Leonardo da Vinci was born on 15 April 1452 in Anchiano near Vinci. At his death on 2 May 1519 he left not only 21 paintings which are now among the most famous in the world, but also an almost inconceivable abundance of 10,000 design sheets with 100,000 drawings and sketches, as well as a journal of 6,000 pages.
For Leonardo the present separation of science, art and technology did not exist; rather, he not only concerned himself with painting, anatomy and architecture, but also devoted himself to technology to such an extent that it seems justifiable to refer to him as the father of mechanics. Leonardo was concerned with optics and machinery, and designed pumping stations, clock mechanisms, building cranes, an automobile powered by a spring motor, clutches, flywheels, connecting rods, valves, cams, ball bearings, worm gears and other machine elements which are still used in modern designs. He also designed flying machines, and although their functionality is rightly questioned today, in terms of the crucial aspect, the wing profile, they were nevertheless already astonishingly similar to modern solutions.
As a pioneer in the field of science, Leonardo understood better than anyone else how to draw on knowledge from other disciplines to address previously unsolved questions and problems.
In light of his creativity and greatness of mind, the following eulogy by his favourite pupil Francesco Melzi is all too understandable:
"Each of us must mourn the loss of a man that nature is powerless to recreate."