Dear Friends,

After a very long recess - for which I apologize -, I am finally back with the most emblematic artist/scientist of all times, the great Leonardo da Vinci. And following a standard I set myself at the beginning of this forum, I have decided to feature him with a most beautiful masterwork which, unlike his Virgin of the Rocks or his most emblematic Mona Lisa, is almost unknown to the general masses: his Madonna with the Yarnwinder, shown below. (I must add, the surviving painting was made by a pupil after a lost masterpiece by Leonardo.)

In this way, we are back from Venetia to Florence, the biggest Italian Renaissance center, and a city near which Leonardo was born in the second half of the  Fifteenth Century. Here he very early studied his art under Andrea del Verroccio, owner of the most renowned workshop in the city, and later on developed his luminous career before traveling to Milan, Rome and finally Amboise, France, where, according to Vasari, he died in the loving arms of Francis, king of France, at 67.

Painter, sculptor, architect, author, engineer, inventor, lutanist, mathematician and scientist, so much has been written over the centuries about the great Leonardo, his role in the  Rennaisance, and his immense work in the aforementioned fields, that I will leave it to the visitors the task of deepening into his life and works. Those willing to do so may follow the links farther down. 

Other paintings by Leonardo include his Mona Lisa or Gioconda, Lady with an Ermine, The Virgin of the Rocks, and John the Baptist.

As always, good feedback is appreciated.

Thank you,

Luis Miguel Goitizolo


Madonna with the Yarnwinder(1)
by Leonardo da Vinci

born 15 April 1452, Anciano, near Vinci (Florentine Province, Tuscany, Italy)
died 1519, Amboise (Indre-et-Loire, France)


Italian painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect, and engineer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. His Last Supper (1495–98) and Mona Lisa (c. 1503–06) are among the most widely popular and influential paintings of the Renaissance. His notebooks reveal a spirit of scientific inquiry and a mechanical inventiveness that were centuries ahead of their time.

Leonardo da Vinci's artistic inclinations must have appeared early. When he was about 15, his father, who enjoyed a high reputation in the Florence community, apprenticed him to artist Andrea del Verrocchio. In Verrocchio's renowned workshop Leonardo received a multifaceted training that included painting and sculpture as well as the technical-mechanical arts. He also worked in the next-door workshop of artist Antonio Pollaiuolo. In 1472 Leonardo was accepted into the painters' guild of Florence, but he remained in his teacher's workshop for five more years, after which time he worked independently in Florence until 1481. There are a great many superb extant pen and pencil drawings from this period, including many technical sketches—for example, pumps, military weapons, mechanical apparatus—that offer evidence of Leonardo's interest in and knowledge of technical matters even at the outset of his career.
Leonardo was the founding father of what is called the High Renaissance style and exercised an enormous influence on contemporary and later artists. His writings on art helped establish the ideals of representation and expression that were to dominate European academies for the next 400 years. The standards he set in figure draughtsmanship, handling of space, depiction of light and shade, representation of landscape, evocation of character and techniques of narrative radically transformed the range of art. A number of his inventions in architecture and in various fields of decoration entered the general currency of 16th-century design.

Technical data

Madonna with the Yarnwinder
c. 1510
Oil on panel transferred to canvas
19 3/4 x 14 1/4 inches (50.2 x 36.4 cm)

Private Collection


(1) This image is a courtesy of the Art Renewal Center.

(2) Sources: Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, Grove Dictionary of Art Online (excerpt).

(3) Source: Art Renewal Center.