Leonardo da Vinci
He was a genius who lived during the Renaissance.
This is believed to be a self-portait of Leonardo when he was around 60 years of age.
The great Italian artist, mathematician, scientist, engineer, architect, writer and inventor, Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci, was born on 15 April, 1452. It is written that he was born 'at the third hour of the night'.
The name 'da Vinci' actually means 'from Vinci' because Vinci is the name of the small town, near to Florence, where Leonardo's family came from. He was actually born in a farmhouse in the village of Anchiano, just 3 km from Vinci.
The first part of his name, Leonardo di ser Piero , means 'Leonardo the son of Mr. Peter.' Piero (Peter) was his father's first name and he worked as a notary (rather like a solicitor.) His father's family was middle-class and well-to-do.
Leonardo's mother was called Caterina and she was a peasant-girl. She was not married to Leonardo's father and would not be able to do so because of her low social class. Instead, Leonardo's father married a girl from a wealthy family and Caterina was made to marry a farmer. The child grew up in his father's household and spent much time in the countryside, observing nature.
Everyone could see that Leonardo was very talented. He played the lyre, sang beautifully, was excellent at maths and enjoyed drawing animals and nature. He was fascinated by birds and their ability to fly.
Below is a drawing by Leonardo in 1473 of the local landscape. This drawing is called Il Paesaggio.
The teenage Leonardo was sent to Florence to be trained by Andrea del Verrocchio who was a very well-known and highly-considered artist, sculptor and goldsmith.
At this time, Florence was ruled by the de' Medici family. They were great patrons of art and Verrocchio's workshop was their favourite one. In other words, Verrocchio was the artist of the time in Florence.