Creator: Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo di Ser Piero da Vinci
(can we call him Leo?) was an Italian scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer. Born in 1452 in Vinci, Italy (hence da Vinci, i.e. from Vinci). Leonardo apprenticed at the art studio of Verrocchio. According to one legend, when Leonardo and Verrocchio collaborated on a painting, Verrocchio found himself so outclassed by his apprentice that he abandoned art altogether.
Leonardo spent time in Florence (where he got charged with sodomy, sparking centuries of speculation over whether or not he was gay note
), Milan and Rome, working for various wealthy patrons. He produced some of the most famous paintings history: The Last Supper
, Virgin of the Rocks
, and, most famous of all, Mona
, considered to be either the most beautiful or the most kitschy work of art in history.
Besides above-ground art, Leonardo also trafficked in the shady world of anatomy, secretly procuring corpses and dissecting them (an act which could get you killed at the time) to study the human body.
Leonardo always considered himself foremost a scientist. The areas of his interest include: aeronautics, anatomy, astronomy, botany, civil engineering, chemistry, geology, geometry, hydrodynamics, mathematics, mechanical engineering, optics, physics, pyrotechnics and zoology (allowing him to put pretty much every Omnidisciplinary Scientist
in fiction to shame). His inventions range from the mundane (strut bridges, automated thread-winder, pulley systems) to the height of—for the times—science fiction, including tanks, airplanes, helicopters, and a mechanism for walking on water. Leonardo's awesomeness is such that he even gets his own genre of science fiction—Clock Punk
In fact, it is his interest and expertise in so many areas which inspired
the term "Renaissance Man
". Unfortunately, though, he was interested in so many things that he couldn't settle down to work on anything
. Many of his artworks and engineering projects never got off the drawing board, or, in the artwork's case, the doodlepad.
Leo died in 1519. He probably
was not an immortal alien
... or friends with a Time Lord
... or a sacred feminine worshiping cryptologist
... or an ally of an order of assassins
. And he was definitely
not a ninja turtle
. Or an ancestor of Stewie Griffin
. And we're decently sure he never traveled to South America in search of a magical book of knowledge.
Also note that people called him Leonardo (not da Vinci) back then. Da Vinci means "of Vinci", so it would be somewhat like saying "What would Of Nazareth
Shout-outs in popular culture:
- The Da Vinci Code has spread the idea that Da Vinci put some kind of hidden code about the Vatican in his paintings. Despite that it also made the man even more famous with the general public than he already was.
- Leonardo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is named after him.
- Appears in an episode of Futurama where he is revealed to have been an exterrestrial alien from a planet where everybody is such a genius that he was in fact considered to have been the dumbest one. Therefore he went to Earth because there he would have been considered the smartest. Nevertheless Fry keeps confusing him with Leonardo DiCaprio.
- The character Maestro in Il était une fois... is clearly based on him.
- Leonardo appears at the start of Hudson Hawk, where he is painting the Mona Lisa and conducts a flying experiment.
- Epic Rap Battles of History: Battled alongside Raphael, Donatello and Michelangelo Buonarroti against the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
- Hollywood actor Leonardo DiCaprio was named after him.
- Leonardo is named after him.
- In Family Guy, Stewie's evil(er) brother Bertram traveled through time to murder Stewie's ancestor (who turned out to be Leonardo da Vinci) in a Terminator-style scheme. Unbeknownst to him, due to a Timey-Wimey Ball Stewie was accidentally responsible for the Big Bang and, thus, creating the universe, and thus his actions ended up destroying everything, except Brian and Stewie who managed to survive by stepping outside of normal time and space. When they go back to stop him, they try to reason with him by telling him that he will destroy everything if he does this - Bertram thinks for a second, then declares "WORTH IT!" and tries to kill Leonardo anyway. He succeeds, but Stewie creates a Stable Time Loop by taking his place.
- Doctor Who visits him in the episode City of Death
- In the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, a recurring character is the befuddled genius inventor Leonard of Quirm (an obvious parody of real-world Renaissance Italian inventor and painter Leonardo da Vinci).
Da Vinci's life and work provide examples of:
- Ambiguously Gay: Leonardo's sexuality is still a matter of dispute. He was arrested for sodomy and once wrote: "The act of procreation and anything that has any relation to it is so disgusting that human beings would soon die out if there were no pretty faces and sensuous dispositions." Even the women in his paintings have a certain androgynous style over them and he drew a lot of idealized male bodies, including his Vitruvian man.
- Badass Beard: People remember him mostly as a bearded man in old age, because most portraits depict him that way. It also seems to play in with the notion of the bearded wise man.
- Born in the Wrong Century: Leonardo did a lot of scientific work that was centuries ahead of his time. He was dissecting corpses to study human anatomy before Andreas Vesalius did it. He wrote about inventions such as tanks, flying machines, helicopters, submarines,... that would only become fully developed in the 19th and 20th century.
- Foreigners Write Backwards: In his case literally. Leonardo wrote all his scientific findings down in his local dialect and backwards! Some say he did this to prevent others from reading it. Others say it was a result of his dyslexia.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Made many drawings for inventions he never actually made or tried out.
- Heroic Bastard: Which is why he didn't have a surname.
- L Is for Dyslexia: Believed to have suffered from it.
- Mainstream Obscurity: Everybody knows he was a versatile genius who painted the Mona Lisa and the Last Supper. His other paintings are remembered far less well, save perhaps for the Vitruvian Man. And despite everybody knowing he was also a groundbreaking inventor and scientist most people would be able to name any of the stuff he invented, save perhaps for technically accurate anatomical drawings and wings to fly- which didn't work quite as smooth as film adaptations tend to show.
- Mona Lisa Smile: Trope Namer. The way he painted the mysterious smile of the Mona Lisa has intrigued countless people over the centuries.
- Omnidisciplinary Scientist: The areas of his interest include: aeronautics, anatomy, astronomy, botany, civil engineering, chemistry, geology, geometry, hydrodynamics, mathematics, mechanical engineering, optics, physics, pyrotechnics and zoology.
- Renaissance Man: The Trope Codifier.
- The Rival: Michelangelo Buonarroti, though only in the field of art. In science he had no real rivals.
- Small Reference Pools:
- Usually the first name people think of when they name a Renaissance artist. Ironically Leonardo didn't finish that many of his paintings and sculptures and spent more time doing science.
- Similarly, the Mona Lisa is our standard idea of a painting or a valuable painting for that matter. Countless stories about art theft will have a thief break in the Louvre and try to steal the Mona Lisa.