Leonardo Da Vinci is the greatest European renaissance artist whose work and life is still shrouded in mystery centuries after his death. The world would be a very different place today if not for this genius that brought art and science together. Leonardo Da Vinci was determined to bring art to life by touching on everything from rocks to the human body. His work has influenced every corner of the world which is why he is still considered the greatest artist that ever lived. While the world celebrates this eccentric artist, it is important to look at the shocking and fascinating experiences that surrounded his life.
1 He Never Finished Drawing the Mona Lisa
Leonardo Da Vinci had a strange habit of leaving his works unfinished. Mona Lisa is one of the best paintings in the world today and perfect according to most who have seen it. This mystified painting depicts a sitter with an enigmatic expression which is really hard to express. It is not clear who the person really is but many people believe she was La Gioconda, the wife of a certain famous Florentine. It is not clear if this work was commissioned because Leonardo never gave it to the owner since starting the painting in 1503. He carried it on him all the time for four years but according to Vasari, Da Vinci’s biographer, he abandoned the painting before its completion. Whether he left it that way to send a message or he got paralyzed before finishing it as some people have claimed, Mona Lisa remains the ultimate expression of perfect artwork.
2 He Disagreed With the Biblical Timing of Events
Charles Darwin is believed to be the first man that publicly opposed the biblical version of how the earth was formed but Da Vinci had explained it centuries earlier in his notebook and paintings. Leonardo Da Vinci was an ardent geologist that studied mountain and river formation processes for many years despite being unschooled. While working for Ludovico Sforza in Milan, Da Vinci got a chance of walking in the Alps. He discovered fossils of Fish and seashells up in the mountains. He also studied rock strata along rivers and on the mountain and came to the conclusion that the six-day creation story in the book of Genesis did not add up. Leonardo argued that years of the combined forces of nature was responsible for most of the incredible natural phenomena we see today. It is quite controversial considering the strong Catholic environment he lived in even working for the pope at one time.
3 He Was Almost Executed for Sodomy
Leonardo’s sexuality was a mystery throughout his life and still is even after his death. He never married and is not known to have had close relations with women. Many historians believe that Da Vinci was just a curious scientist who explored the sexuality of both men and women but never got down to getting in a relationship himself. However, in 1476, just around his 24th birthday, Leonardo Da Vinci was anonymously accused of committing acts of Sodomy with a local Goldsmith’s apprentice in Florence. The state was keen on eradicating sodomy at the time and the preferred punishment was burning at the stake. It is not clear if these charges were baseless or true but Leonardo was later released because no witness came forward to support the claim giving him a chance to impress the world a lot more.
4 His Largest Artwork Was Completed 500 Years Later
Da Vinci sought the patronage of Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan in 1482. In return for the patronage, Da Vinci was commissioned to create art for Sforza and Milan. This task was expensive but the duke was committed to paying for it at all cost. His greatest challenge for Da Vinci was creating the largest equestrian statue ever created in the world to honor his father Francesco. Da Vinci created a clay model of the statue but immediately after the duke bought the bronze to build the statue, The French army attacked Milan and the soldiers used Davinci’s clay model as target practice. His designs were discovered in Madrid in 1965 prompting Charles Dent, a retired pilot from Pennsylvania to seek the completion of this great artwork. He bought the services of Nina Akamu, a sculptor who finished the statue in 1999, 500 years after Da Vinci’s death.
5 He Wrote His Works in Reverse
Every artist has a signature and Davinci, being left-handed, coded his work through a detailed right to left scripting. The main reason for writing like this still remains mysterious but it obviously made his work more admirable. Many believe he used mirror writing to hide his personal ideas from other people and the Catholic church. This method of writing not only kept his hands and work clean, but it also allowed him to write faster because he was left-handed. While some people argue that he was dyslexic, other historians simply believe that this was a way of signing his work. However, when writing to other people, Da Vinci wrote in the usual left to write the script. Over 7000 pages of his work exist today and they have to be held against a mirror to be read.
6 He Was an Illegitimate Child
Leonardo Da Vinci was born on April 15th, 1452 In Tuscan, Vinci to Messer Piero Fruosino di Antonia, a legal worker in Florence but he never took his father’s surname. Leonardo Da Vinci Simply means Leonardo of Vinci, no surname because his father had an extramarital affair with Caterina, a peasant from the middle east. Little is known about the rest of his early life and it is not clear whether his father was really in the picture although Da Vinci lived with him at the age of three. However, considering the deep-rooted traditional Catholic values at the time, bastards really had no claim on their father’s fortunes meaning Da Vinci just had to work through life on his own. His father, however, helped him get a position of apprenticeship at the workshop of Verrocchio, one of the most famous artists in Florence at the time.
7 Bill Gates Currently Owns His Precious Original Notebook
There are more than 7000 pages of Leonardo Da Vinci’s work owned by different museums and individuals around the world. This material includes 30 notebooks considered the most expensive written pieces in the world. Bill Gates owns the most famous of these notebooks known as Codex Leicester which he acquired at an auction for $30.8 million. It is considered the most expensive book in the world, also the most valuable artifact of the Italian Renaissance period alongside the Mona Lisa. The 72-page book is more of a collection of brainstorming paperwork than an actual book. Leonardo used it between 1506 to 1510 to write his ideas and philosophies regarding the Earth, sun and the moon among other paintings of human anatomy and parachute designs. It is however messy and difficult to read without a keen eye and, of course, a mirror.
8 He Largely Pioneered the Study of Human Anatomy
Unlike other artists of his time, Leonardo Da Vinci believed in bringing art as close to people’s daily lives and human nature as possible. From a young age, he pictured the human body and really wanted to understand how the organs in the body combined to sustain life. His view was however more mechanical than biological. At his time, the only reliable facts on human anatomy were based on the findings of Galen, a roman anatomist that relied on animal cadavers. He liked dissecting bodies, a practice that brought him trouble many times with Florentine authorities and the church. There were no organ donors at the time so Da Vinci would pick unclaimed bodies of drunkards and outlaws and dissect them. This source of specimen caused him a shortage of female bodies which is why he got the female reproductive system wrong. The rest of his work is, however, accurate and has been used to study anatomy for years.
9 He Designed the First Armored Car
Depending on how you look at it, Da Vinci’s design can be used both as the first design of an armored car or a tank. This design was made in 1485 during Da Vinci’s application for patronage from the Duke of Milan. There was a wave of violence and war as the French and the Ottomans threatened to invade Italy making his designs invaluable. Da Vinci’s war machine was able to move in all directions armed with cannons at 360 degrees to shoot in all directions. If brought to life, this design would have made the ultimate weapon that could infiltrate enemy ranks without getting hit because of the slanting turtle shell design that could deflect enemy fire. Although the design earned Da Vinci a place in Milan, there is no record that his design was ever used by the Duke of Milan. They, however, prove that Da Vinci was a versatile genius able to apply art in every aspect of life.
10 He Was Unschooled
This is the most astonishing aspect of Leonardo Da Vinci’s life because he set off into the world armed with nothing but basic math, reading and writing skills. The only training, he received was at Verrocchio’s art shop in Florence where he learned to paint but his works are way greater than any regular artist. He had may rival artists during his lifetime the most formidable being Michelangelo who received schooling at the Florence Humanists academy but Da Vinci was way better than all of them.
It is now more than 500 years since his death but Leonardo Da Vinci’s work cannot be fully explained by the best scholars of our time but he never attended any school. He was the perfect result of great imagination, curiosity, and determination of exploring the world around him. Davinci is the greatest self-taught scientist and engineer of all time because everything he designed was as a result of his own observation and personal-training.