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Famous Paintings of Renaissance Artist Leonardo Da Vinci

Updated on May 25, 2017
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Ancient art and architecture isn't only for historians, but for people like us who’ve always been interested in anything olden and periodic.

Leonardo Da Vinci was an Italian Renaissance artist who can be said to be one of the universal art geniuses that ever lived.

Born in 1452, Da Vinci who was far ahead of his time in all his artistic works and activities (he was an expert in so many fields) was and still is regarded as one of the greatest painters of all time. He was a pupil of Verrocchio who was one of the first of the Italian Renaissance artists to paint, air, light, and landscapes.

Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci | Source

Da Vinci as he is popularly referred to was a humble man despite his being multi-talented. During the course of his life, he was an author, a sculptor, painter, philosopher, and a musician. He was also a scientist, a metal worker, an inventor, architect, mathematician, engineer (mechanical and structural), physicist, geologist and a designer of firearms.

Leonardo Da Vinci, without any doubt, is a legendary personality.

Because he had such superb drafting abilities, he thoroughly mastered the art of anatomy, light, and perspective, discovering ‘secret’ ways of expressions that would have revolutionized today’s thoughts and concepts.

He possessed both manual and technical abilities that were so professional for his time, it can be categorically stated that only a few famous artists in history could rival his abilities.

If only we are privileged to read the great number of manuscripts which he wrote but unfortunately, none are known to be published.

Famous Paintings of Da Vinci

Leonardo Da Vinci died in 1519. Today, there are only fifteen of his paintings remaining. This is because some of his other paintings were either ruined by his experiments or uncompleted . . . he was a procrastinator. Leonardo was a cautious character who was precise in his paintings and sketches and was never in a hurry to finish off any of his painting.

Even with that, his artworks still stand as one of the best, even until this day.

His famous works include:

Mona Lisa

“The woman with the mysterious smile”. This painting is Da Vinci’s most popular and widely known work of superb art.

Historical sources claim that the Mona Lisa was painted shortly after he and his wife lost a child. In order to take her mind off (albeit momentarily) her grief, change her mournful demeanor and divert her attention from her grieving state, he employed jesters and musicians to help pick up her spirits and put a smile back on her face.

Many art historians claim it’s ironical that such a traumatic experience will produce the slightest hint of a smile. Curiously, this sphinx-like smile has been given many interpretations.

The Last Supper

Painted between 1495 and 1498, it is dubbed the most reproduced religious painting of all time. Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” is so popular; the famous oil painting has been endlessly copied through the centuries.

The painting which represents Jesus and His twelve disciples cover a wall at the monastery of Santa Maria Delle Grazie in Milan. It captures that deeply emotional moment when Christ proclaimed "One of you shall betray Me".

The "wounded" and stricken look in the eyes of his disciples reflects their intense agony and pain. It makes this artwork one that shows a pictorial study in deep and reflective psychology.

Vitruvian Man

Created around 1487, this work is a world-renowned geometrical drawing on paper using pen and ink.

The drawing illustrates a man in two superimposed positions within a square and a circle. It represents “man in harmony with creation”.

The drawing and text are sometimes called the ‘Canon of Proportions’ or ‘Proportions of Man’.

The sketch is named after the architect Vitruvius because it is accompanied by some writings based on the architect’s work. Today, though it’s not permanently displayed, the Vitruvian Man is held by the Galleries dell’Academia in Venice.

Lady with an Ermine

This painting was made around 1490. Da Vinci’s model for this painting has been identified as Cecilia Gallerani, a mistress of Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan.

It is also known as “Portrait of an Unknown Woman”.

This painting is one of the only four Leonardo da Vinci’s female portraits, the others being La Belle Ferronniere, thought to represent Cecilia Gallerani, Mona Lisa, and Ginevra de’ Benci.

This famous painting is displayed in the Czartoryski Museum, Krakow, Poland.


The Madonna of the Rocks

This famous work painted in the Louvre was one of the first paintings that show the Virgin Mary in a more human form than as a celestial being, as was the case with paintings of the Medieval Era.

The beautiful art work shows the care and tenderness in her eyes as she watches her Child. This depicts realism, especially with the absence of the characteristic halo and other symbols of divinity.

Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk

Circa 1510...

This is the only self-portrait drawn by DaVinci himself around 1512 when he was about sixty. But apparently, not everyone believes that this portrait of an old man with a long wavy beard and even long hair truly represents Leonardo da Vinci.

The portrait is drawn in red chalk on paper and illustrates the head of an old man with his face turned towards the viewer but not engaging. The length of both the hair and beard which depicts a man of wisdom is not quite typical of Renaissance and there is a sense of solemnity in the painting.

The drawing has been created in fine lines shadowed by hatching and executed with the left hand, as was Leonardo's special ‘signature’.

The drawing is held by the Royal Library of Turin, Italy.

Source: Interior Design and Decoration by Sherrill Whiton

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