Leonardo da Vinci was a creative man who mastered numerous aspects of art including painting, sculpting and architecture. Leonardo was born in 1452 in a small town in Tuscany. His artistic genius was apparent early on and by age 15, Leonardo was apprenticing with famed Florentine painter and sculptor Andrea del Verrocchio. Leonardo died in 1519 at the age of 67.
The Mona Lisa
Leonardo da Vinci is most famous for painting the "Mona Lisa," one of the world's best-known and most widely recognized works of art. In 1503, when da Vinci went to Florence, Italy, he was commissioned by a friend of his father's to paint a portrait; Francesco del Giocondo wanted a painting done of his wife, Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo. The result was the "Mona Lisa," which was completed in 1506.
The first phase of da Vinci's creative life took place in Florence, Italy, from 1467 to 1482. His first painting -- a collaboration with Verrocchio -- was "The Baptism of Christ." "The Annunciation" is another collaborative painting of da Vinci's during this period, although he is solely credited with creating the angel's figure, the landscape and the overall composition of the piece. During this period, da Vinci painted "Madonna with the Carnation," "Madonna Benois" and the "Portrait of Ginevra de'Benci." Leonardo began but never completed an altar piece painting -- "St. Hieronymus" -- and also didn't finish a wall panel, "Adoration of the Magi."
From 1482 to 1499, da Vinci lived in Milan in a quest to work alongside the ruler of the city, Ludovico Sforza. Ludovico was convinced of Leonardo's value and financed the artist's workshop for 18 years. During this period, da Vinci made a matching altar piece and painting titled "The Virgin of the Rocks." He went on to create the "Portrait of Cecilia Gallerani," "Portrait of an Unknown Woman," "The Last Supper" and a handful of small Madonnas. Leonardo created a statue of Ludovico's father on a horse but didn't see it through to completion. During this time and continuing until his death, da Vinci worked on the "Treatise on Painting," basically a how-to manual for painters.
Italy and France
At the turn of the century, da Vinci left Milan and traveled through Italy. During the period, he painted "Virgin and Child with St. Anne" and the "Madonna of the Yarnwinder." He went on to create the "Mona Lisa" followed by an unfinished wall painting in the government building in Florence. Leonardo also painted "Leda and the Swan" and a second version of "The Virgin of the Rocks." Turning back to sculpting, he started another horse and rider statue, this time for General Giangiacomo Trivulzio, but did not finish it. Leonardo's final painted piece was "St. John the Baptist."
- "Mona Lisa: Inside the Painting"; Jean-Pierre Mohen; 2006
- "Leonardo's Universe: The Renaissance World of Leonardo da Vinci"; Bulent Atalay; 2008
- "Leonardo da Vinci : The Genius Who Defined the Renaissance"; John Phillips; 2006
- Photos.com/Photos.com/Getty Images