In the present paper, the story and biography of Leonardo da Vinci is described from the perspective of his personality and inner searches. The research is not conducted through the pragmatic perspective of his artistic and scientific works. Although those masterpieces would give us an image of Leonardo in the sense of human development he was representing, society and epoch requirements he was reflecting through his talent, but they would not tell us what kind of persona Leonardo da Vinci was. In order to comprehend an artist and such brilliant mind, one should follow his life path with him. In the present essay, biographic sketch of da Vinci is drawn in the framework of his personality comprehension.
Key words: Leonardo da Vinci, genius, patronage, artist, painter, scientist, personality.
The Loneliness of Genius
The history of human intelligence and genius could never forget such unprecedented mind and talent as the one of Leonardo da Vinci. From strictly pragmatic perspective, the image of Leonardo da Vinci can be measured by his artistic and scientific activity. In this context, he would be seen as a talented painter – author of Mona Lisa masterpiece; as an architect and sculpture – creator of “Gran Cavallo”; civil engineer – flying machine planning manuscripts; scientist and explorer – human anatomy and investigation of human nature in Vitruvian man; topographer – maps created for Cesare Borgia (Cremante, 2005). All those facts would give us an image of Leonardo in the sense of human development he was representing, society and epoch requirements he was reflecting through his talent, but they would not tell us what kind of persona Leonardo da Vinci was. In order to comprehend an artist and such brilliant mind, one should follow his life path with him. In the present essay, biographic sketch of da Vinci is drawn in the framework of his personality comprehension.
The path of the greatest mind of his time started on 15th of April 1452, in a small town Anchiano, near Vinci, in the republic of Florence (“The Life of”). Like most of the prominent people, who manage to achieve something, Leonardo was born for struggle, already because he was an illegitimate son of the local notary Piero Frusioni di Antonio da Vinci and a peasant women, known as Caterina (Cremante, 2005). The fact of his birth gave the first impulse for his creativity and desire to prove him in life. That is why during all his life he was using not his father’s name, but only territorial belonging to the territory of Vinci (Blass, 2006). His further study at school of the famous artist Verrocchio for ten years from 1466 to 176 was characterized by great persistence and desire for perfection and constant self-improvement. He managed to exceed his master in the first common work of The Baptism of Christ (Cremante, 2005). In less than ten years, at the age of 20 (1472), Leonardo was a qualified member of the professional artists Guild (Cremante, 2005).
Mature and independent life of Leonardo was exact depiction of the diversity of his mind and freedom of spirit. He was practically everywhere and met most of the brilliant minds and wealthiest arts patrons of his epoch. The first patron of Leonardo might be considered Ludovico il Moro, Duke of Milan, for whom, Leonardo had worked for 17 years (1482 – 1499) (Cremante, 2005). Due to the Second Italian War of 1499, Leonardo went to Venice where he served as military strategist and main engineer. In the next years, his talent was noticed by the representative of the house of Borgia, particularly by Cesare Borgia, for whom he made numerous engineering marvels and most detailed maps of his time (“The Life of”). In the period of 1503-1508, Leonardo was moving around Milan, Florence and Venice, dealing with some affairs in the artist guild, the inheritance after father’s death and some works of his own. The impartiality of Leonardo’s political views were proved by his last years of life, which passed under the patronage of Francis I, French monarch at that time. Due to his benevolence, in 1516, Leonardo received house at Clos Luce and regular pension of 10,000 scudi (Cremante, 2005). That was the place he died in 1519.
Irrespective of public life Leonardo had conducted, he can be characterized as mysterious and lonely person. Mysterious because his private life was never entirely revealed, gossips about is homosexual orientation and absence of women except for his mother, who had allegedly lived with him until her death in 1495, were more speculative than factually proved (Blass, 2006). On the other hand, he was a lonely person, because people of high intelligence randomly find comfort in their contemporaries. Leonardo had close relationship with his students mainly because they at least tried to understand his vision of the world, but, in the end, he was constantly alone with himself, because the price of genius is loneliness and absence of the true comprehension by other people. Leonardo da Vinci was worshiped, admired and but never entirely understood and most likely he will never be. This the his greatest secret and which he had taken with himself.
Cremante, S. (2005). Leonardo da Vinci. Florence, FR: Giunti.
Blass, R.B. (2006). A Psychoanalytic Understanding of the Desire for Knowledge as
Reflected in Freud’s Leonardo Da Vinci and a Memory of His Childhood 1.
International Journal Psychoanalysis, 87(5), 1259-1274.
The Life of Leonardo da Vinci. Retrieved from