One of the most brilliant people, who walked on Earth, Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452 near Vinci in a Tuscan hamlet. From the early age, he showed interest in arts, which is why when he turned 14 he started his apprenticeship. He worked and studied at the workshop of the prominent sculptor of his time, Andrea del Verrocchio. That period of time was marked by masterpieces of such painters as Michaelangelo, Raphal and other prominent artists. The first work of Da Vinci was Landscape Drawing for Santa Maria della Neve, in which he depicted Arno River valley.
This painting was completed in 1473 just a few years before he left Verrocchio workshop to start his own studio. Upon his departure from the workshop of Andrea del Verrocchio, Leonardo started working on his legacy – religious masterpieces, as did many of his eminent contemporaries. However, apart from his work on religious-themed projects, he took portraits commissions. Among the most notable of them are the portraits of Ginevra de' Benci, Madonna of the Carnation, as well as Adoration of the Magi. In a couple of years after opening his own studio, he received an invitation to become court artist from Duke of Milan.
“Virgin of the Rocks”, painted in 1483, was among the first religious masterpieces, created by Leonardo, while working in Duke’s court. It was a big altarpiece, where he played with edges of the subjects in order to create smoking effect – a technique, known as sfumato. He continued to work on perfecting the technique in his further works as well. In fact, his obsession with this technique resulted in quick deterioration of world-known masterpiece “Last Supper”. Instead of mixing water-based fresco paints, he used oil-based paint on plaster. This use of oil-based paint helped him to achieve the sfumato effect, which he sought above everything else. However, it also contributed to painting deterioration within few decades after completion. Therefore, the masterpiece, which can now be seen in Louvre, is just a reproduction.
After the French invaded Milan, Leonardo returned home and was warmly greeted by friends, who praised his innovative techniques in art. This was the time, when he started his work on his most famous painting Mona Lisa, as he received an order from Francesco del Giocondo to paint the portrait of his wife. Leonardo did not complete the commission, leaving the portrait for himself.
In 1515, the French invaded Milan again and while being there, Leonardo was granted the title of the leading painter, mechanic, and architect at court. His last residence was the Fontainebleau court of Francis I. Da Vinci passed away on 2 May 1519, at Clos Lucé. He was 67 at that moment. The cause of his death is considered to be stroke. His burial place is in Frace, at Chapel of Saint-Hubert, Amboise.
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