Artist Images

  • Artist bio: Leonardo da Vinci
  • Born: April 15, 1452 in Florence, Italy
  • Died: May 2, 1519

* How old was Leonard Da Vinci? How old would he be today? Involve kids in math in art!

  • Style/Period: Italian Renaissance – what does this mean? Renaissance was a time period when paper and type became available during the 1500s, therefore books and idea sharing were more available and ideas &learning spread more quickly. Imagine, 500 years ago, paper was an invention!
  • Leonardo da Vinci was an important person in many subjects like art, music, engineering, biology, and mathematics. He mainly lived and worked in Italy during what is known as the Renaissance period, which is known as the birth of ideas!
  • Da Vinci loved to paint, sculpt, write, come up with new inventions, learn about plants, animals, and how the body works.
  • You might know his name from one of the most known paintings in the world, the Mona Lisa (Fig. 1). He had several engineering achievements in his lifetime as well. Some of his most famous engineering achievements was his own invention of a flight machine which resembles the modern day helicopter, as well as coming up with the idea of a calculator, both of which did not exist in his time and were unthinkable to most people living in the Renaissance era (Fig. 2).
  • One of the reasons Leonardo da Vinci was such a great artist, engineer, and biologist is that he loved figuring out how things work. He learned much of what he knew by observing things he saw and in nature.
  • As a child, Leonardo da Vinci enjoyed spending time outside and would closely examine things he saw in nature such as leaves of plants, seeds, bark, trees, bugs, or birds. To help him examine and remember the things he saw in nature, he would bring a pencil and notebook with him and draw or paint detailed drawings of what he was observing (fig. 3-4). He became such a great artist and biologist from drawing what he observed in nature because when you draw things you see, you notice certain details that you might not normally notice.
  • Main take-away: Leonardo da Vinci used his observational skills combined with drawing to help him better understand things he saw in nature, as well as to help him draft up sketches of his inventions and new ideas.

Figure 1. Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa 1503-1517. The Louvre. 2'6" x 1'9"
Figure 2. Leonardo da Vinci Aerial Screw c. late 1400's
Figure 3. Leonardo da Vinci, Study of horses c. 1490. Silver point on prepared paper, 250 x 187 mm. Royal Library, Windsor.
Figure 4. Leonardo da Vinci, Flower study. Metalpoint, pen and ink on slightly brownish paper, 183x201mm. Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice.
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