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Leonardo da Vinci- The Genius











Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci was born April 15,1452. Although, he was the illegitimate son of a rich lawyer, Leonardo spent the first five years of his life living with his mother....... a peasant. Leonardo's talents were many, and his genius incomprehensible. Even today, his visions leave us in awe; the sketchbooks he filled with dreams; dreams that were at the time seen as impossible, dreams that have since seen fruition as technology has advanced. How many of this man's dreams have come to life, and would he have been surprised that they have? I think not.

Leonardo Da Vinci was a painter, a sculptor, and a musician; he was a vegetarian who studied botany, and he purchased birds at the market for no other purpose than to set them free. He was a teacher, and a mentor for the poor boys he took in as apprentices. Poor boys, and in some cases young thieves, children he saved from the streets even when others believed that those boys weren't worth saving. One, a boy named Zoro, eventually became a famous artist in his own right; he was the pupil who also contributed to many of his teacher's paintings, and their individual brushstrokes are indecipherable. But if Zoro were alive today I think that his most memorable time with his teacher would have been the flying; Leonardo's lifelong obsession with flight immortalized Zoro as he will always be remembered for his leap from Mount Ceccero, a leap that would become legend. Somehow, I think Zoro probably found the broken leg he suffered during the leap well worth the experience, but I doubt that Leonardo found the destruction of his craft worth either; Zoro had taken the flying machine without permission, and no matter the height or length of his flight........... he had flown.

Another young boy, a thief named Salai, was taken in by Leonardo at the age of ten. Each of Salai's actions were noted by his master in his notebooks. Leonardo once recorded the words, "THIEF, LIAR, OBSTINATE GLUTTON," on one of those pages, and Salai responded to these words with a number of drawings; the drawings were obscene. Regardless of the fact that Salai had no discernable talents, he resided with Leonardo until his master's passing in 1519, and his value can be noted by the fact that he was bequeathed a substantial amount of property.

One of Leonardo da Vinci's greatest desires was to make a pictorial record of everything in the world, a dictionary of pictures. He was also a self-taught scientist and engineer; he was years ahead of his time. Leonardo da Vinci believed that anything was possible, and that we should strive to understand everything. He was a Renaissance Man, he was an artist, an architect, a visionary, and an engineer; he was a student, a teacher, an astronomer, and most importantly an inventor. Leonardo da Vinci was quite simply and without doubt, a genius.

Baptism of Christ--Verricchio

Baptism of Christ--Verricchio

The Virgin Mother--A Happy Mom

The Virgin Mother--A Happy Mom

The Mona Lisa

The Mona Lisa

La Scapigliata--A Woman Uncombed--                    My Personal Favorite

La Scapigliata--A Woman Uncombed-- My Personal Favorite

The Artist

Little is known of Leonardo da Vinci's childhood, but we do know that even as a small boy he found delight in drawing pictures. The countryside became his muse, and through his sketches he depicted the world around him; plants, insects, flowers, animals, and most importantly, birds. Leonardo's love for our feathered friends inspired him in a multitude of ways; his study of their wings made its way into his paintings, and it became quite literally what we see as the "wings of angels." Later, that same love of birds made its way into his sketchbook, and the wings of the birds he'd become infatuated with became a variety of machines with which man might fly. I admit, to sit in an airport with this man would be an unbelievable thing; a mere five minutes to see the look on his face would be as priceless as anything he left behind.

In 1457, at the age of five, Leonardo left the hamlet of Anchiano, and moved to Vinci where he lived with his father and grandparents. While in Vinci, he received a rudimentary education in Latin, Geometry, and Mathematics before being apprenticed to an artist known as Verricchio in Florence. During his years with Verricchio, Leonardo honed his craft and perfected his gift in the art of painting. By the time he was twenty he'd helped his teacher finish the Baptism of Christ. This painting unknowingly became more than just a Verricchio masterpiece, it became the introduction to a master, and the master is introduced in the form of the angel kneeling in a corner; the angel was da Vinci's.

Leonardo went on to paint many beautiful portraits; he was also one of the first painters to depict the Mother Mary at play with her son; he gave Mary the realism she deserved, and the face of a mom........... a mom who smiled, a mom who visibly loved motherhood. It was his gift for realism that made him such a great painter; his brushstrokes were so smooth you couldn't see them, and his talent for transition was unequaled; his paintings gave the illusion of movement, they conveyed life, they were engaging (tell me you've never thought the Mona Lisa was looking back into your eyes?), and they told stories. Every canvas was a masterpiece.


The Scientist and Engineer

From the time he was a young man Leonardo da Vinci kept notebooks. They were filled with drawings, inventions, architectural plans, and most revealing of all, the artist's notations. He was a master draftsman. In 1482, Leonardo left Florence to live and work in Milan; it was there that he painted the famous Virgin of the Rocks and the Mona Lisa, but before he made that historical move he had made a promise to the Duke of Milan, a promise to design and make the war machines that would protect the Duke and his people from their enemies. His sketches were erratic, and their purpose belied his true feelings. Leonardo was a gentle man and he hated conflict; he was against war, and yet he had promised to create machines that would be used for death and destruction. Many of his designs looked as if they'd do the jobs they were intended for; others, didn't look as if they'd work at all. His sketches included armored cars, enormous crossbows, and horse drawn war machines.

After the Mona Lisa's completion Leonardo's interest in painting waned as he became more and more interested in the world of science, engineering, and simply using his knowledge to create. The last years of Leonardo da Vinci's life were spent away from his birthplace, in another country, as a guest of yet another king, the King of France.

It is here that we will return to Leonardo's observation of birds, the way they moved in the sky, their ability to take flight and soar. His notebooks were filled their inspiration, most notably the span of their wings. He also studied the vulture, after which he began to make a very in depth study of the bat, believing that this mammal with its birdlike, winged body had evolved into the most acrobatic creatures in the sky; he was mesmerized. His studies and sketches left us with what would become the parachute, the helicopter........... the flying machine. He used wire, glue, leather, cane, and the horns of steer in it's building, but he never realized his dream of flight.......... that would come years later to the men who took up that dream and realized it for him.

Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks are filled with amazing drawings; insects, plants, flowers, creatures that crawl, creatures that walk, and creatures that fly. They were detailed and complete chronicles of his study of the human body, its anatomy, the circulatory system, and the miraculous changes during a baby's gestation, all of these can be found in the more than 4,000 pages of written manuscript he left behind. Within their pages we not only share his thoughts, we dream his dreams, and we are the generation that has seen many of his dreams come true. They weren't crazy; they were visionary, and today he is not only seen as a great artist, he is seen for the genius he was. The pictures of a brilliant man, the imagination of an artist, and the precision of an engineer can be found in a collection of notebooks that have long survived his death and continue to pay tribute to the man he was. Parachutes, bicycles, machines of war, life preservers, diving suits, and spectacles; all can be found in their pages. What seems to have been intended to become an Encyclopedia of Knowledge was actually left behind as the ultimate legacy, a legacy left to the world he so enjoyed, and to those of us who appreciate the man he was............ simply, a genius.

Note: Leonardo da Vinci's notebooks were not only filled with drawings and ideas, their margins were filled with notations, and the pages of these books could almost be seen as an educational diary of observations; Leonardo was a watcher, and he missed nothing, but his genius may have at times been eclisped by the many things he never completed; so many projects; so little time.

 If you look closely at the pictures of his notebooks it is easy to see that what he wrote, he wrote for himself. It is said that he may have written from right to left because it was easier; he was left handed after all, but the majority believe that his writing, backwards, written in a mirrored image, was a form of secrecy, as were the words that were linguistically indecipherable. Had he intended to publish an Encyclopedia of Knowledge his secrecy would be understandable, it could easily be stolen. Had he done it for any other reason just adds another dimension to his character, another mystery that will never be unraveled.



No writing about Leonardo da Vinci would be complete without The Last Supper. His greatest work was commissioned by the church and painted specifically for a dining room wall in the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in Milan, Italy.

The Last Supper depicts the Jesus and the twelve apostles; his closest friends and disciples finishing their last meal together. If you look closely at the painting you can see exactly what he meant to convey, and that would be emotion. Each and every portrayal brims with one emotion or another; concern, love, bewilderment; the desire of the disciples to understand what their master has spoken of. Only Jesus seems calm, and he is distanced from the rest of the scene because of that countenance, he seems tranquil, settled, and resolved; while all around him we can see contrast in the anxiety and disorder that engulfs his companions. Leonardo has placed the men on canvas in a way that the viewer sees the illusion of movement, something no artist had ever done before.

The Last Supper was Leonardo da Vinci's greatest work. Unfortunately, the painting itself is showing its age, and certain parts are hard to see because the paint is wearing away and chipping off. Famous for mixing his own paint, it seems that the colors blended for The Last Supper were not his best. Hopefully, the day will come when it can be completely restored.


Kaie Arwen (author) on October 15, 2015:

Thank you Jodah!

John Hansen from Queensland Australia on June 14, 2015:

Wonderful hub.

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on June 28, 2012:

You provided great information on Da Vinci and again, the paintings and illustrations that accompany this article are wonderful. He was the genius of all geniuses. Many were gifted n one area, but Da Vinci's scope of greatness in uncomparable. Thanks again for an interesting and inspiring article.

Kaie Arwen (author) on March 24, 2012:

cnoc cnoc- Thank you for your gracious words................ Hubpages is filled with intelligent thought, and I am thankful to be a part of its community. I look forward to reading your work, and you are very welcome! Kaie

cnoc cnoc on March 12, 2012:

A wonderful chance encounter. This what surfing the web was invented for. Kae, you have a very succinct way of outlining your ideas that keeps them lucid and read to the end. Signed up immediately and am looking forward to so much more. I hope my contributions match up to the high standard set here. Forget those amateurish social pages, this is real sharing of intelligent thought. Thank you.

Kaie Arwen (author) on January 05, 2012:

Yes it is! Thank you..........

ashna sambhar on January 03, 2012:

very true

Kaie Arwen (author) on October 10, 2011:

suzette- thanks again............ I'm glad you enjoyed!

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on September 08, 2011:

Another suburb hub! I enjoyed reading this. It is amazing to see the different areas of genius given to one man. Just a wonderful read!

Kaie Arwen (author) on March 07, 2011:

Atrzgirl- Thank you.......... I have "fanned" you back, and I'll be over to read some of your Hubs soon. You have some interesting titles there! Happy you stopped by ~ Kaie

Camaron Elliott from San Diego on March 05, 2011:

Thanks for sharing this! Awesome report! I'm a new fan of yours!!!

Kaie Arwen (author) on December 27, 2010:

Silver Poet- His brilliance is without question! Glad to have been able to provide you with a little of the unknown........... thanks for stopping by and commenting! Kaie

Silver Poet from the computer of a midwestern American writer on December 27, 2010:

I always knew he was brilliant both as a painter and inventor, but I didn't know all the details, nor that he took in orphans and taught them how to paint. :)

Kaie Arwen (author) on August 18, 2010:

GmaGoldie- Thank you..............La Scapigliata is breathtaking............ pure innocence!

You are very welcome.......... and thank you for stopping by to read! Kaie

Kelly Kline Burnett from Madison, Wisconsin on August 17, 2010:

Wonderful Hub! Awesome details and enjoyed your personal favorite - mine too! The dynamics of the relationships of the great artists are fascinating too! Thank you for making this creative genius come to life.

Kaie Arwen (author) on August 04, 2010:

days leaper- Well said, I hadn't thought of that in terms of "genius," you might be right, and I am more than happy to have your story of Judas included; it was fascinating! Thanks again, Kaie

days leaper from england on August 03, 2010:

A pleasure, your Welcome! Thanks for including mein your hub about this great man.

The term "Ahead of his time" always makes me smirk, because it arrogantly suggests that if said person was born today he perhaps might not be so far advanced. Therefore I hereby say the term "GENIUS!!!" is the only word that adequately describes this man, I feel he would find some way to show being ahead of any time he lands in!

Hope you agree.

Kaie Arwen (author) on August 02, 2010:

days leaper- This man had so many concepts and ideas floating around in his mind that it might have exploded had he taken the time to really see them through to fruition. I've often wondered if he ever really slept............

That's a great addition to the Judas story........... thanks for that, and thanks for stopping by! Kaie

days leaper from england on August 01, 2010:

A true genius. A pity he didn't keep his mind on things to their fruition. Still he would have to find board and lodgings in the process.

The Judas story I heard. He was taking a long time to finish the painting. So much so that one of the ministers got inpatient and took Leonardo to court.

When the judge ask why the painting wasn't finished.

He replied "I have searched the prisions, but feel I have not found a face hideous enough to be suitable for painting. If your honour does not consider me worthy of more time, please send to me the minister that summoned me here and I am sure I will find his face most suitable!"

The judge is said to have laughed very loudly, and thrown the case out.

I agree DaVinci was a true genius of many things. Nice tribute!

Kaie Arwen (author) on June 10, 2010:

johnnyco12- I'm glad you enjoyed the Hub. I find Da Vinci fascinating.

I view the Da Vinci Code as an "average" at best film, and I believe I was the last of all my friends to actually sit down and read the novel. Don't tell anyone.......... but I never finished it! :-D

I'd never heard the story about Judas, but yes, it is a great legend. You never know........

Thank you for stopping by and for the commendation; it is appreciated.


johnnyco12 from Pascagoula, Ms on June 10, 2010:

I was absolutely mesmerized by this article! This may very well be one of the best articles that I have ever read on Hubpages. I am a history buff and love Da Vinci,for this reason I was appalled by that blasphemous desecration Ron Howard produced as the Da Vinci code. Leonardo would have turned over in his grave! However since there are no writers left in Hollywood they have to do something to be able to eat. Have you ever heard the legend of the "Last Supper"? Legend has it that Da Vinci had finished all his Characters for the painting except Judas Iscariot, and try as he may, he could not find a model for Judas that looked convincing enough to him. Finally someone told him of a prisoner in the local jail whom they felt fit the profile perfectly. So Leonardo went to the prison and sure enough, there, standing before him was the perfect image of Judas. Da Vinci introduced himself and asked if the man would consider modeling for him as Judas Iscariot in his painting. The poor fellow was shocked and asked Leonardo "Don't you recognize me?" Much to his embarrassment the artist said no. The prisoner then replied, "You painted me as the Christ 20 years ago." Not sure if it's true but a good legend non the less. I commend you on your masterpiece.

Kaie Arwen (author) on May 26, 2010:

MPG Narratives- thank you very much for the compliments; they are truly appreciated!

I'm with you............ this world will most likely never see another Leonardo, then again, there might be some young sprite doodling in a notebook as I write this! One never knows..........

thanks again,


Maria Giunta from Sydney, Australia on May 26, 2010:

Kaie, you have done an amazing man justice with this awesome hub, well done. I doubt there will ever be another Leonardo.

Kaie Arwen (author) on May 21, 2010:

U Neek- Thank you, and you are very welcome!


Kaie Arwen (author) on May 21, 2010:

Kendall H. - Yes, he's simply the best! Not much more I can add to that. La Scapigliata............ my absolute favorite; truly beautiful!


U Neek from Georgia, USA on May 20, 2010:

You've done a great job here of summarizing Leonardo's life. Thanks for sharing!

Kendall H. from Northern CA on May 19, 2010:

Ah Leonardo da Vinci! The best artist...I'm just grateful that we mere mortals still have some drawings and paintings left to enjoy. La Scapigliata is wonderful isn't it?!

Kaie Arwen (author) on May 19, 2010:

Gift Experts- Thank you............ the classics are a great thing to be into ;-)

Thank you for coming by and commenting-


Gift Experts on May 19, 2010:

Super Hubs here! Into the classics, too :)

Kaie Arwen (author) on May 17, 2010:

Ign Andy- Thank you, and yes, he is a genius! I haven't heard about that program; I will have to get it together and look for it. I think I get BBC in my cable package............. thank you for the homework! ;-)


Ign Andy from Green Home Office on May 16, 2010:

I believe this man is all time genius, he is centuries ahead of his time. Just saw his Leanardo movie in BBC program a couple week ago. Great hub.

Kaie Arwen (author) on April 26, 2010:

Sam Askew- Thank you, I'm glad you stopped by, and I'm looking forward to the next set of Hubs you mentioned! I will be watching for them!


Sam Askew from McLean, VA on April 26, 2010:

Great article ... w/Great Illustrations ... you have captured his genius.


Kaie Arwen (author) on April 23, 2010:

Hypnodude- You're supposed to be out picking flowers! :-D However, I'm am happy to see you here. Yes, he was a genius; no doubt about that...........

Stumbled? You've got me there???????????????

:-/ Kaie

Andrew from Italy on April 23, 2010:

Leonardo was probably the greatest genius ever existed. Wonderful and detailed hub, rated and stumbled.

Kaie Arwen (author) on April 22, 2010:

Cheeky Girl- Thank you and you are very welcome! I'm glad you were here, and that you left your comments.......... they are appreciated!


Kaie Arwen (author) on April 22, 2010:

GPAGE- Good to see you, and I agree with you completely........ there are always new things to learn.

As far as childhoods go............ you've got it again........... good or bad our childhoods influence the people we become, but they do not define who we are; we do that all by ourselves.

Thanks for stopping by!


Cassandra Mantis from UK and Nerujenia on April 22, 2010:

A great Hub about a true genius, probably the greatest of all, since he explored so many areas and nothing was beyond him. How many people can say the same? He really did accomplish so much and lived a very full and interesting life. This is so impressing me here! Thanks for a great Hub!

GPAGE from California on April 21, 2010:

Kaie...Another great informative hub from you! It is hard to compliment such an amazing artist, because it is a "given" when you look at the work of this genious. BUT the cool thing about reading more about the artist is learning new things about their history....Thank you for bringing this here to share...I have heard snippets in different places and in Europe, but always enjoy reading even more details.....One of my favorite things is learning about peoples childhoods and how they come into their own...... Best, G

Kaie Arwen (author) on April 21, 2010:

Maven101- Thank you and you are very welcome! Yes, he had hidden messages everywhere............ the Vitruvian Man is indeed a marvel; you know your art!

Thanks again!


Kaie Arwen (author) on April 21, 2010:

James- Uh oh! I'm out of order here............... I amaze you? Have to keep you on your toes......I do believe there isn't much you don't already know ;-D

My son would call it "all of the things she knows that nobody else cares about." It's always wonderful to know that someone else enjoys the things I carry around in my head............. Zoro lives on!

Glad you enjoyed!


Kaie Arwen (author) on April 21, 2010:

sarovai- I'm glad I taught you something new! One thing about great artists- they have as many faces and as many sides as the work they produce- I don't know it's possible to find them all............ but I look!


Kaie Arwen (author) on April 21, 2010:

breakfastpop- Thank you.......... I hope I did him justice; he was indeed remarkable!


Larry Conners from Northern Arizona on April 20, 2010:

Hi Kaie...This is a well-organized and informative Hub of the Great One...I have always marveled at his Vitruvian Man, and the hidden messages that he has incorporated in plain sight...the golden ratio, the symbolism of the spiritual ( circle ) and the natural ( square ) forces within man, and the beautiful proportioning of eight heads vertical and eight heads horizontal...Thank you for this...Larry

sarovai on April 20, 2010:

You made me to know the other side of Leonardo. Thank u for sharing.

James A Watkins from Chicago on April 20, 2010:

You continue to amaze me, my dear. I learned a lot of new things, such as the bit about Zoro. This is a man for all time to admire. You created a remarkable Hub and several of the fascinating pictures are new to me. I couldn't have enjoyed this more. Thank you!

breakfastpop on April 20, 2010:

Wonderful hub about a truly remarkable and gifted man. Well done!

Kaie Arwen (author) on April 19, 2010:

Quill- Yes, this was a man who was blessed in so many ways that he was able to leave tangible accounts of those blessings behind for the generations that followed him. He was given great gifts, and he used those gifts to give back.

Thank you for your comments.......... they are always appreciated!


"Quill" on April 19, 2010:

What a tribute you have compiled Kaie and a worthy subject as he has blessed many over the years, well delivered and as always interesting...

Blessings and Hugs

Kaie Arwen (author) on April 19, 2010:

Randy Godwin- I've heard that rumor too, but although I'll admit the man's humor sometimes sneaks into his art; I don't believe the rumor about the shroud, but a trickster.......... yeah, he was that!

Thank you....... I'm glad you stopped by!


Kaie Arwen (author) on April 19, 2010:

habee- I completely agree. For all of the paintings I could have chosen I kept coming back to the sketches........ and here they are.

My favorite painting, La Scapigliata, appeals to me for the same reason...... it's simply beautiful......... uncombed or not!

Thanks for coming by!


Randy Godwin from Southern Georgia on April 19, 2010:

It is suggested by some that Leonardo created the "shroud of Turin" because of it's resemblance to sketches he made while endeavoring to draw the perfect face.

He was quite the trickster, so this makes sense in a way. Good hub!

Holle Abee from Georgia on April 19, 2010:

Amazing! I love his drawings even more than his paintings. He was truly a genius!

Kaie Arwen (author) on April 19, 2010:

dohn121- Thank you........... he is all of that! I'm glad you enjoyed, and these pictures were definitely a joy to look for..........

Thanks again,


dohn121 from Hudson Valley, New York on April 19, 2010:

What better way to pay homage to one of the world's greatest talents, visionaries, and geniuses of all time? Awesome work, Kaie! I enjoyed every bit of it. I especially liked all the great pics you included. Thank you for writing and sharing such a great hub!


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