Most evidence suggests that he began work on the Mona Lisa (also known as La Gioconda, now at the Louvre in Paris) in 1503 and continued to work on it until 1506, working sporadically on it well after that (Sasson p. 22). It is likely to be Lisa de Gherardini del Giocondo, wife of a silk merchant, Francesco del Giocondo. Commissioned by her husband to commemorate the birth of their second son as well as moving to a new home (Zollner p. 240). He most likely kept it with him at all times, and did not travel without it. Much is attributed to the importance of this painting, primarily why it is the most famous painting in the world. In short, it was famous at the time of its contemporaries for many different reasons than it is now. Leonardo da Vinci's use of sfumato (the smoky effect he has on his work) transcended convention of the time, as did the sitter's angle, contrapposto, and the bird's-eye view of the background. For the most part it has become famous for all of the above and for the insurmountable amount of media attention it has received. In other words, it has become famous for being famous.
It is also of interest that the Mona Lisa was one of only three paintings that he took with him to his final residence at Clos Luc?; part of its original fame appears to be that it may have been his favourite work. It certainly had a rather large monetary valuation in the will of his protog? Salai.
He painted St Anne in 1509. Between 1506 and 1512, he lived in Milan and under the patronage of the French Governor Charles d'Amboise, he painted several other paintings. These included The Leda and the Swan, known now only through copies as the original work did not survive. He painted a second version of The Virgin of the Rocks (1506-1508). While under the patronage of Pope Leo X, he painted St. John the Baptist (1513-1516).
During his time in France, Leonardo made studies of the Virgin Mary for The Virgin and Child with St. Anne, and many drawings and other studies.
" The Baptism of Christ (1472-1475) - Uffizi, Florence, Italy (from Verrocchio's workshop; angel on the left-hand side is generally agreed to be the earliest surviving painted work by Leonardo)
" Annunciation (1475-1480) - Uffizi, Florence, Italy
" Ginevra de' Benci (c. 1475) - National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., United States
" The Benois Madonna (1478-1480) - Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia
" The Virgin with Flowers (1478-1481) - Alte Pinakothek, Munich, Germany
" Adoration of the Magi (1481) - Uffizi, Florence, Italy
" The Madonna of the Rocks (1483-86) - Louvre, Paris, France
" Lady with an Ermine (1488-90) - Czartoryski Museum, Krakow, Poland
" Portrait of a Musician (c. 1490) - Pinacoteca Ambrosiana, Milan, Italy
" Madonna Litta (1490-91) - Hermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia
" La belle Ferroni?re (1495-1498) - Louvre, Paris, France - attribution to Leonardo is disputed
" Last Supper (1498) - Convent of Sta. Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy
" The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist (c. 1499-1500) - National Gallery, London, UK
" Madonna of the Yarnwinder 1501 (original now lost)
" Mona Lisa or La Gioconda (1503-1505/1507) - Louvre, Paris, France
" The Madonna of the Rocks or The Virgin of the Rocks (1508) - National Gallery, London, UK
" Leda and the Swan (1508) - (Only copies survive - best-known example in Galleria Borghese, Rome, Italy)
" The Virgin and Child with St. Anne (c. 1510) - Louvre, Paris, France
" St. John the Baptist (c. 1514) - Louvre, Paris, France
" Bacchus (or St. John in the Wilderness) (1515) - Louvre, Paris, France
Science and engineering
The rhombicuboctahedron, by Leonardo, as it appeared in the Luca Pacioli's Divina Proportione, 1509.
Renaissance humanism saw no mutually exclusive polarities between the sciences and the arts, and Leonardo's studies in science and engineering are as impressive and innovative as his artistic work, recorded in notebooks comprising some 13,000 pages of notes and drawings, which fuse art and science. These notes were made and maintained through Leonardo's travels through Europe, during which he made continual observations of the world around him. He was left-handed and used mirror writing throughout his life. This is explainable by the fact that it is easier to pull a quill pen than to push it; by using mirror-writing, the left-handed writer is able to pull the pen from right to left and also avoid smudging what has just been written. He wrote in his diaries (journals) using mirror writing.
His approach to science was an observational one: he tried to understand a phenomenon by describing and depicting it in utmost detail, and did not emphasize experiments or theoretical explanation. Since he lacked formal education in Latin and mathematics, contemporary scholars mostly ignored Leonardo the scientist, although he did teach himself Latin. It has also been said that he was planning a series of treatises to be published on a variety of subjects though none were ever done.
The Vitruvian Man, Leonardo's study of the proportions of the human body.
Leonardo started to discover the anatomy of the human body at the time he was apprenticed to Andrea del Verrocchio, as his teacher insisted that all his pupils learn anatomy. As he became successful as an artist, he was given permission to dissect human corpses at the hospital Santa Maria Nuova in Florence. Later he dissected in Milano at the hospital Maggiore and in Rome at the hospital Santo Spirito (the first mainland Italian hospital). From 1510 to 1511 he collaborated with the doctor Marcantonio della Torre (1481 to 1511). In 30 years, Leonardo dissected 30 male and female corpses of different ages. Together with Marcantonio, he prepared to publish a theoretical work on anatomy and made more than 200 drawings. However, his book was published only in 1680 (161 years after his death) under the heading Treatise on painting. Leonardo also dissected cows, birds, monkeys, bears, and frogs, comparing their anatomical structure with that of humans.
Studies of Embryos by Leonardo da Vinci (circa 1510)
Leonardo drew many images of the human skeleton, and was the first to describe the double S form of the backbone. He also studied the inclination of pelvis and sacrum and stressed that sacrum was not uniform, but composed of five fused vertebrae. He was also able to represent exceptionally well the human skull and cross-sections of the brain (transversal, sagittal, and frontal). He drew many images of the lungs, mesentery, urinary tract, sex organs, and even coitus. He was one of the first who drew the fetus in the intrauterine position (he wished to learn about "the miracle of pregnancy"). He often drew muscles and