Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci
( pronunciation (help·info)
), April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) was an Italian polymath
, having been a scientist, mathematician
. Born as the illegitimate son of a notary, Piero da Vinci, and a peasant girl, Caterina, at Vinci
in the region of Florence
, Leonardo was educated in the studio of the renowned Florentine painter, Verrocchio
. Much of his earlier working life was spent in the service of Ludovico il Moro
. He later worked in Rome
, spending his final years in France at the home given to him by King François I
Leonardo has often been described as the archetype of the "Renaissance man", a man whose seemingly infinite curiosity was equalled only by his powers of invention. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time and perhaps the most diversely talented person ever to have lived.
It is primarily as a painter that Leonardo was and is renowned. Two of his works, the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper occupy unique positions as the most famous, most reproduced and most parodied portrait and religious painting of all time, their fame approached only by Michelangelo's Creation of Adam. Leonardo's drawing of the Vitruvian Man is also iconic. Perhaps fifteen of his paintings survive, the small number due to his constant, and frequently disastrous, experimentation with new techniques, and his chronic procrastination.[b] Nevertheless, these few works together with his notebooks, which contain drawings, scientific diagrams, and his thoughts on the nature of painting, comprise a contribution to later generations of artists only rivalled by that of his contemporary, Michelangelo.