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Learn about the early childhood of Leonardo Da Vinci. Also learn about his education and first paintings.
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Learn About the Life of Leonardo Da Vinci Part 1/3
Leonardo was born in this small Italian town of Vinci near Florence on April 15, 1452. He was the illegitimate son of Messer Piero da Vanci, a prominent Florentine notary who took the name of the town he lived in as his own name. His mother was a peasant woman known as Caterina. he was raised in his father’s house where he demonstrated his artistic talents at an early age.
In 1969, his family settled in Florence, the intellectual and artistic rabidly. Leonardo was given the best education that the city could offer. It was around this time that Leonardo became the pupil of Florentine painter and sculpture Andrea del Verrocchio. Some of Leonardo’s early work as a painter can be seen in Verrocchio’s painting of the Baptism of Christ. He was allowed to paint parts of the background landscape as well as one of the attending angels. His fine eye for detail and realism can be seen here and in his future work.
By 1948, Leonardo had established his own studio in Florence and was becoming well known for such works as his painting of Jesus and Mary and Benois Madonna, the Annunciation, the Portrait of Ginevra de’ Benci and the unfinished painting of Saint Jerome. In his paintings, he had used what he had learned about nature and science to make the backgrounds as realistic as his subjects.
In 1481, the monks have send Donato Scopeto in Florence commissioned Leonardo to do an altarpiece entitled the Adoration of the Magi but Leonardo was not happy in Florence and begin his search elsewhere for work. He wrote a letter to Ludovico Sforza, the duke of Milan and offered him his services. the Duke accepted his offer and by 1482 Leonardo was in Milan leaving the Adoration of the Magi forever unfinished.
Between 1482 and 1499, he served the Duke of Milan in a variety of capacities. Leonardo served his principle engineer in numerous military enterprises. As an architect, he entered the competition to design the Dome of Milan Cathedral although the project was never constructed. As Director of Court Pageants, he designed the settings and costumes as well as the stage machinery. Evidence indicates that Leonardo had apprentices and peoples in Milan and it was for them that he probably wrote his now famous treaties on painting and drew all the sketches for what they executed. Of Leonardo’s own paintings during his early Milan period, the most important one is Virgin of the Rocks. Before it was painted most artists would outline their subjects and use very flat backgrounds. Leonardo painted his people without outlining them. He made the shadows of his people almost blend into the background making the lighted parts seemed become forward giving the painting an almost three-dimensional appearance.
18 years later, Leonardo would paint The Virgin of the Rocks again the two paintings look almost exactly the same. It was also during this period that Leonardo painted Portrait of a Young Woman and the Lady with an Ermine. the latter being a portrait of Cecilia Gallerani the Duke of Milan’s mistress. Between 1495 and 1497, Leonardo da Vinci labored on this masterpiece The Last Supper. This great mural was done for the wall of a dining room at the Church delle Grazie in Milan. The Last Supper shows Jesus with his 12 apostles. The apostles are reacting to Jesus announcement that one of them will betray him. The special way Leonardo place the men around the table gives them a feeling of movement that had never been seen before. Unfortunately, Leonardo’s experimental use of oil on dried plaster was unsound and soon the work began to deteriorate. Although much of the original surface is gone the greatness of the composition still exists.