Leonardo was born in Vinci on April 15th, it is thought in a house in Anchiano, the illegitimate son of the notary Piero (son of Antonio) and of Caterina
Leonardo moved to Florence and entered an apprenticeship in Verrocchio’s workshop. From 1472 he was a member of the Compagnia di San Luca, the painters’ guild.
“Di’ diSanta Maria della Neve /addì 5 d’aghossto 1473”: (on the day ofOur Lady of the Snow /August 5 1473) is the date on Leonardo’s drawing which used to be known as Paesaggio della Valle dell’Arno, (theArno Valley), nowadays more accurately described as a View of Montevettolini and Monsummano seen from the Montalbano hillside.
He was charge dwith painting the altar piece for the chapel of St. Bernard in the Palazzodella Signoria in Florence. In this same period Leonardo noted down“two paintings of the Madonna”, one of which has been identifiedas the Benois Madonna or Madonna with a Flower and,in 1481,he was commissioned by the Monks of San Donato in Scopeto to paint the Adorationof the Magi.
Leonardo movedto Milan,in the service of LudovicoIl Moro,leaving the Adorationof the Magi(now kept in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence) unfinished. It wasactually in Milan that, on 25 April 1483, he signed a contractwith the friars of the Immaculate Conception for the Virginof the Rocks togetherwith Evangelistaand Ambrogio De Predis.
He wasdirector and costume designer for several shows at court, the mostfamous of which was one called “Paradise”, on January 13. In June he was in Paviawith Francesco Di Giorgio. He became friends with LucaPacioli.
These are theyears during which most of his folios containing studiesfor the automation of textile manufacturing werecompiled.
He painted theLast Supper andthe decorations of some rooms in the Castello Sforzesco. The artistis mentioned as the Duke’s engineer.
Milanwas occupied by King Louis XII of France. Leonardo left the city withLuca Pacioli. He stopped first at Vapriod’Addawith the Melzi family, then travelled on towards Venice,passingthrough Mantua,where he painted two portraits of Isabella d’Este.
In March hearrived in Venice where he designed a project for defencesagainst a Turkish invasion. He returned to Florence and designed agrand bridge over the Bosphorus for Sultan Bayezid III.
He entered theservice of CesareBorgiaas architect and general engineer, and followed him during hismilitary campaigns in Romagna.
He returned toFlorenceand developed plansfor diverting the course of the Arno during the siege of Pisa.The Signoriacommissioned him to paint the Battleof Anghiariin Palazzo Vecchio.
Between 1504and 1508, while Leonardo continued working on the Battleof Anghiari, thereare also the earliest mentions of his working on Ledaandthe MonaLisa. Leonardo’sfather, Piero, died on 9 August.
Leonardolived between Florence,wherehe helped Rustici to design the group for the future Sermonof St. John the Baptist forFlorence Baptistery,and Milan, where in July he drew up plans for a grand home forCharles d’Amboise and for Marshall Trivulzio an equestrian statuethat was never made.
He left Milanfor Rome,on September 24th accompanied by his assistants Francesco Melzi,Salaì, Lorenzo and Fanfoia. He lived inside the Vatican, in theBelvedere, under the protection of Giuliano de’ Medici. He was tostay in the city for three years, working on mathematical andscientific studies.
He designedprojects to drain the Pontine Marshes and for the port ofCivitavecchia. Luigi XII died and the new king of France, FrançoisI, won back Milan and its territory in October.
Leonardo movedtoAmboise,to the court of François I and lodged at ClosLucé Castlewith the title of “premier peintre, architecte et mécanicien duroi” (first painter, architect and engineer to the king). Hereceived a visit from Cardinal Luis of Aragon, who was struck by thelarge number of manuscripts shown him. Leonardo also drew plans forthe Castlein Romorantin. Heproducedhis drawings of the Flood, now kept in Windsor.
On 23April he wrote his Will. The executor of his will was the painter andpersonal friend Francesco Melzi, to whom he left all his books anddrawings. Leonardodied on 2 May.