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LEONARDO DA VINCI

Leonardo da Vinci is widely considered to be one of the greatest inventors, artists, scientists and thinkers of all time. While his ingenuity as a leading Renaissance painter and sculptor has been celebrated all around the world, his work in the fields of engineering and science have remained hidden for many centuries.

Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452 near Vinci in Tuscany, not far from Florence. He was the illegitimate son of a notary, Messer Piero and a peasant woman, Caterina. From an early age, Leonardo showed extraordinary skills as an artist. He was driven by an unparalleled curiosity and the ability to complement artistic disciplines with his scientific knowledge.

As a teenager, Leonardo worked as an apprentice in Florence to Verrocchio, one of the most admired artists of his time. During these years, Leonardo painted the Baptism of Christ, which was later considered to be his professional turning point. Using a new technique of oil painting to provide greater depth and color, Verrocchio conceded that the talent of his young protégé was far superior to his own.

From 1476, Leonardo set off on his quest to learn everything there was to know. He was not considered to be an educated person as he never learned Latin or studied formally with the clergy, nor could he read books. Instead he sought knowledge through the power of observation and experience, a trait that he applied to everything he did for the rest of his life.

In the mid-1480’s, Leonardo expanded his work to include architecture, military engineering and strategy, studies on mechanical flight, theatrical production and music. Up until his death he was dedicated to designing machines and inventions that would drastically enhance the world as he knew it.

Throughout his life Leonardo was fascinated by the study of nature; in fact, all of his works have their roots in nature’s principles. Leonardo dreamed of creating the ‘ideal city’ with a healthy environment that would rid his world of the deadly plague. A true genius, Leonardo foreshadowed the invention of the automobile, improved ball bearing and gearing systems, sketched the mechanisms for a robot and was even one of the world’s first cartographers. On top of all of this, he was an early anatomist and ardently pursued knowledge in the areas of geology, astronomy and hydraulics.

However he was above all a tireless observer who was committed to solving a wide range of complex problems by creating plans and sketches for inventions, many of which have taken centuries to be realized.

After suffering a stroke in 1517, Leonardo died alone and unfulfilled two years later in 1519 in Amboise, France. His final writings include: “I have offended God and mankind because my work didn’t reach the quality it should have.” He was buried in the Chapel of Saint-Hubert in the castle of Amboise.