Studied under Andrea del Verrocchio
Leonardo da Vinci was an illegitimate child born to a lawyer, Ser Piero, and a peasant girl, Caterina, in 1452 in the town of Vinci. He is credited as one of the most brilliant men of the High Renaissance. He was an artist, an engineer and a scientist, and was known to have numerous talents, including singing.
After his artistic training he became a court painter for the Duke Ludovico Sforza of Milan in 1482 for a period of seventeen years. However, his active mind prevented him from producing a large number of paintings, in fact, he only finished six in the seventeen years he served as court painter. From 1513 to 1516, he held a workshop in Rome and often painted for the Pope. King Francis I gave him the title of Premier Painter and Engineer and Architect in March of 1516, and provided him with many riches. He eventually got paralysis in his right hand, but it did not stop him from his artwork or inventions. Da Vinci died on May 2, 1519 at the Château de Cloux, near Amboise, France.
Da Vinci is one of the best known masters of the Renaissance. His contributions in art include a new style of composition where a natural background balances the portrait that is secondary in size showing a spatial difference. He is also one of the earliest 'masters' of chiaroscuro and sfumato, and development in anatomy. He was thought to be way ahead of his time with his innovative inventions, sketches and new approaches to art.
His most famous painting, the Mona Lisa, characterizes the effect of his drawings through the depth in technique and the mysterious sense in the painting. Many have analyzed the strange smile on the woman's face, curious as to what it represents.
The Mona Lisa