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Leonardo's life

Possible self-portrait by Leonardo da Vinci

Possible self-portrait by Leonardo da Vinci.
© Biblioteca Reale, Turin.

Leonardo was born in Vinci, near Florence, the illegitimate son of a Florentine lawyer and a young country girl. He was brought up in his father's house and around the age of 15 was apprenticed to the artist Andrea del Verrochio.

About 1482 he left Florence to work primarily as a military and naval engineer for the Duke of Milan. Leonardo recorded his studies in illustrated notebooks covering: painting, architecture, hydraulics, engineering, physics, mechanics, astronomy optics and human anatomy. In 1499 after the invasion of Milan by the French he left and worked throughout Italy.

In 1516 Francis I of France appointed Leonardo 'Premier Painter and Engineer and Architect to the King', a position he held until his death in 1519.

Leonardo was explicit about protecting intellectual property: 'Do not teach your knowledge and you alone will excel'. When he wants to hide his ideas, he leaves out details or only alludes to them. While his drawings of machines look impressive, could they really work? Was he just a dreamer?

For the 2003 BBC One television series Leonardo, experts were commissioned to build and test a glider, a parachute and a diving suit based on his sketches.

Main Main
His life
His insights His insights
Diving apparatus Diving apparatus
Parachute Parachute
Glider Glider
Turning the Pages Turning the Pages
 
 
 
Discover more:
Main Main
His life
His insights His insights
Diving apparatus Diving apparatus
Parachute Parachute
Glider Glider
Turning the Pages Turning the Pages
   
 
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