Leonardo da Vinci’s genius: 7 of his visions for the future

On the 500th anniversary of the artist and inventor’s death, Marina Wallace explores seven of his most forward-thinking ideas and inventions – from the telescope to the flying machine

Da Vinci's sketch 'The Vitruvian Man'. Da Vinci's talents ranged from anatomy to military engineering, and many of his innovations were not explored further for several centuries. (Photo by: Photo12/UIG via Getty Images)

Leonardo da Vinci: a life and legacy

Da Vinci was born in Vinci, Tuscany in 1452, the illegitimate son of a Florentine notary and a young peasant. Little is known of his childhood, but his artistic talent must have been apparent at an early age for, at 14, he was apprenticed to one of the most well-known Florentine workshops of the day: that of painter and sculptor Andrea del Verrocchio.

In 1482, now an artist in his own right, da Vinci moved from Florence to Milan in search of new work. There, he began working as a military engineer for Ludovico Sforza, future Duke of Milan, designing many of his famous war inventions. It was also during his time in the city that da Vinci created one of his most famous works, The Last Supper.

Da Vinci spent 17 years in Milan, painting, sculpting and recording new inventions and scientific and anatomical observations in a series of notebooks. But in 1499, the French invasion of the city brought his employment with Sforza to an end and da Vinci spent several years travelling around Italy working on a variety of projects. Among these was the Mona Lisa, a painting believed to have been started in 1503, and The Virgin and Child with St Anne (1510).

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