Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci was one of the greatest geniuses the world has ever known. More than 500 years ago, he designed flying machines, robots, submarines, underwater breathing gear and solar powered industries; laid most of the groundwork for the artificial heart valve; and created some of the greatest paintings in the history of art. With little formal education, his brilliance lay in his ability to master different subjects and fuse them together through observation, insight, and inspiration.
Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452 in Vinci, Italy—just outside Florence. His beginnings were humble, as he was born the illegitimate son of a 25-year-old notary and a peasant woman. As an illegitimate child, he did not take his father’s last name and was therefore known as Leonardo “from Vinci,” or “da Vinci.” As a child, Leonardo had an enormous interest in the world around him and loved to observe nature. He also showed a talent for drawing, and when Leonardo was 15, his father arranged an apprenticeship for him in the Florentine studio of the acclaimed painter, Andrea del Verrochio. It was there that Leonardo’s amazing aptitude for art blossomed.
By 1482, he was in the service of the Duke of Milan, not simply for his artistic talents, but for his clear engineering prowess and scientific genius. Leonardo designed weaponry, buildings and machinery and produced studies on nature, mechanics, anatomy, architecture and much, much more.