Leonardo Da Vinci

“The greatest gifts are often seen, in the course of nature, rained by celestial influences on human creatures; and sometimes, in supernatural fashion, beauty, grace, and talent are united beyond measure in one single person, in a manner that to whatever such an one turns his attention, his every action is so divine, that, surpassing all other men, it makes itself clearly known as a thing bestowed by God (as it is), and not acquired by human art.”

Giorgio Vasari

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (Vinci, 15 April 1452 - Amboise, 2 May 1519) was an Italian painter, engineer and scientist.
A Renaissance man of genius and universal talent, he was the complete embodiment of the spirit of his times. An architect and sculptor, he was also a draftsman, treatise writer, set designer, anatomist, musician as well as a designer and inventor.

Born out of wedlock, Leonardo was the first-born of Ser Piero da Vinci, a young notary from a wealthy family, and Caterina, a woman of low-born origins. When Leonardo was sixteen, Ser Piero's father, Antonio, died and the family moved to Florence. As Leonardo was already showing signs of his extraordinary abilities, he was apprenticed by his father to Andrea Verrocchio, the best painter of the period and an excellent teacher who was also a renowned sculptor and goldsmith. Although Leonardo’s work with Verrocchio is not clear, he seems to have contributed to the panel painting of the "Baptism of Christ" in Florence’s San Salvi. In 1472, Leonardo was recorded in the painters’ guild as being a master. Therefore, though no longer apprenticed to Verrocchio, it appears that he had not yet left Verrocchio’s workshop. His first work, dated 1473, is a drawing with a view of the Valdarno. In that same period, he painted a portrait of the noblewoman Ginevra de’ Benci, the “Madonna of the Carnation” (1474-1478), and the “Annunciation” in the Uffizi.
In the early sixteenth century, he returned to the city of Florence, and, with Michelangelo, painted the Great Council Hall in Palazzo della Signoria.
Here he carried out the magnificent "Battle of Anghiari" (1503), which he however left unfinished. This failure to finish a work appears to have been his stylistic hallmark in those years. Leonardo was obsessed with perfection and with his search for new painting techniques. Even the famous Mona Lisa, painted during those years, gives the impression of being a work in progress. He continued to travel untiringly, returning to Milan in 1506, then going ever more frequently to Rome.
In 1513, Francis I of France invited him to the court in Amboise. Welcomed with many honors, Leonardo supervised the plans for some festivities and took the opportunity to continue the hydrological studies he had begun some years earlier under the Sforza family.


Leonardo in Carmignano
In Leonardo’s times, the village of Bacchereto was a center for artistic ceramic production. Moreover, it was the birthplace of his paternal grandmother, Lucia di Ser Piero di Zoso da Bacchereto, whose family lived in Toia, where it had long owned a "pottery kiln" (later becoming the property of Leonardo’s father). It was here that, at a very young age, Leonardo was able to train in the arts of pottery and sculpture , while drawing the Carmignano area from the Montalbano ridge to Bacchereto and Artimino.
Leonardo’s interest in our area is also demonstrated by his studies to divert the Arno River’s waters to create a waterway that passed through Prato, Pistoia, and Serravalle by using the Ombrone and Bisenzio Rivers. Leonardo studied the route from above Montalbano and around Carmignano that basically corresponds to the present-day route of the Firenze-Mare motorway. (A. Vezzosi) Moreover, recent studies of the "Landscape of the Arno Valley", in Florence’s Uffizi Galleries, have shown that the view depicted of Montevettolini and Monsummano was carried out by Leonardo Da Vinci from the slopes of Montalbano. (A. Vezzosi)

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