1452 - 1519
"It had long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things."
- Leonardo da Vinci
A genius by every conceivable measure, Leonardo Da Vinci envisioned the first airplane, conceptualized a helicopter, a tank, concentrated solar power, a calculator, the double hull – and plate tectonics – while advancing the study of anatomy, civil engineering, optics, and hydrodynamics – all detailed centuries before modern science would prove him right. Though born out-of-wedlock and the recipient of only a modest education, Da Vinci was gifted with an insatiable curiosity about how things worked. He indulged his fascination with nature, and honed his considerable artistic gifts, by capturing in exquisite detail virtually every aspect of the world around him in hundreds of notebooks. Through his studies of light and shadow, his mastery of perspective drawing, and his experiments with pigment and media, Da Vinci perfected a muted style of portraiture that produced reflected depth through the application of thousands of nearly transparent - but slightly tinted - brushstrokes. Notorious in his own time for having far more unfinished artistic works than completed commissions, Da Vinci is nonetheless considered to be the greatest artist of all time; with his Last Supper and Mona Lisa among the most famous paintings ever created. A man of great physical strength and unrivaled beauty, he was 24 when he was arrested for sodomy – a not uncommon occurrence for an artist in 16th century Florence – but the charge was dismissed due a lack of witnesses who would testify. Boldly he comported himself without apology, eschewing the conventional drab garb of his day in favor of brightly colored hose and tunics. His renowned artistic obsession with the nude male form was emblematic of the ever-changing court of remarkably beautiful young men with which he surrounded himself. Of them all his longest association was with the irascible and raffish “Salai” – nickname for “Devil” – who was his model, his companion, and lover for most of the last thirty years of his life. Perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived, Leonardo da Vinci passed away at age 67 in France. The quintessential “Renaissance Man,” the scope and depth of his interests were without precedent.
Sexual Orientation Gay
Gender Identity Cisgender
Nations Affiliated Italy France
Era/Epoch Renaissance/Reformation (1300-1700)
Field(s) of Contribution
Commemorations & Honors
American Society of Mechanical Engineers Leonardo da Vinci Award (1978)
Leonardo Among the Members of the Fictional Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1984)
Biannual Leonardo da Vinci World Award of Arts (1999)
Google Doodle Commemorating da Vinci's 533rd Birthday (2005)