Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci


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Leonardo da Vinci
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Leonardo da Vinci was one of the great geniuses of the [Renaissance#ESTILOS#1] and stood out as an artist, inventor and investigator. He was born in 1452 in Vinci and was the illegitimate son of a Florentine notary. He grew up in Florence and was apprenticed to Verrocchio. It is almost certain that Leonardo was at Verrocchio's workshop in 1476, as an official accusation in which he is charged with being homosexual confirms. By the age of twenty he was already an independent master and was particularly interested in discovering new techniques for working in oil. However, he continued to be associated with Verrocchio's workshop almost up until he left Florence. His reputation grew and the commissions increased. In 1482 he moved to Milan, offering his services to Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. He had gone to Milan as the ambassador for Florence as part of the Medici's plan of spreading Florentine art to demonstrate the prestige of Florence and as an instrument of cultural propaganda. He spent 17 years in Milan, working on all kinds of projects, both artistic and scientific, in which his wish to experiment was his main objective. This did not prevent him from carrying out occasional commissions from Florence, which he often left unfinished. After Milan was invaded by French troops he returned to Florence to work as a military engineer. Around this time he carried out numerous dissections, thus improving and perfecting his knowledge of anatomy. In Florence he received a commission to decorate a room in the Grand Council, which he never finished. In 1506 he returned to Milan and a year later he entered the service of Louis XIII of France for whom he worked as a painter and engineer. Between 1513 and 1516 he was in Rome but, aware that he could not compete with [Michelangelo#pintor_en#2750], he accepted François I's invitation and moved to France. He died there in the royal château de Cloux, near Amboise, in 1519. Leonardo's production was marked by his interest in chiaroscuro and sfumato, a technique that softens contours to create a magnificent hazy atmospheric effect as can be appreciated in his most famous work, the [Mona Lisa#CUADROS#1497]. His facet as a draughtsman is also notable. Much of his writing and annotations have survived. At the end of his life he was paralysed in his right arm which prevented him from painting, but it did not stop him drawing or teaching. His immediate pupils were unmemorable and Leonardo's talent was infinitely superior to that of those who worked with him. Among his collaborators names such as Francesco Melzi, Boltraffio, Lorenzo de Credi, Ambrogio and Evangelista de Predis stand out. Leonardo represents a break with the universal models established during the Quattrocento. He was opposed to the concept of an ideal "beauty" and defended the faithful imitation of nature without trying to improve on it. Thus he contemplated ugliness and the grotesque such as in his drawings of deformed and comic figures, considered the first caricatures in the history of art. His command of colour and atmosphere meant that he was the first artist able to paint air. Aerial or atmospheric perspective, as it is known today, is an distinctive feature of his work, especially in his landscapes. Leonardo was the first to consider that distance was filled with air and that the air made distant objects become less defined and appear bluish. He lived in a period in which humanism and the study of the classics were in force. However, it would appear that he had difficulties learning Latin and Greek, the cultured languages that were the key to the neo-Platonic philosophic culture that dominated Italy and part of Europe at the time. Leonardo's writings are mostly in Tuscan, a Florentine dialect. However, he wrote back to front as if looking through a mirror. Leonardo's pictorial work is very scarce and much discussed. The artist was known for systematically abandoning projects he was commissioned to execute, despite measures taken by clients with contracts, special clauses and so on. He did not define himself as a painter but rather as an architect and engineer, and even as a sculptor. However, his reputation during his lifetime reached levels almost never seen before. In Rome he stayed at the Belvedere palace, the summer residence of the Pope. The king of France invited him to settle in the country towards the end of his life and tried to acquire his scarce works. Isabella d'Este, one of the most important women of the time, went after Leonardo for years trying to get him to finish her portrait, of which only a drawing in very bad condition remains. After his death Leonardo became the paradigm of the "Renaissance man", dedicated to manifold scientific and artistic investigations. His works have influenced the course of art in subsequent centuries, whether they were authentic works by the master or mere imitations or collaborations. His personal life is shrouded in mystery and there is hardly any information about his customs, likes or faults. It is known that he was a strict vegetarian through his letters and writings on anatomy in which he describes omnivores as "devourers of corpses". It also seems quite likely that Leonardo was homosexual. He was persecuted as a result and almost had to face the Inquisition. His protectors always managed to save him from a public trial which often ended in the accused being burnt at the stake. Whatever the case, Leonardo remained single and had no children. His disciples do not seem to have taken up their master's legacy, at least in the pictorial field. The work by those who collaborated with him is practically unknown and of poor quality. The unfinished project that Leonardo carried out for a "Treatise on Painting" ended up in the hands of Francesco de Melzi. However, the young man did not put it in order and did not even conserve it for publication. After a time a provisional edition appeared, unordered and incoherent, but an attempt was made to complete it slowly to give an general impression of Leonardo's ideas regarding painting, architecture, the human body, botany, in short all the subjects that occupied his mind during his lifetime. The artist who was possibly most influenced by Leonardo was [Dürer#pintor_en#1814]. Like the Italian master, Dürer tried to show the scientific nature of painting. He also appreciated Leonardo's interest in the proportions of the human body, the horse and architecture. Like Leonardo, Dürer planned a Treatise on Painting and Proportion that was not published. Both artists, each one in his own country, changed the way painting was beginning to be defined during the Renaissance and gave it an air of modernity that prevailed until contemporary art.

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