was working on the Battle of Anghiari.

1515 aged 63 in Bologna

Leonardo da Vinci constructs a mechanical lion for the coronation of the new king of France, Francois I.

December 19

Leonardo da Vinci is present at the meeting of King Francoise I and Pope Leo X, which takes place in Bologna.

1516 aged 64

King Francoise I invites Leonardo da Vinci to come work for him.

Leonardo da Vinci finishes working on the Mona Lisa.

1517 aged 65 in Château du Clos Lucé

Leonardo da Vinci takes the Mona Lisa with him on his journey to his final residence at a chateaux in Amboise.

Leonardo da Vinci moves to France at the invitation of King Francoise I. He is granted the post of First Painter, Engineer and Architect of the King. Leonardo, and his pupils, Francesco Melzi and Giocomo Salai move into the chateau of Cloux near Amboise.

1519 aged 67 in Château du Clos Lucé

Leonardo da Vinci wills the Mona Lisa to his lifelong assistant, Giocomo Salai.

May 3

Leonardo da Vinci dies at Château du Clos Lucé. He is originally buried in the Church of St Valentine at Amboise.

May 19

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people and entities

Andrea del Verrocchio painter, sculptor
Beatrice d'Este ducchess, woman
Caterina peasant, woman
Cesare Borgia condottiero, cardinal, duke
Francesco di Giorgio Martini military engineer, architect, painter
Giorgione painter
Guild of Saint Luke painters guild
Jocopo Salterelli artist's model
Leonardo da Vinci anatomist, painter, architect, sculptor, military engineer, scientist, inventor, writer
Lorenzo de' Medici patron, poet, ruler
Luca Pacioli mathematician
Machiavelli historian
Michelangelo military engineer, sculptor, painter, architect, poet
Platino Plato orator, poet

concepts

Florence Italy, Europe, Tuscany

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Followers

Giovanni Francesco Rustici (1474-1554) Italian Renaissance painter and sculptor

Raphael (1483-1520) Umbrian High Renaissance painter, architect and poet

Correggio (1489-1534) Italian High Renaissance painter

Francesco Melzi (1491-1568) Milanese High Renaissance painter

Giorgione (1477-1510) Venetian High Renaissance painter

Friends

Francesco Melzi (1491-1568) Milanese High Renaissance painter

Luca Pacioli (1445-1517) Italian mathematician

Giovanni Ambrogio de Predis (1455-1508) Milanese Renaissance painter

Students

Giocomo Salai (1480-1524) Milanese High Renaissance painter

Francesco Melzi (1491-1568) Milanese High Renaissance painter

Acquaintances

Giovanni Ambrogio de Predis (1455-1508) Milanese Renaissance painter

John Argyropolous (1415-1487) Byzantine translator, lecturer, philosopher and humanist

Giovanni Francesco Rustici (1474-1554) Italian Renaissance painter and sculptor

Michelangelo (1475-1564) Florentine High Renaissance military engineer, sculptor, painter, architect and poet

Parents

Caterina Vincian peasant and woman

Ser Piero da Vinci Vincian notary

Employers

Cesare Borgia (1475-1507) Italian condottiero, cardinal and duke

Teachers

Andrea del Verrocchio (1435-1488) Florentine Renaissance painter and sculptor

Fellow students

Giovanni Francesco Rustici (1474-1554) Italian Renaissance painter and sculptor

Perugino (1446-1523) Umbrian Renaissance painter

Domenico Ghirlandaio (1449-1494) Florentine Renaissance painter

Lorenzo di Credi Florentine Renaissance painter

Botticelli (1445-1510) Florentine Renaissance painter, man and goldsmith

Nephews/Nieces

Pierino da Vinci (1529-1553) Florentine Mannerist sculptor

Follower of

Andrea del Verrocchio (1435-1488) Florentine Renaissance painter and sculptor

Employees

Bernardo Maggi di Abbiategrasso Milanese carpenter

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