Lecture 1

Lecture 2

Lecture 3

Lecture 4


TITOLO: Leonardo da Vinci Chronology

WRITTEN BY: Lorenzo Matteoli

DATE: January 2005



Leonardo da Vinci and his time


1450 First book printed with movable metal type. Johannes Gutenberg printed a bible with movable type in Mainz.
1451 Ser Piero da Vinci recorded as notary in Pistoia.
1452 Birth of Christopher Columbus and Ludovico Sforza
1452 Birth of Leonardo da Vinci on 15 April in Vinci, to Caterina. Ser Piero marries sixteen year old Albiera Amadori.
1453 Fall of Costantinople: Mehmet Ali II defeated by the Bizantine Emperor and establishes the ottoman Empire sovereignity on Costantinople (Istanbul)
1456 A hurricane ravages Tuscany.
1457 Leonardo appears on the tax declaration of his grandfather, who is living on the Piazzetta Guazzasi (now the Via Roma) in Vinci. Verrocchio on his tax declaration says he is no longer a goldsmith.
1464 Death of Albiera Ser Piero’s first wife.
1466 Flooding of the Arno in Florence and surrounding districts. Death of Donatello.
1467 Leonardo joins the Bottega of Verrocchio (Andrea di Cione called del Verrocchio)
1468 Verrocchio employed on installation of the ball on the cathedral dome (by Brunelleschi)
1469 Manuel I, king of Portugal (1495-1521), was born. Leonardo registered on the tax declaration of his grandmother in Vinci. Death of Piero de’ Medici. The new leaders of the city are Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici. Birth of Niccolò Machiavelli.
1470 Leonardo registered on the tax declaration of his father Ser Piero, who is now established in Florence.
1472 Leonardo (20 years old) becomes a member of the “arte” of painters, along with Perugino and Botticella. Sack of Volterra. First published editino of Dante’s Divine Comedy. Death of Leon Battista Alberti. Birth of Copernicus.
1473 Death of Ser Piero’s second wife. First known drawing by Leonardo: the landscape painted on the Feast of Santa Maria della Neve. Verrocchio paints “the Baptism of Christ” (approxiomate date).
1475 Piero marries Margherita di Francesco. Birth of Michelangelo Buonarroti. Death of Paolo Uccello.
1476 Birth of Antonio, Ser Piero’s first legitimate child, on February 26th. On 9 April, Leonardo is charged with sodomy but the case is dismissed ion 16 June. Verrocchio finishes his statue of David. Lorenzo de’ Medici sets up the Platonist Academy
1477 Verrocchio works on the Forteguerri monument in Pistoia. Botticellli paints the Primavera.
1478 Pazzi conspiracy. Terribile floods in Florence. Outbreak of plague. Leonardo writes in his notes: ”I have begun the two virgin Marys.” His best friend is Fioravante. Leonardo receives his first personal commission to be recorded in an official document (but the work never materializes).
1480 Piero moves from the house he was renting in via della prestanza to one in via Ghibellina. Lorenzo de’ Medici allies himself with Naples and makes peace with the Pope. Verrocchio is working on the Colleoni statue (Venice). Ludovico Sforza (the Moor) takes power in Milan.
1481 In March, Leonardo is commissioned to paint “The adoration of the Magi”. Botticelli, Ghirlandaio, Perugino, Piero di Cosimo, Signorelli, Antonio Pollaiolo leave for Rome in reply to a request from the Pope (Sisto IV, Francesco della Rovere).
1482 Leonardo (30 years old) goes to live in Milano. Death of Toscanelli. (mathematician, astronomer, geographer, placed the famous gnomon in Santa Maria del Fiore and supported the idea of going West to reach the East, thus supporting Columbus proposal to the King of Spain).
1483 On April 25 Leonardo is commissioned (with the Predis brothers) to paint the Virgin of the Rocks. Birth of Raphael. Charles VIII is annointed King of France.
1484 Botticelli paints the Birth of Venus. Pope Innocent VIII elected.
1485 Contract for La Vergine delle Rocce (Leonardo and Ambrogio de Predis)
1486 Plague ravages Milan The plague will last with ups and downs until 1490. Hieronymus Bosch paintings Garden of Earthly delights. Birth of Titian.
1486 Ludovico il Moro builds near Vigevano La Sforzescato cultivate the trees to feed silkworm and promote the industry.
1485 – 1489 Plague in Milan: no refernce in Leonardo’s notes. 100,000 deads.
1488 Death of Verrocchio.
1489 Leonardo studies anatomy and architecture (Libro titolato de la figura umana).
1490 Leonardo visits Pavia with Francesco di Giorgio Martini, for the Fabbrica del Duomo. Begins treatise on landscape and hydraulic works. Fresh starts on the bronze horse for the father of Ludovic the Moor. Organizes the Masque of the Planets for the marriage of Isabella of Aragon to the young duke Gian Galeazzo Sforza.
1490 On July 22nd the young Salai (Gian Giacomo Caprotti da Oreno) comes to live with him. Ten years old street boy with a beautiful face: later LdV called him Salai (Devil) and he was to live with him until the end of his life 1519.
1492 With Piero della Francesca, Bramante builds the Choir of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milano. Christopher Columbus makes first voyage to the Caribbean. Death of Lorenzo de’ Medici. Election of Pope Alexander IV (Borgia). Jews expelled from Spain.
1493 Leonardo’s clay model for the Cavallo (di Francesco Sforza) is put on display in Milan. In July a woman called Caterina (possibly his mother) joins his household. The New World is divided between Spain and Portugal by Papal Decree.
1493 on the 16th of July “Caterina” comes to live with him in Milan. His natural mother old and sick, Caterina will die shortly after and Leonardo notes in his diary the expenses for the burial (socteratura).
1494 Beginning of the Italian wars. Charles VIII of France allied of the Moor, occupies Naples. In Florence Piero de’ Medici is removed from power and the Dominican Girolamo Savonarola takes over. Pisa becomes independent. Luca Paciolo publishes his Summa de Aritmetica.
1495 Leonardo, at 43 years old, begins the Last Supper in the refectory of the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
1496 Leonardo does the drawings for Pacioli’s De divina proportione. Production of Danae. Death of Beatrice d’Este (wife of Ludovico the Moor). Emperor Maximilian enters Italy called by the Pope.
1498 Leonardo decorates la Sale delle Asse (Castello Sforzesco in Milan). Possible attempt at a flying machine. In France Louis XII succeeds Charles VIII. Girolamo Savonarola is burned at the stake condemned as herectic by the Roman Inquisition.
1499 Second Italian war. Ludovico is forced to flee. Leonardo leaves Milan, now occupied by French troops. Cesare Borgia (the son of Pope Alexander IV ) becomes duke of Valentinois and leads the papal armies throughout Italy. Venice threatened by the Turks, Leonardo offers his ideas for an underwater army to the Republic of Venice. Luca Signorelli paints the Orvieto frescoes. Probably finishes the Last Supper and sees the first signs of mould growth.
1500 Leonardo and Luca Pacioli in Mantua where Leonardo paints the Portrait in profile of Isabelle d’Este. They go on to Venice and Leonardo visits Friuli. Back in Florence he is offered hospitality by the monks of Annunziata for whom he paints the Virgin and child with Sainte Anne. Ludovico the Moor is taken prisoner by the French.
1501 Leonardo into study of mathematics. Paints Madonna with yarn-winder for Florimond Robertet. French troops in Rome. Girolamo Cardano is born: the eclectic genius between Renaissance and Middle Ages.
1502 By order of Cesare Borgia (le Valentinois) Leonardo is appointed military engineer to his armies. Leonardo visits castles and fortresses and follows the Romagna campaign, engages in cartography and meets Niccolò Machiavelli. Soderini appointed “gonfaloniere” of Florence for life.
1503 Leonardo returns to Florence. In the war with Pisa the Florentines try to divert the Arno river. Leonardo is commissioned to paint The Battle of Anghiari in the main hall of the Palazzo della Signoria. 9 July death of Ser Piero, Leonardo’s father, who leaves ten sons and two daughters. Leonardo is ignored in the will. Francesco da Vinci, Leonardo’s uncle, makes him his heir. Leonardo deals with fortifications of Piobino and hydraulic works for the Valentinois. Michelangelo draws the cartoon for the Battle of Cascina (Florence against Pisa). A committee of artists, including Leonardo, decides on the site for Michelangelo’s David.
1504 Leonardo studies the flight of birds. Makes second unsuccessful attempt to fly. Last payments for the Battle of Anghiari. Raphael makes sketches based on Mona Lisa and Leda.
1505 In May, Leonardo leaves Florence for Milan where he was summoned by Charles d’Amboise, the French Governor. He must have seen the Last Supper’s already clear signs of decay. Louis XII is greatly impressed by his small painting of a Madonna (possibly the one with a yarn winder). Bramante starts works on Saint Peter’s in Rome.
1506 Leonardo is appointed painter and engineer to Louis XII he supervises the painting of a second version of the Virgin of the Rocks and meets Francesco Melzi who was to be his lifelong friend. In September he returns to Florence on a six months visit and stays at the casa Martelli. Litigation with his stepbrothers over inheritance.
1507 Leonardo divides his life between Milan and Florence carries out studies on waterworks and designs the Trivulzio monument. (Trivulzio was the military commander of the French Armies in Italy). Michelangelo begins works on Sistine Chapel frescoes.
1508 Leonardo pursues his studies in anatomy, while continuing with hydraulics. De divina Proportione (by Pacioli with Leonardo’s drawings) is published in Venice.
1509 Death of Botticelli. Melzi draws the profile of a man in Leonardo’s notebook dated this year.
1510 Erasmus writes his Praise of Folly. Death of Charles d’Amboise. Swiss mercenaries reach the outskirts of Milan. Pope Julius II forms Holy League against the French who evacuate their troops from Milan after the battle of Ravenna. Birth of Vasari.
1511 The Medici take power again in Florence.
1512 Leo X (Giovanni de’ Medici second son of Lorenzo the Magnificent) elected Pope. In October Leonardo moves to Rome with Melzi and Salai. He works on mirrors and possibly drafts the Turin self portrait (red chalk).
1513 Death of Bramante. Leonardo visits Parma and Florence. Plans to drain Pontine marshes North of Rome, (eventually drained four centuries later by Mussolini)
1514 Death of Louis XII. Francois I reconquers the Milanese region at the battle of Marignano (against the Duke Massimiliano Sforza and the Swiss mercenaries). Leonardo writes to Giuliano de’ Medici (the first son of Lorenzo the Magnificent) the “Signore” of Florence. Machiavelli writes “the Prince”.
1515 Death of Giuliano de’ Medici. Leonardo, who may have met Francois I at the Bologna peace talks, leaves Italy for France.
1516 Leonardo, Melzi and Salai move into the chateau d’Amboise as guests of the French Royal Family.
1517 Last festivities organized by Leonardo for the marriage of Lorenzo, son of Piero de’Medici at Amboise.
1519 In April, Leonardo makes his will and on May 2nd he dies at Cloux – reportedly in the arms of the King.