Leonardo da Vinci, who lived from 1452 to 1519, was an Italian artist, inventor, architect and scientist. His talents were so wide-ranging and diverse that he is considered an archetypal renaissance man.
Da Vinci, born to an unmarried peasant woman, was raised in the house of his father, an attorney who arranged for da Vinci to apprentice under the artist Andrea del Verrocchio. By 1478, da Vinci was considered a master and began receiving commissions to create his own work. Two of his most famous paintings are "The Last Supper," a large fresco of Jesus Christ and his apostles commissioned for the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, and the "Mona Lisa," a portrait of an enigmatic woman with a mysterious smile.
Da Vinci filled thousands of notebook pages with his observations on subjects such as mechanics, architecture, painting and anatomy. He designed inventions including helicopters, airplanes, submarines, bicycles, combat tanks, musical instruments, hydraulic pumps, mortar shells and steam cannons hundreds of years before they were actually built. Da Vinci was among the first artists to draw and diagram details of the human anatomy such as muscles, tendons, the skeletal structure, the brain, the heart, the vascular system, the digestive system, reproductive systems and a fetus in the uterus. He also studied the physiology of animals and compared animal anatomical structures with those of humans. After his death, his notes and drawings were scattered. Portions of his notebooks are now on display in many museums around the world.