With 2019 marking the 500th anniversary of the death of master innovator and painter Leonardo da Vinci, it seems that we’re still just as fascinated by the life of the famous Italian artist now as we have ever been.
But how much do you actually know about Leonardo and why has he left such a lasting impression on artists, engineers and architects to this day?
Here are a few interesting facts about the late artist that show why his work is still impressive in 2019.
Baby Leonardo was born out of wedlock
A deeply scandalous occurrence at the time, Leonardo da Vinci was born on the 15th of April 1452 in the Italian region that we now know as modern Tuscany to unwed parents. His mother, a lowly peasant named Catrina and father, a landlord and lawyer by profession never wed, making the young Leonardo illegitimate.
However, Leonardo was actually closer to his father than his mother, although he spent the first five years of his life living with her before moving in with his father.
An unusual early education
Luckily for young Leonardo, his father was quite an affluent man and was able to have him educated at home, although this education only covered reading, writing and mathematics. There was no Greek or Latin scholarship, and it wasn’t until much later that someone noticed his flair for drawing.
In fact, the master charged with nurturing the talented youngster (Andrea del Verrocchio) was so impressed by his drawing of a painting of an angel that Verrocchio decided never to paint again!
A fondness for secrets
Leonardo was thought to have been a highly secretive person during his lifetime, with a fondness for puns which we can see evident in his surviving paintings. He also wrote from right to left so to make his notes difficult to read without the use of a mirror.
Another great love of the painter was animals, and he was known to purchase caged birds and other creatures just to set them free. He was a committed vegetarian throughout his adult life, making him something of an oddity to his meat-eating associates during the period.
A perfectionist, Leonardo took years to finish many of his drawings, designs and paintings. There are dozens of surviving pieces that are half-finished and many designs that never made it past the drawing board.
However, there is evidence that many of his designs did actually get built but sadly failed to have the impact he was expecting.