Leonardo Da Vinci


Cassidee Carlson, Author

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian polymath of the High Renaissance who was active as a painter, draughtsman, engineer, scientist, theorist, sculptor, and architect. Da Vinci was born in Anchiano, Tuscany (now Italy), in 1452, close to the town of Vinci that provided the surname we associate with him today. In his own time, he was known just as Leonardo or “Il Florentine,” since he lived near Florence—and was famed as an artist, inventor, and thinker. Da Vinci received no formal education beyond essential reading, writing, and math. Still, his father appreciated his artistic talent and apprenticed him at around age 15 to the noted sculptor and painter Andrea del Verrocchio of Florence. Leonardo da Vinci’s total output in painting is really rather small; there are less than 20 surviving paintings that can be confidently attributed to him, and several are unfinished.

Two of his most important works—the Battle of Anghiari and the Leda, neither of them completed—have survived only in copies. The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci (Cenacolo Vinciano) is one of the most famous paintings in the world. This artwork was painted between 1494 and 1498 under the government of Ludovico il Moro and represents the last “dinner” between Jesus and his disciples. In the Bible, Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper to memorialize the deliverance from sin He would give to those who trust in Him (Matt. 26:28). The bread and the cup remind us of the one-time sacrifice Jesus made on the cross. We partake to remember what He did on our behalf. According to Christian teachings, the Last Supper was Jesus’s final meal with his disciples. The story is pivotal in the New Testament, and Christians view the Last Supper as the basis for their rite of Holy Communion. Da Vinci created the painting in the years 1495-1498, and it was almost completely lost on August 16, 1943, at the height of World War II in Italy. On this day, a Royal Air Force bomb struck Santa Maria delle Grazie, destroying the refectory’s roof and other nearby spaces. There were many influences on Leonardo’s work, including Humanism, and royalty. Royalty had a major impact on Leonardo’s painting, The Last Supper. For one, Leonardo was asked to complete the painting by Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan. His aim was to capture the emotions of each of the apostles in that dramatic moment. The Last Supper serves as a reactionary painting. It is meant to be an after-effect of Jesus declaring that one of his apostles will betray him, followed by the aghast expressions of all of his apostles. The content of this painting also shows Jesus pointing to bread and to wine.

Leonardo showed a great interest in the world around him. He was inspired by people and nature and used what he saw to create his wealth of ideas. He studied the human body in great depth, in fact, in more detail than the doctors of his time, and he was already working on the idea of flight. Overall, Da Vinci was an amazing artist and inspired many.