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Leonardo da Vinci was born on
April 15, 1452 in Vinci, Italy.
While growing up
Leonardo was
fascinated by animals
and insects. Throughout
his long life, he never
stopped studying
nature-plants, anatomy,
the movement of water,
the mechanics of flightand applying his
observations to his art.
An Artist and a Scientist
Because Leonardo the
artist sought for the ideal
face, he skillfully sliced
open the skull to reveal
the brain cavity and see
what lay beneath.
Combining art and
science he analyzed the
proportions of the head.
“We shall describe this mechanical
structure of man by means of diagrams”
Leonardo raised the
study of the “structure
of man” to a science.
He sought to illustrate
the inner structure of
man. His drawings
were so accurate that
they are still used to
illustrate anatomy
texts today.
Animal Studies
Leonardo was often
impatient with men,
but he had a special
fondness for animals.
His lively sketches of
cats are drawn with
great affection. Look
carefully for the cat
that became a dragon.
Man and
At first Leonardo
intended to learn
about the human
body so that he
could paint it
realistically. But
soon he began to
hope that it
would bring him
to the answer to
the riddle of
Leonardo often
watched doctors
perform autopsies
so that he could
study human
anatomy. He later
began dissections
on his own and
carefully sketched
everything that he
The Inventor
Leonardo modeled his
flying machines after his
studies of bird wings. And
though he failed at actually
taking air, his careful and
inventive researches in
aerodynamics made him a
forerunner of modern
Mona Lisa
Leonardo Da Vinci painted
the Mona Lisa on a piece of
pine wood in the year 1506.
Never in the history of Art
has one painting been so
admired. This is due largely
to the enigmatic smile,
which has caused much
speculation. Some people
have even suggested that it
is a self-portrait.
The Last Supper
Considered by
many to be
painting, The
Last Supper
employs all of
his anatomical
work in the
expressions of
Christ and the
The Codes
Leonardo wrote in Italian using a special
kind of shorthand that he invented
himself. People who study his notebooks
have long been puzzled by something else,
however. He usually used "mirror
writing," starting at the right side of the
page and moving to the left. Only when
he was writing something intended for
other people did he write in the normal
An Artistic and Scientific Search for the
True Picture of Man and his Universe
"Leonardo da Vinci
was like a man who
awoke too early in
the darkness, while
the others were all
still asleep"
-Sigmund Freud
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