Leonardo da Vinci

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Leonardo da Vinci, the Epitome of Renaissance Man

The last supper by Leonardo da Vinci
The last supper by Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci depicted an epitome of a “Renaissance man,” and rose to fame because of his eye-catching paintings such as The Last Supper and Mona Lisa. Leonardo was born on April 14, 1452, born in Tuscany, Italy to Ser Pierro and Caterina (Ormiston 2011). At fourteen years old, Leonardo joined his teacher Andrea Del Verrocchio from Florence in his art workshop who taught him much of the artistic skills. He, therefore, attributes much of his success to Verrocchio.  At twenty years old, he started his painting workshop where his superior talent humbled his master, to the point of vowing never to take up the painting brush again. Later on, Leonardo excelled in his artistic works, diversifying to human anatomy and physics. He later died on May 2, 1519, an age of 67 years. The paper, therefore, addresses the time in history associated with Leonardo da Vinci along with his famous works such as Mona Lisa and the Last Supper.

Leonardo lived during the Renaissance period, characterized by classical learning and incorporating the values of Greece and Rome in Europe. During Renaissance, Europe saw advancements in technology that increased the well-being of man. For instance, the development of the printing press, the study of philosophy and literature (Martin and Philo 2010). During this period, Europeans sought to increase their production in various ways, for instance, increasing agricultural production and commercial activities. Furthermore, Europe organized its military for self-defense and to conquer other territories.  The need for advancement, therefore, came along with artistic figures such as Leonardo da Vinci who took to painting, sculpturing, and decorative arts.

Leonardo’s famous paintings include the Last Supper and Mona Lisa. In the Last Supper, Leonardo tells the story of Jesus Christ’s last supper with the disciples according to the Gospel. The painting carefully depicted Jesus and the disciples having the last supper and telling of His betrayal (Ormiston 2011). Leonardo communicates the theme of betrayal and denial from the painting since it clearly shows Judas’ reaction when Jesus says that one of them will betray him. Further, the painting shows Thomas in his doubtful mood and Peter reacting to the assertion that he would deny Jesus on the last day.

The Last Supper painting is a perfect example of the Early Renaissance. The early painting by Castagno, used linear perspective, ornate forms, for example, sphinxes and marble paneling. These features in the painting detracted the spiritual mood from the event. During the Renaissance period, Leonardo amplified spirituality in the painting by removing the detracting details (Leonardo 2006). For instance, he changed the window and the arching pediment to depict a halo. Furthermore, Leonardo used the table to detach the spiritual realm from the earthly world. A closer examination of Leonardo’s Last Supper indicates he used a more natural setting than Castagno. The painting, therefore, shows how he helped to shape the Renaissance period.

Leonardo’s another famous painting is the Mona Lisa, which portrayed the wife of Florentine merchant (Ormiston 2011). In the painting, Leonardo reflects upon the beauty of a woman which later captured the attention of musicians, writers, and other painters.  The mysterious smile depicted in the picture could not evade the notice of the viewer. The painting became famous, but unfortunately, the patron did not own it. Leonardo kept it even when he worked for the King of France, Francis I. about the Renaissance period, Mona Lisa depicts the civilizations that took place in the society and how people took to beauty. During the Renaissance era, the wealthy in the society commissioned a portrait, which could display beyond likeness to include their status and position in the society. The painters and sculptors, therefore, could spend several days capturing the likeness of the subject.

Apart from the famous paintings, Leonardo symbolized the Renaissance era by studying botany, geology, hydraulics and aeronautics. He drew his observations on papers, sometimes on pads and kept them for more research. Keeping notes in the Renaissance, therefore, helped Leonard to write books about his mind. He filled the books with scientific concepts, illustrating different scientific ideas and their explanations through paintings and mainly through theoretical explanation (Leonardo 2006). Da Vinci did less of the experimental part but very creative in coming up with new ideas. Leonardo seemed to see the future during his time in sketches, for example, he drew something that resembles a bicycle, and another one looked like a helicopter which he drew basing on the physiology of the bat.

In conclusion, Leonardo da Vinci represents a perfect example of a Renaissance man. He not only embraced painting, sculpturing, and decorative arts but also delved into philosophy. His works, the Last Supper and Mona Lisa, shows characteristics of the rebirth period in Europe. In the paintings, he depicts the advancement in technology and the creative capability of human beings.  Further, Leonardo embraced both science and arts, which represents the elements of the Renaissance period. Through his artistic works, therefore, Leonardo shows the world paints the Renaissance period with creativity and talent.


Leonardo. 2006. The Complete Works. Cincinnati, Oh. [u.a.: David & Charles. Print.

Martin, Clayton, and Ronald Philo. 2010. Leonardo Da Vinci: The Mechanics of Man. London: Royal Collection Enterprises. Print.

Ormiston, Rosalind. 2011.  Leonardo Da Vinci: His Life and Works in 500 Images. Wigston, Leicestershire: Lorenz Books. Print.

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