Leonardo da Vinci lived from 1452 – 1519 during the Italian Renaissance, a time of new “reborn” interest in Greek
and Roman styles of art and architecture and new discoveries in math and science. He represents the perfect
“Renaissance Man.” He was interested in both the sciences and the arts. He was an inventor who drew plans for
hundreds of inventions; he was also a sculptor, a painter, an architect, a musician, and an engineer. His two most
famous paintings are the “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper.” He was also known for his backwards mirror writing.
Click on an image below for more information about that topic.
Leonardo never saw most of his inventions actually built; they just remained on paper and in his mind. They
included plans for a parachute, a hang glider, a helicopter, a submarine, and an underwater breathing device.
The Renaissance was a time of frequent warfare; although Leonardo himself was against war, he did design some
weapons, such as a machine resembling a modern tank, something like a machine gun, and a steam-powered cannon.
For a short time, Leonardo worked for Cesare Borgia as a military inventor. Cesare was the son of Pope Alexander
VI; he got rich by stealing artwork, killing his enemies personally, and of course, fighting wars.
“The Last Supper” is the most famous and most reproduced (copied) religious painting of all time. The painting
depicts the last supper of Jesus with his disciples. Only a little of the original painting remains because of
damage from environment, intentional vandalism, and possible bomb damage (from World War 2) over the years.
The “Mona Lisa” is the most famous and popular portrait ever created. It’s believed that the woman in the
painting is Lisa Gherardini. “Mona” is short for “Madonna,” which basically meant “Madam.” The woman in the
painting has a slight smile; it’s unknown what she might be smiling at. It’s also one of the most valuable
paintings in the world, with an insurance valuation of over $650,000,000. It has been on display at the Louvre
Museum in Paris since 1797.