Leonardo da Vinci, the Greatest of All Painters

Everyone agrees that Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) was one of the greatest of all painters. His painting “The Last Supper” is probably the most famous painting in the world. But Leonardo would be famous if he had never painted a stroke. For he was also a great inventor. He invented the wheelbarrow, the military tank, and roller bearings. He made plans for dozens of weapons and machines. He even experimented with airplane and submarine modes. Besides, Leonardo was a great scientist and engineer. He was also a poet, a musician, and a sculptor. Perhaps no other person in history has ever learned so much in a lifetime. Certainly no one ever deserved more to be called a genius.

Leonardo da Vinci was born in the village of Vinci in Italy. As a small boy he lived most of the time with his father’s parents. Leonardo was a beautiful boy, with curly hair and bright blue eyes. When his father found out that the boy was interested in painting, he sent him to an excellent painter and teacher. One day Leonardo painted a beautiful angel in one of his teacher’s pictures. “You are a greater painter than I”, said the teacher, “I will paint no more”.

In a few years Leonardo’s father decided that he would pay no more to the teacher. His son, he thought, was spending too much time studying rocks and plants, watching birds to find out how their bodies work, and building models of machines. But Leonardo stayed on as his teacher’s helper. He stayed till he was nearly 25. Then he set out to paint for himself, first in Florence, then in Milan and Venice, and at the end of his life in France.

Leonardo had ideas that other painters liked to copy. “Let them”, he said, “I will originate. They can copy”.

Thus great painter left behind only a few paintings. He had many ideas for pictures and made many wonderful pen and ink sketches. But he had so many other interests that he found it hard to sit and paint for hours at a time.

Some of his paintings have been lost because he liked to experiment. He used colours mixed with wax to paint a wonderful mural of a cavalry battle, but the wax melted and the picture ruined.

“The Last Supper” is on the wall of a chapel in Milan. This picture was famous long before it was finished.

There is such beauty in Leonardo’s paintings that they are so hard to describe as beautiful music. The faces of his people are full of expression. He used light and shadow in a new way to make people look very lifelike.

One of Leonardo’s paintings is called “Mona Liza”. It is the picture of a woman with a faint smile on her face. The painting was ordered by the woman’s husband. But Leonardo liked it so much that he kept it for himself. He took it to France with him when he went to spend the last years of his life as a court painter to the king of France. Now it is one of the greatest treasures of the Louvre in Paris.

  • stroke – мазок
  • deserve – заслуговувати
  • wheelbarrow – тачка
  • roller bearing – роликовий підшипник
  • dozen – дюжина
  • rock – камінь
  • originate давати початок
  • ink – чорнило
  • sketch – ескіз, нарис
  • wax – віск
  • mural – фреска
  • faint – слабкий

Answer the questions and speak about Leonardo da Vinci

  1. What was Leonardo da Vinci?
  2. What did he invent?
  3. What is the most famous Leonardo’s painting?
  4. Where can you see it nowadays?