2HIS LIFELeonardo da Vinci was born in the little village of Vinci. His father, Piero da Vinci, was a lawyer. His mother was peasant girl named Caterina. Piero's parents took Leonardo into their home and raised him. The boy showed one side of his genius by working out difficult problems in mathematics and engineering. But he showed greatest promise in drawing and painting. As a result, his father took him to Florence to study with Andrea del Verrocchio. Da Vinci studied painting, sculpture, and engineering under Verrocchio. He became soon better than his teacher. He went on working with Verrocchio until about 1476, but he developed a different style.
3MilanIn the early 1480's, Leonardo entered the service of Ludovico Sforza, who later became Duke of Milan. Leonardo went to Milan to design an immense bronze statue in memory of Francesco Sforza. Leonardo never finished this work, but he completed a painting, The Madonna of the Rocks. This painting, was the first to show completely the style for which Leonardo is best known. The painting is at the National Gallery in London.
5FLORENCEIn 1499 Leonardo returned to Florence, where he painted a portrait of the wife of a merchant named Giocondo. The mysterious smile of the woman Leonardo painted in the Mona Lisa or La Gioconda. People appreciate the simplicity and dignity of his painting. The mountain landscape in the background is in perfect atmospheric perspective, and seems to lead the viewer into infinity.
7LATER YEARSLeonardo returned to Milan in 1506, this time he worked for Louis XII of France. He went on studying anatomy, and concentrated his engineering on research on hydraulics and aeronautics. Six years later, he joined Bramante, Raphael, and Michelangelo in Rome to work for Pope Leo X. The four great artists worked on designs and construction of the new Church of St. Peter. Some of them also worked on other new or enlarged buildings and rooms in the Vatican. Several French kings admired Leonardo's work and invited him to live in France. Da Vinci finally accepted in 1516, and settled in the small castle of Cloux, near Amboise. He lived there until he died, on May 2, 1519.
8Clos Lucé in France, where Leonardo lived from 1516 to 1519