One of the most famous artists of all time, Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci, was born on April 15, 1452 at Vinci in the region of Florence. While he is perhaps most famous as a painter, Da Vinci was known to have an unyielding curiosity that persisted up until the end of his life in 1519. Da Vinci was a polymath and besides his career as an artist, he was also an inventor, mathematician, architect, musician, engineer, botanist, writer, and an anatomist.(1)
At the age of 14, Da Vinci was apprenticed to successful artist Andrea di Cione (aka Verrocchio) where he learned a large variety of skills as well as drawing, painting, sculpting, and modeling. During his professional life, Da Vinci worked in Florence, Milan, Rome, and in 1516 – 1519 in France under the service of Francis I. Leonardo Da Vinci died on May 2, 1519 at Clos Lucé in France.(1)
The Mona Lisa (La Gioconda , La Jaconde, 1503-1506) is a small painting (2’6” x 1’8”) that continues to be a source of fascination and debate. The dark and wild landscape brought together with the serene beauty, smile and liveliness of the sitter creates a sense of mystery and an improbable merging of two opposing worlds.(2)
The Mona Lisa is on display at the Louvre and around 6 million people view the painting ever year. I saw her last summer while in Paris and have to admit my disappointment. The huge crowd of visitors meant that one could only stop briefly to examine it, through a bullet-proof glass enclosure, from a distance as we were herded quickly through the line. Next time, I’ll go in winter.