44 Interesting Facts About Leonardo Da Vinci

Last updated on September 19th, 2019

Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci, more commonly known as Leonardo da Vinci or simply Leonardo, was an Italian polymath whose areas of interest included invention, painting, sculpting, architecture, science, music, mathematics, engineering, literature, anatomy, geology, astronomy, botany, writing, history, and cartography. With these 44 interesting facts about Leonardo da Vinci, let’s learn about his life, work, fame and more…

Facts about Da Vinci’s early life

1. Early separation from mother: Da Vinci was closer to his father than his mother. He lived with his mother for the first five years of his life and thereafter settled with his father. He would, however, write letters to his mother from time to time. Leonardo’s mother was able to spend the last few years of her life with her son, though.

2. Uncle’s role: Leonardo’s uncle Francesco played a significant role in his upbringing.

3. Not formally educated: Leonardo was home schooled beyond reading, writing and mathematical skills. He lacked formal education in Latin and Greek.

Da Vinci's childhood house in Italy
Leonardo’s childhood home situated alongside Via di Anchiano, 3 km north of Vinci, in Tuscany, Italy. Image credit – Wikipedia.org

4. Not his surname: Leonardo had no surname in the modern sense – “da Vinci” simply means “of Vinci”. Vinci is a city and commune of the Metropolitan City of Florence in the Italian region of Tuscany.

5. The illegitimate child: Leonardo’s father married four times (including his marriage to a sixteen-year-old) during his lifetime and in all, Leonardo had 17 siblings and half-siblings. Two of his father’s wives died without bearing any children. Interestingly, his father never married his biological mother. Thus, he was an illegitimate child of the duo.

6. Leonardo’s father was a wealthy man. After his death, Leonardo faced a tough time with his siblings regarding the inheritance of wealth.

7. Drawn on August 5, 1473, the earliest of Leonardo’s works is a drawing in pen and ink of the Arno valley.

Leonardo's earliest drawing
Leonardo’s earliest known drawing, the Arno Valley (1473). Image credit – Wikipedia.org

8. Beating the master: Leonardo while learning painting from his teacher, Andrea del Verrocchio, was asked to draw a painting of an angel. His drawing was so good that Andrea del Verrocchio decided to never paint again.

9. Leonardo had a witty intellect and passion for secrecy. He was fond of puns, which is also quite evident in his paintings.

10. His way of writing: Leonardo da Vinci wrote most of his work from right to left. The result of this writing was a mirror script, which was difficult to read. This may be due to the fact that he wanted to keep his writing secret, which is why he chose to write this way, or it may be simply because he was left handed, and this unusual writing style was easier.

Facts about Da Vinci’s paintings, learning, interests, artwork etc.

11. Leonardo da Vinci was left handed. So were Napoleon, Michelangelo, Einstein, Newton, Bill Gates, Oprah, President Barack Obama and Jimi Hendrix.

12. Unfinished paintings, writing, and inventions: the legendary painter was slow to finish his work. He left many unfinished painting, writings, and inventions that never materialized during his time. Some of his inventions were built using his designs, but many failed to materialize.

13. A strict vegetarian: Leonardo did not care for keeping animals and birds caged. He would buy caged animals just to set them free. And to top it all, he was a strict vegetarian.

14. He was a procrastinator, but a perfectionist.

15. Da Vinci did not complete his first commissioned painting — The Adoration of the Magi — for Florence’s San Donato, a Scopeto monastery. He left for Milan to serve as an engineer, architect, sculptor and painter for the ruling Sforza dynasty.

16. In 1483, Leonardo set about to create the largest outdoor statue. However, it never became a reality.

About Da Vinci’s marriage and other interests

17. Charged with sodomy: Leonardo da Vinci, at the age of 24, was arrested on charges of sodomy along with his male companions. Would it not have been for the lack of witnesses, he could have been punished by death.

18. Unmarried genius: Leonardo had no relationships with women, never married and had no children. Indeed, he wrote in his notebooks that male-female intercourse disgusted him.

19. Never liked: Leonardo, as he is almost always called, had little interest in literature, history or religion.

20. Visiting graveyards: Leonardo dug into graveyards at night to steal corpses and study human anatomy.

21. Interestingly, he wore pink to make his complexion look fresh.

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