Happy Birthday Leonardo da Vinci!! One of the most important figures in the Italian Renaissance, Leonardo was born this day in 1452, an illegitimate son to a lawyer in Vinci, Italy. Da Vinci contributed much to the art world, but also was an architect, an engineer, an anatomist, and so much more. In his voluminous collection of notes were plans for the first bicycle quite like the bicycle of today (three centuries before actually built), various schemes for water diversions, architectural drawings and notes (is credited with perspective drawing) and even designs for flying machines! It is even said that he came close to discovering the phenomenom of blood circulation. Leonardo studied with Verrocchio, who turned to focus on sculpture after realizing Leonardo's genius at painting. Perhaps da Vinci's fascination with anatomy and how to express emotions through their features led to his amazing success at figure drawing and painting. Leonardo lived primarily in Milan and Florence. He began many paintings that were never seen to completion, but also left numerous drawings By the time of his death, da Vinci had amassed a large collection of notebooks and journals that he left to his student. Sadly these were gradually sold off and lost, but some remain, a few of which I have had the pleasure of examining at various museum exhibits. Of course most recognize his works The Last Supper and the Mona Lisa, but I am posting my personal favorite Virgin of the Rocks that I was able to see (be in the presence of) at the Louvre. This is an altarpiece for a church in Milan. There are two versions of the painting, one in the National Gallery in London and one in the Louvre. It is rather large, you almost feel as if you could walk into the painting since it is hung at the viewer's level. It is said that the columbine to the side of the Virgin's face represents the Holy Spirit, heart shaped leaves perhaps represent love, while the palms are a symbol of victory.