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Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) was an Italian polymath: scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, musician, and writer.

He was born and raised in Vinci, Italy, the illegitimate son of a notary, Messer Piero, and a peasant woman, Caterina. He had no surname in the modern sense; "da Vinci" simply means "of Vinci". His full birth name was "Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci", meaning "Leonardo, son of (Mes)ser Piero from Vinci.

Leonardo has been described as the archetype of the "Renaissance man", a man whose seemingly infinite curiosity was equalled only by his powers of invention. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest painters of all time, and the man with the most diversely prodigious talent ever to have lived.

It is primarily for his painted works that Leonardo has been held in renown, even during his own lifetime. Two of his works, the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper occupying unique positions as the most famous, the most illustrated and most imitated portrait and religious painting of all time, only approached in fame by Michelangelo's Creation of Adam. His drawing of the Vitruvian Man is also iconic.

As an engineer, Leonardo conceived ideas vastly ahead of his own time, conceptually inventing a helicopter, a tank, the use of concentrated solar power, a calculator, a rudimentary theory of plate tectonics, the double hull, and many others. Relatively few of his designs were constructed or were feasible during his lifetime.[3] Some of his smaller inventions such as an automated bobbin winder and a machine for testing the tensile strength of wire entered the world of manufacturing unheralded.

In practice, he greatly advanced the state of knowledge in the fields of anatomy, astronomy, civil engineering, optics, and the study of water (hydrodynamics). Of his works, only a few paintings survive, together with his notebooks (scattered among various collections) containing drawings, scientific diagrams, and notes.