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Leonardo Factoids

From the book, "The Renaissance, Maker of Modern Man," by the National Geographic Society, 1970.

Leonardo was a gifted singer and instrumentalist. He journeyed to Milan as Lorenzo di Medici's agent to present a gift to Lodovico Sforza, better known as Il Moro. He presented him with a spectacular gift — a silver lute in the shape of a horse's head — Leonardo's own design.

When Leonardo's father asked him to decorate a shield, the boy collected in his room lizards, crickets, serpents, butterflies, grasshoppers and bats, forming of their parts a great ugly creature. From this model he painted a dragon, set the shield in a window — and frightened his father, who saw it as real!

Throughout Leonardo's long life he remained immune to the charms of women, no matter how beguiling or influential they might be. He regarded procreation as hideous. (Readers: Insert your own Blue Feather reference here!)


For more than two years Leonardo labored on his masterpiece, "The Last Supper". The monks of the Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie grew impatient with him, and even threatened to lock him in the room until it was finished. He was so annoyed by them that he painted the figure of Judas in the image of the prior.

Ideal conditions for a painter (according to Leonardo): A house clean and filled with charming pictures; and often accompanied by music or by the reading of various and beautiful works. It is under conditions such as these that he painted Lisa Gherardini del Giocondo, better known as Mona Lisa. Pope Leo X commissioned a painting from Leonardo, only to learn that "straightaway he began to make varnish." In disgust, the pope exclaimed, "Alas! This man will never do anything, for he begins by thinking of the end of the work."

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