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
Leonardo Da Vinci conceived 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 conceived and detailed centuries before modern science would prove him right. Considered to be one of the greatest artists of all time, his Mona Lisa and The Last Supper are among the most famous paintings ever created. He was a man of extraordinary strength and physical beauty who never married; indeed there is no record of any woman in his life – not even a friendship – though he lived for 89 years. When he was 24, he was arrested for sodomy – a not uncommon occurrence for an artist in 16th century Florence – but charge that was dismissed due a lack of witnesses who would testify. 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 a young man, nicknamed Salai, who was his model, his companion and, most likely, his lover. Their relationship spanned thirty years and it was to Salai that Da Vinci bequeathed the Mona Lisa – not surprising given speculation that it was actually Salai, and not a woman, who posed for the portrait. As the quintessential “Renaissance Man” the scope and depth of Da Vinci’s interests were without precedent. He is perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived.
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)