What You May Not Know About History's Most Creative Genius
On the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci's death, there are several fascinating facts about history's most creative genius that you may not know:
1. Leonardo was an inventor, artist, musician, architect, engineer, anatomist, botanist,geologist, historian and cartographer. 21st century scholars at MIT ranked him the 6th most influential person who ever lived. King Francis I of France said of his enduring friendship of the great man, "No man possessed such a knowledge of painting, sculpture, architecture, or philosophy as Leonardo."
2. The location of da Vinci's remains is in dispute, but a lock of hair, believed to have come from the Renaissance man's head, could tell us the location of his final resting place. Up to now, it was known that Leonardo died in France, but precisely where his remains were interred has been a mystery. DNA testing is currently being performed on a lock of da Vinci's hair which may reveal his true burial place
3. Leonardo was known as an exceptionally attractive man. One of his biographers describes him as a person of "outstanding physical beauty who displayed infinite grace in everything he did." He was a "well proportioned, graceful, and good-looking man and had beautiful curling hair, carefully styled, which came down to the middle of his chest"
4, Leonardo was born out of wedlock in 1452, the son of a peasant girl and a wealthy notary. His circumstances, biographer Walter Isaacson suggests, may have imbued him with a special sense of urgency to establish his own identity and prove himself with an outsider's education. As a result, he became a firsthand observer and experimenter who relied on his own experience rather than opinions expressed in books
5. Although paintings attributed to Leonardo number fewer than 20, his notebooks contain over 7,000 pages, which comprise the most remarkable monument to human curiosity and creativity ever produced by a single person
6. Da Vinci's artistic contemporaries and rivals were Michelangelo and Raphael - but it was Michelangelo who stoked the most rivalry. The contrast between the two Renaissance giants could hardly have been more pronounced: Michelangelo was deeply religious yet neglectful of his appearance and hygiene, while Leonardo was elegant and graceful and exhibited little interest in religious matters