Leonardo da Vinci was an Italian polymath of the High Renaissance who was active as a painter, draughtsman, engineer, scientist, theorist, sculptor and architect. While his fame initially rested on his achievements as a painter, he also became known for his notebooks, in which he made drawings and notes on a variety of subjects, including anatomy, astronomy, botany, cartography, painting, and paleontology. Leonardo's genius epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal, and his collective works compose a contribution to later generations of artists matched only by that of his younger contemporary, Michelangelo.
Born out of wedlock to a successful notary and a lower-class woman in, or near, Vinci, he was educated in Florence by the renowned Italian painter and sculptor Andrea del Verrocchio. He began his career in the city, but then spent much time in the service of Ludovico Sforza in Milan. Later, he worked in Florence and Milan again, as well as briefly in Rome, all while attracting a large following of imitators and students. Upon the invitation of Francis I, he spent his last three years in France, where he died in 1519.