Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452, in a farmhouse nestled amid the undulating hills of Tuscany outside the village of Anchiano in present-day Italy. Born out of wedlock to respected Florentine notary Ser Piero and a young peasant woman named Caterina, he was raised by his father and his stepmothers. At the age of five, he moved to his father’s family estate in nearby Vinci, the Tuscan town from which the surname associated with Leonardo derives, and lived with his uncle and grandparents.
Young Leonardo received little formal education beyond basic reading, writing and mathematics instruction, but his artistic talents were evident from an early age. Around the age of 14, da Vinci began a lengthy apprenticeship with the noted artist Andrea del Verrocchio in Florence. He learned a wide breadth of technical skills including metalworking, leather arts, carpentry, drawing, painting and sculpting. His earliest known dated work—a pen-and-ink drawing of a landscape in the Arno valley—was sketched in 1473.
At the age of 20, da Vinci qualified for membership as a master artist in Florence’s Guild of Saint Luke and established his own workshop. However, he continued to collaborate with his teacher for an additional fi...
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...en’s clothing. Based on accounts from an early biographer, however, the "Mona Lisa" is a picture of Lisa del Giocondo, the wife of a wealthy Florentine silk merchant. The painting’s original Italian name—“La Gioconda”—supports the theory, but it’s far from certain. Some art historians believe the merchant commissioned the portrait to celebrate the pending birth of the couple’s next child, which means the subject could have been pregnant at the time of the painting.
If the Giocondo family did indeed commission the painting, they never received it. For da Vinci, the "Mona Lisa" was forever a work in progress, as it was his attempt at perfection. Leonardo never parted with the painting. Today, the "Mona Lisa" hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris, France, secured behind bulletproof glass and regarded as a priceless national treasure seen by millions of visitors each year.
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