Leonardo da Vinci
Italian Renaissance polymath



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Leonardo da Vinci
Italian Renaissance polymath

Birth Date

April 15, 1452

Death Date

May 02, 1519

Quick Fact


If you ever want to feel bad about how little you’ve done with your life, stop right here and read the bio of a true overachiever: Leonardo da Vinci

For someone who is known best for his skills as an artist, Leo wasn’t really too prolific a painter. He made a few paintings, and made them really well. But there’s just so much more to this guy than the Mona Lisa or The Last Supper.

There’s a term for folks whose brains are stuffed with knowledge, a 'polymath,' and I’m guessing it was coined especially for da Vinci. This guy only moonlighted as a painter. His other interests were science, botany, sculpture, architecture, music, math, literature, anatomy, geology, writing, astronomy, history, cartography and inventing stuff…phew! Good luck fitting that on a Tinder profile. It’s no wonder he didn’t finish too many paintings – da Vinci clearly had a lot going on. Might also factor into why he said: “Art is never finished, only abandoned.”

Seems like every other day, people going through da Vinci’s notebooks (which are filled with no less than 2000 drawings) are figuring out that he can be credited for everything awesome that was ever created -- the parachute, helicopters, solar power and even the theory of friction! Wonder if he liked to cook too…Da Vinci’s original mac ‘n cheese recipe is all that’s missing from this personal directory of genius. Speaking of diverse interests, da Vinci was also a quintessential gay (or at least bi) Renaissance man. Seems like a Renaissance rite of passage to explore your sexuality, and this is apparent in da Vinci’s androgynous and homoerotic portraits. Well, that…and he got caught in a stags-only foursome. Kind of cancels out the subtle symbolism, doesn’t it?

People who are super secretive about their personal lives are usually always perverts or murderers, in my experience. Leonardo could’ve been the former: he had a student of only age 10 named Salai aka “the unclean one” move in with him. Salai was hot (ew?), Da Vinci was into him…and there you have it, the stuff that low-budget pornos are made of! Salai eventually modeled for da Vinci as well, and is seen in drawings like Angelo Incarnato pointing to the heavens with his finger and his penis. No symbolism necessary there. Speaking of Salai’s nether regions, da Vinci also did a close-up drawing of an anus labeled Salai’s bum. Don’t you just love those first few dates when it’s all talking, getting to know each other and having your anus sketched?

Be that as it may, da Vinci was still beloved during his time. Not a lot of artists get to die in the arms of the King of France, but da Vinci got such a dying embrace. That, and he painted some of the most famous paintings of all times. People are still trying to figure his sh*t out…partly because he wrote backwards in code. Aside from giving several art supplies companies an obvious brand name; books, songs, movies, TV shows, and cameos on The Family Guy have all been dedicated to him and we all continue to celebrate his genius. Did I say genius like 4 times already? Genius!



Born April 15, 1452 - Died May 2, 1519

Illegitimate (dad never married mom).

Talents included lute playing, painting, sculpting, and designing helicopters and death machines (catapults, tanks, etc).

Great at starting projects, horrible at finishing them.

Leonardo's gayness was never proven, but there is some evidence that he may have been, so we are running with that. To wit:
1) He was once charged with sodomy after a fling with three buddies and male prostitute. It is believed he escaped punishment because one those buddies was a relative of the Medici family (which pretty much owned Florence, where the incident took place).
2) He was never married, and there were no known girlfriends.
3) He made way more drawings of men than women, and usually, the men were good looking and nude.
4) Sigmund Freud wrote a paper saying Leonardo was gay, and that (surprise!) his mother was to blame.

The author Dan Brown likes to refer to Leonardo simply with "da Vinci" but that literally means "of Vinci" (the town where he was born) so to make sure you don't sound like an idiot just call him Leonardo. Or one of the Ninja Turtles, that counts too.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (Italian: [leoˈnardo di ˌsɛr ˈpjɛːro da (v)ˈvintʃi] (About this soundlisten); 15 April 1452 – 2 May 1519), more commonly Leonardo da Vinci or simply Leonardo, was an Italian polymath of the Renaissance whose areas of interest included invention, drawing, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. He has been variously called the father of palaeontology, ichnology, and architecture, and he is widely considered one of the greatest painters of all time. Sometimes credited with the inventions of the parachute, helicopter, and tank, he epitomised the Renaissance humanist ideal.

Many historians and scholars regard Leonardo as the prime exemplar of the "Universal Genius" or "Renaissance Man", an individual of "unquenchable curiosity" and "feverishly inventive imagination", and he is widely considered one of the most diversely talented individuals ever to have lived. According to art historian Helen Gardner, the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent in recorded history, and "his mind and personality seem to us superhuman, while the man himself mysterious and remote". Marco Rosci notes that, while there is much speculation regarding his life and personality, his view of the world was logical rather than mysterious, although the empirical methods he employed were unorthodox for his time.

Leonardo was born out of wedlock to notary Piero da Vinci and a peasant woman named Caterina in Vinci in the region of Florence, and he was educated in the studio of Florentine painter Andrea del Verrocchio. Much of his earlier working life was spent in the service of Ludovico il Moro in Milan. He later worked in Rome, Bologna, and Venice, and he spent his last years in France at the home awarded to him by Francis I of France.

Leonardo is renowned primarily as a painter. The Mona Lisa is the most famous of his works and the most parodied portrait, and The Last Supper is the most reproduced religious painting of all time. His drawing of the Vitruvian Man is also regarded as a cultural icon, being reproduced on items as varied as the euro coin, textbooks, and T-shirts. His painting Salvator Mundi sold for $450.3 million at a Christie's auction in New York on 15 November 2017, the highest price ever paid for a work of art. Perhaps 15 of his paintings have survived. Nevertheless, these few works compose a contribution to later generations of artists rivalled only by that of his contemporary Michelangelo, together with his notebooks, which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and his thoughts on the nature of painting.

Leonardo is revered for his technological ingenuity. He conceptualised flying machines, a type of armoured fighting vehicle, concentrated solar power, an adding machine, and the double hull. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or even feasible during his lifetime, as the modern scientific approaches to metallurgy and engineering were only in their infancy during the Renaissance. Some of his smaller inventions, however, entered the world of manufacturing unheralded, such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire. A number of his most practical inventions are displayed as working models at the Museum of Vinci. He made substantial discoveries in anatomy, civil engineering, geology, optics, and hydrodynamics, but he did not publish his findings and they had no direct influence on later science.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Leonardo da Vinci.