Leonardo da Vinci, ‘Épouse de Francesco del Giocondo, dite Mona Lisa, ou la Joconde (Wife of Francesco del Giocondo, called Mona Lisa, or la Joconde)’, 1503-1506, Musée du Louvre

About Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci is one of the foremost artists in the history of Western art, famed for painting the Mona Lisa (ca. 1503-6), and for his meticulous, dynamic drawings of various mechanical devices, animals, and imagined machines, as well as his portraits and writings on art and science. A founding father of the High Renaissance style, he is admired for his virtuosity as a painter and draughtsman in the handling of space, depiction of light and shadow, and expert use of sfumato, in which tones and colors shade gradually into one, producing softened outlines. Although few works seem to have been finished, and even fewer survive, Leonardo’s writings and sketchbooks offer glimpses into the life of an ingenious polymath. “Painting,” he wrote, “is poetry that is seen rather than felt.”

Italian, 1452-1519, Anchiano, Italy, based in Clos Lucé, Amboise, France