Leonardo da Vinci
died on at the age of 67. He was a wise man always living in the moment. My
favorite saying of his is “A well-filled day gives a good sleep. A well-filled
life gives a peaceful death.” The influence from the world around him and knowledge
in science, engineering, and art helped him develop a one of a kind philosophy.
There’s no doubt Leonardo da Vinci found most of his influence through
observing the natural world surrounding him. He used his observations of nature
to seek the truth. Growing up in the renaissance helped Leonardo become a historical
artist. Andrea del Verrocchio played a perfect role model for Leonardo da Vinci
growing up. Verrocchio developed Leonardo da Vinci into his full potential.
Once Verrocchio noticed Leonardo had surpassed his skills he did the right
thing and passed over the torch. Niccolo Machiavelli was the first to influence
Leonardo to start thinking politically. It’s safe to say that Leonardo’s environment
influenced him to keep striving with new ideas. Nowadays, Scientists, artists,
philosophers, and engineers

In 1503, Leonardo da Vinci began working
on the Mona Lisa. In the painting Leonardo
ties together, humanity with nature. Humanity and nature are the two most
influential things in Leonardo’s artistic life. According to Leonardo, man was
nature’s most perfect creation, “the measure of all things.” The
scenery of rivers from his sketches are incorporated into the background of the
Mona Lisa. It’s rumored that the Mona Lisa might be someone Leonardo da
Vinci lusts for. In 1506, the French governor called on Leonardo da Vinci to
come back to Milan, where he will become the court painter and engineer to King
Louis XII of France. Moving back allowed Leonardo da Vinci to work freely and
spend more time on his many engineering projects. While living in France, Leonardo
opened a substantially sized workshop with multiple assistants and apprentices.
In 1513 Leonardo da Vinci moved to Rome under the rule of Giuliano de Medici. The
aging Leonardo da Vinci was given a suite of rooms in Giuliano’s house. With no
major art projects to work on Leonardo tended to focus on his engineering and
scientific studies.

Last Supper is Leonardo’s most iconic piece of religious
artwork. Leonardo da Vinci painted The Last
Supper for the Duke of Milan. The Biblical episode of The Last Supper is told in all four of the gospels and is one of
the most referenced events in all of Christianity. The painting pictures Jesus
with all his apostles sitting around him at the dinner table. Each apostle is displaying
their different emotions because Jesus says that one apostle will betray him. Since
a young church boy, Leonardo da Vinci always had an interest in religious art. Although
this piece represents the past I still think Leonardo took inspiration from his
present day. The Last supper has
influenced many modern artists to create their own version of the dinner.

Niccolo Machiavelli was a political
observer for the city of Florence. Machiavelli was the first one to spark Leonardo
da Vinci’s curiosity for politics. During Leonardo’s da Vinci time, Niccolo Machiavelli,
was known as a renowned writer and political thinker. Leonardo da Vinci was
interested in a substantial waterworks project that Machiavelli was working on.
Machiavelli wanted to make Florence more water accessible by building a system
of canals for economic and military purposes. In addition, Leonardo worked on installing
irrigation that would bring water to farmers. Their goal was to build Florence
into the most powerful city in Italy. While working on this project Leonardo da
Vinci learned how to survey and take measurements of land. His maps of canals
flowing through valleys and mountains set the foundation for modern
cartography. Unfortunately, Leonardo and Machiavelli’s water project would be
abandoned because it kept getting destroyed by floods. Throughout his work
Leonardo gained tremendous knowledge of geology. Leonardo had the ability to
create visualizations of what natural forms of land looked like from space.

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Andrea Del Verrocchio was a popular sculptor,
painter, and goldsmith in the city of Florence. He had a profound influence on
leading artists in the Renaissance. Young artists were attracted to Verrocchio’s
creative thinking. Leonardo da Vinci would eventually spend years working on important
projects in Verrocchio’s studio. When Leonardo was 20 years old he was accepted
into the San Luca guild of painters in Florence. However, he stayed in contact
with the Verrocchio studio for several more years. Once Leonardo da Vinci finished
his apprenticeship he began painting in a more sculptural style. Leonardo began
his professional career after ten years with Verrocchio. Leonardo needs people
who allow him freedom to explore his own ideas. In Leonardo’s paintings he
learns how to convey density and transparency. It is said that Verrocchio
assigned Leonardo to paint an angel in a painting he was working on, “The
Baptism of Christ.” Once Verrocchio saw how Leonardo handled the light and
shadow, he was convinced his young student had possessed supreme artistic
talent. Andrea Del Verrocchio felt that he needed to pass the torch. Verrocchio
influenced multiple creations of the Renaissance and continued to have an
influence Leonardo da Vinci.

            Before moving to Florence, the
artwork in his local churches was the first thing to inspire him. One year
after moving into his father’s household, Leonardo’s father moved the family to
Florence. Working for the Medici family at the age of fifteen, Leonardo was
already showing great promise as a painter. Leonardo’s father was a highly
respected figure in the Florence community. In 1467, Leonardo’s father
apprenticed him to Andrea del Verrocchio the most prominent artist in Florence.
Verrocchio’s art and engineering studio brought together the best young
artistic talent of Italy. Shadowing the famous artist on extensive art projects
helped Leonardo form his dedicated  skillset. He believed there are limitations
when seeking truth from The Bible and
other ancient writings. Instead of learning about nature through past religion
and meditation, Leonardo found the truth by observing the natural world. Early
in his artistic career he began studying the human body, landscapes, animals,
and plants intensely in his search to understand all-natural things. Leonardo
da Vinci saw the world as a living entity, with all its elements in a constant
rate of change. He believed a true artist first visualizes ideas in his mind
and then in his hands. The scientific method was an important part to his everyday
life, including his art and music. An interest in nature led Leonardo to start
observing and asking scientific questions like, “How do birds fly?” Leonardo da
Vinci speculated that one could fly by imitating the way birds flap their
wings. A quote from Leonardo states “Once you have flown, you will walk the
earth with your eyes turned skyward; for there you have been, there you long to
return.” Every one of Leonardo’s observations was recorded and sketched out. His
goal as an artist was to remake nature in his art. Many of his observations
compared the natural world to the human body. For example, Leonardo noticed a
similarity in the way water would flow in a stream as it did in the veins. The
human sense he admired the most was sight because it is the “window of the
soul.” The human eye is the key to for observation. There’s no doubt the human
body was a main influence for Leonardo.

            Leonardo da Vinci was born in the hills of
Tuscany, Italy, in 1452. He always had an interest and respect for nature and
animals. He spent his childhood exploring the hills and searching through the
forest to observe birds. Leonardo recalls his earliest childhood memory of a
bird that flew over to him in his cradle, the bird influenced him to pursue the
dream of flying. As a young boy he had a fascination with flowing water.
da Vinci has many accomplishments as a sculptor, architect, philosopher,
engineer, and scientist, but was he influenced by past civilizations or present
day? In my opinion, Leonardo was influenced by his present day. His unique and
innovative mind separates him from other renaissance artists that imitated
artwork from past civilizations. Ancient Greek and Roman culture is used as an inspiration
for the renaissance art, science, and philosophy. A lot of renaissance artists
would try to emulate classical Greek architecture, and sculptures. Leonardo’s
father was Piero da Vinci, a wealthy businessman and land owner with lots of powerful
friends. His father provided him with a good education growing up. Early on,
Leonardo displayed signs of being a gifted artist with a very curious mind. He
was also exposed to his families long painting tradition. Piero
da Vinci, Verrocchio, and Machiavelli are just a few influential figures that
surrounded him growing up. From my observations, Leonardo da Vinci is an in the
moment type of person. He mostly formulated most of his ideas through the influence
of the natural world.


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