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Leonardo: from art and anatomy to helicopters and submarines

One of the most accomplished human beings who ever lived, Leonardo remains the quintessential Renaissance genius. Creator of the world's most famous painting, this scientist, artist, philosopher, inventor, builder, and mechanic epitomized the great flowering of human consciousness that marks his era. And yet, so wide-ranging and prolific were his interests that he brought hardly any major undertaking to a final end.

If Leonardo seems so modern, it is perhaps because of his non-speciality, his magpie mind and curiosity, and his thousands of notes and sketches. In these pages he would anticipate some of the great discoveries and inventions that would follow him, from key points in anatomy—such as the principles behind blood circulation—through to plans for armoured military vehicles, planes, helicopters and submarines.

Leonardo also advanced numerous artistic techniques, and implicated a complex psychology into his paintings of The Last Supper and the enigmatic La Gioconda, or Mona Lisa. Famous horseman, rival to Michelangelo, military engineer to the Borgias, he died in 1519 in a chateau given to him by Francis I, King of France. Not bad for the illegitimate son of a Florentine notary.
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