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The day global art history changed

April 15, On This Day

The Most Famous Painter In The World


An unforgettable name in the history of art was born on April 15, 1452 — Leonardo da Vinci, an Italian polymath of the High Renaissance who was active as a painter, sculptor, architect, draughtsman, theorist, engineer and scientist.

Despite having many lost works and less than 25 attributed major ones, including numerous unfinished works, he created some of the most influential paintings in Western art, including his magnum opus, the Mona Lisa, often regarded as the world’s most famous painting. In other superlatives, Salvator Mundi — which set a new record for most expensive painting ever sold at public auction in 2017 US$450.3 million — is also attributed in whole or part to Leonardo. His The Last Supper is the most reproduced religious painting of all time, and his Vitruvian Man drawing is also regarded as a cultural icon.

\"\"\"\"Da Vinci had an exceptionally high functioning intelligence. His deep fascination for and study of anatomy to portray it perfectly lead him to dissect innumerable corpses — not just of humans, but also sundry animals. Besides biology, he had an incredible understanding of physics, and his journals include a vast number of inventions, both practical and impractical.


Italian journalist Liana Bortolon, writing in 1967, summed up: “Because of the multiplicity of interests that spurred him to pursue every field of knowledge… Leonardo can be considered, quite rightly, to have been the universal genius par excellence, and with all the disquieting overtones inherent in that term. Man is as uncomfortable today, faced with a genius, as he was in the 16th century. Five centuries have passed, yet we still view Leonardo with awe.”

It is fabled that Leonardo’s fame within his own lifetime was such that the King of France carried him away like a trophy, and was claimed to have held him in his arms as he died, on May 2, 1519.


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