Image Credit: Sailko via Wikimedia Commons

An artist who thought cats were masterpieces!

The Mona Lisa was not Leonardo da Vinci’s only magnificent piece of art – he also drew kitties! Around 1480 he drew a piece known as Virgin and Child With Cat which depicts the Virigin Mary holding the baby Jesus who in turn is holding a cat. It is a response to a Christmas legend that a cat gave birth at the same time as the Virgin Mary and was able to purr the baby Jesus to sleep. The cat received an “M” (for Mary) on her forehead for her service.

Leonardo da Vinci’s life was a constant struggle toward success. He was born as an illegitimate child in Italy in 1452. The fact that he was illegitimate placed him in a lower class of society straight from birth. He was not allowed to take his father’s last name (da Vinci simply means “from Vinci”), not allowed to inherit anything from his father, and unable to follow into the family business. However, Leonardo was determined beat the status quo. Though he had no formal education, he would become one of history’s greatest thinkers.

At the age of 14, Leonardo was sent to be an apprentice for a family friend – Verrocchio. Verrocchio was one of the most successful artists in Italy at the time. It was at his studio that Leonardo would learn most of the things that would drive the rest of his career including art skills, engineering, and chemistry. Leonardo had such a respect for Verrocchio that he would stay with him even after he was accepted as a master in the Guild of St. Luke in 1472.

Leonardo da Vinci traveled around Italy as wars between the city-states made each area unstable. No matter where he went he he kept a notebook of drawings and ideas which give us great insight into his life. He had many ideas for innovative war machines and tried a few times to sell those ideas. When he finally did sell a few of his inventions, he realized how disgusting war really was.

After having spent the last portion of his life as the Premier Painter and Engineer and Architect to the king of France, Leonardo passed away in 1519. He had lived to the ripe old age of 67, which when compared to a life expectancy of 30 or 40 years, is really exceptional. His works such as The Last Supper and The Mona Lisa are highly regarded even today.

For more information about Leonardo da Vinci, please read my post Leonardo da Vinci, Christmas & Cats.

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Do your kitties help you to fall asleep at night?