By popular historical definition, a Renaissance man was someone versed in many fields of study or expertise, if not one who had mastered several. Da Vinci was not only an extraordinarily skilled artist, but a gifted mathematician, scientist, musician, architect, anatomist, botanist and inventor as well.
Da Vinci was born April 15, 1452, illegitimately, to a public notary and a simple young woman. By the age of 14, he became apprentice to the celebrated painter, Andrea del Verocchio, under whom he learned not only painting and sculpting, but chemistry, metallurgy and carpentry as well. In the ensuing decades, Da Vinci became renowned as an artist and was commissioned to paint numerous works for wealthy patrons. The "Mona Lisa" and "Last Supper" fresco likely rank among the most significant. As of 2014, only 15 of Da Vinci's paintings are known to survive.
As an anatomist, Da Vinci is famous for, among other things, his Vitruvian Man, a rendering that represents exactly the proportions of the human figure, as inspired by the work of the ancient Roman Architect, Vitruvius. He also wrote several books during his lifetime, including one treatise on mathematics and another entitled the "Codex on the Flight of Birds." As inventor and engineer, Da Vinci produced a design for a flying machine, worked on a plan for diverting the waters of the river Arno and even provided Ottoman sultan, Beyazid II, with the plan for a 720-foot bridge to be considered for one of the ruler's civil engineering projects. Although he probably suffered from paralysis in his right hand toward the end of life, Da Vinci still managed to teach and draw in his final years. Da Vinci died May 2, 1519, at age 67.