You may know Leonardo da Vinci as the artist who painted the “Mona Lisa” and “The Last Supper”. You may also know that he was a product of the Renaissance era and was a renowned inventor, architect, scientist and artist, with many theories about the world. In addition to his brilliance, here are some facts that you probably didn’t know about Leonardo da Vinci.
He was ambidextrous
Many historical accounts state that Da Vinci was left-handed, but he was in fact ambidextrous to the point that he could write with one hand and draw with the other at the same time! Clearly, his brain was very advanced.
He lacked a formal education
For someone who made such large contributions to science, art, engineering, and architecture, it is hard to believe that Leonardo Da Vinci was only home-schooled in basic reading, writing, and mathematics. Luckily, his father was a notary, so he had access to many scholarly writings. He lived his life as a thinker and his thought processes and inventions were way beyond his time.
Da Vinci bought caged animals just to set them free
As a lover of nature, Da Vinci was a devout vegetarian. He often questioned the audacity of human beings to think that they are superior to the rest of the animal kingdom. Such sentiments about animal slaughter only started to arise in the 18th century when more sensitive attitudes became widespread.
He was almost given the death penalty for sodomy
We almost lost one of the world’s greatest minds! In 1476, Leonardo Da Vinci and three other men were charged with sodomy. As expected at the time, homosexual acts were illegal and punishable by death. Luckily, no witnesses came forward and da Vinci was acquitted.
He died feeling inadequate
Lying on his death bed in 1519, Da Vinci’s last words were: “I have offended God and mankind. My work did not reach the quality it should have”. Perhaps he felt this way because he didn’t have all the answers (no one does) and because none of his writings were published during his lifetime. Nevertheless, it is clear that he remained humble, even though he had the opportunity to work for royalty. If only he knew that 500 years later, millions of people would still know his name and praise his work.
The Mona Lisa painting only became famous after it was stolen
Although it was painted around 1507, the Mona Lisa wasn’t considered a masterpiece until the 1860’s – 350 years after it was painted (no wonder Leonardo Da Vinci died feeling like a failure). On an August night in 1911, three Italian handymen stole the painting from the Lourve Museum, hoping to make some quick cash from it. The Lourve announced the theft and images of the Mona Lisa were plastered in newspapers around the world. Needless to say, the thief was unsuccessful in selling the wildly famous painting, so he hid it and tried to sell it again two years later. His potential buyer immediately recognized the painting and reported him to the police. The Mona Lisa was returned to the Lourve Museum and still attracts over 8 million viewers every year.