We may never know who the Mona Lisa was or what she’s smiling about, but we do know that Leonardo Da Vinci was one of the icons of the renaissance, a genius who has left a legacy of art, thought, science, and culture which has profoundly affected all ages since.
I’ve always admired his art and that’s why I have put together a list of 6 amazing facts about him:
1/ He wrote backward, so the easiest way to read his notes was to hold them up to a mirror. It’s not clear why he did that, but Leonardo filled notebook after notebook with sketches and backward writing.
2/ He was as much an inventor as an artist. Though he never built many of the inventions he designed, some of the things he envisioned in the late 1400s are in use today, including helicopters and parachutes.
3/ Unusually for the era in which he lived, Leonardo was a vegetarian, for humanitarian reasons.
4/ Don’t call him Da Vinci, despite the title of Dan Brown’s best-selling novel, The Da Vinci Code, if you must shorten his name, call him Leonardo. Da Vinci just means “from the town of Vinci”.
5/ Da Vinci was an illegitimate child of an Italian notary, and he was raised in his father’s house. He eventually had 17 half-siblings between his parents, who had married other people.
6/ It took him about ten years to paint Mona Lisa’s lips. One of the most unusual hypotheses is that it is a self-portrait of Leonardo as a woman.