Leonardo da Vinci contributed greatly to the fields of art, science and invention during the Italian Renaissance. He is best known for painting the “Mona Lisa" and “The Last Supper." He was an investigator of topics such as botany, aerodynamics, zoology, geology, hydrodynamics, flight, human anatomy and optics.
Leonardo da Vinci was trained with an architectural and technical eye, and he had a great understanding of machines and gears. In his notebooks, he sketched ideas for new machines which weren’t actually invented until hundreds of years after his time. These include parachutes, helicopters, army tanks, airplanes and an underwater breathing apparatus. He was a military engineer who made contributions to the advancement of weapon design. He studied water and had ideas for canals, steam-powered cannons and waterwheels.
Leonardo da Vinci's "Vitruvian Man," which is a drawing of a man with his limbs outstretched inside a square and a circle, shows his perceptions of geometrical proportion. He studied the sun and moon, stars, fossils and light. His knowledge of human anatomy helped him paint realistic figures.
As an artist, he used linear perspective and realistic subjects. He understood that three-dimensional objects are characterized by light and shadow, a technique known as chiaroscuro. He understood receding distances and depth and believed that art should portray the laws of nature.