Leonardo Da Vinci, 500th anniversary
Today, May 2nd, 2019, we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the death of the great genius Leonardo da Vinci
One of the most famous and respected Italians ever.
Leonardo, the son of Ser Piero da Vinci, was born Saturday, April 15, 1452 in Vinci (Florence), from an illegitimate relationship between Piero da Vinci, a notary, and Catherine, a woman of modest social background who would later marry a farmer.
The child however was welcomed into his father’s house, where he was raised with affection and educated.
From a very young age, Leonardo showed remarkable intelligence and unparalleled curiosity. He was attracted to all artistic disciplines and was a keen observer of natural phenomena.
Sculpture, architecture, painting, engineering Leonardo mastered many fields and worked for the most powerful and prestigious families of the time.
He provided military and engineering advice to Lorenzo de’Medici (ruler of FLorence), also known as Il Magnifico (the Magnificent). During this Florentine period he was also commissioned to paint the Adoration of the Magi for the church of San Giovanni a Scopeto
He then worked for Ludovico Maria Sforza, known as il Moro (the Moor), ruler of the Duchy of Milan, one of the few cities in Europe at the time to exceed one hundred thousand inhabitants and centre of a populous and productive region.
Leonardo introduced himself to the Sforzas with a CV in which he described himself as civil engineer and builder of war machinery.
During this first Milanese period, he produced a number of masterpieces, such as the Virgin of the Rocks, the equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza, the world-famous Last Supper (painted in the Renaissance refectory of the convent adjacent to the sanctuary of Santa Maria delle Grazie), the decorations of some rooms of the Sforzesco Castleand The Lady with an Ermine.
After the troops of Louis XII of France, invaded Milan, Leonardo travelled to Mantua, Venice, Florence and was eventually hired by Cesare Borgia, the son of Pope Alexander VI and also known as Il Valentino.
For the Valentino, Leonardo planned flying machines and tools for underwater warfare and developed a new type of gunpowder.
He later travelled back to Florence, where he painted the Battle of Anghiari and his greatest work, the Mona Lisa.
Back in Milan he painted the Virgin and Child with St Anne and completed a second version of the Virgin of the Rocks.
From Milan he again travelled to Rome, where he devoted himself to studying science, mechanics, optics and geometry and eventually moved to France, at the service of Francis I.
On May 2, 1519, the great Renaissance genius died at the age of 67 and was buried in the church of S. Fiorentino in Amboise.
Unfortunately tombs were destroyed and raided during the religious clashes of the 16th century and no certifiable trace of his remains is left today.