Leonardo (da Vinci, 1452-1519) [Leonardo of Vinci] was born in the Italian village of that name, and at only 15 entered the studio of Verocchio, becoming an independent artist under the protection of Lorenzo the Magnificent in 1478.
Moving later to Milan to the court of Sforza, he used his prodigious talents in music, painting, and engineering, designing bridges and weapons of war. From 1500 to 1506 Leonardo was based in Florence, but travelled widely, the Mona Lisa being painted early in this period. At the age of 61 Leonardo entered the service of the brother of Pope Leo X, in Milan; then in 1517 he moved to Amboise, where he died in 1519. His knowledge of anatomy, learned by dissecting corpses, was the basis of his drawing; he was equally knowledgable about botany, geology, optics, astronomy, and mathematics. In his notebooks, discovered and deciphered years after his death, are designs for inventions not realised until centuries later.