Leonardo da Vinci, born in Vinci (Tuscany) April 15, 1452 and died in Amboise (Touraine) May 2, 1519, is a Tuscan painter and a man of universal spirit, both artist, organizer of shows and parties, scientist, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, urban planner, botanist, musician, poet, philosopher and writer.

Leonardo da Vinci is often described as the archetype and symbol of the Renaissance man, a universal genius, a humanist philosopher, observer and experimenter, with a « rare gift of the intuition of space » and whose Infinite curiosity is only matched by the power of invention. Many authors and historians consider him one of the greatest painters of all time and some as the most talented person in the greatest number of different fields ever having lived. It is first as a painter that Leonardo da Vinci is recognized. Two of his works, The Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, are world-famous paintings, often copied and parodied, and his drawing of the Vitruvian Man is also included in many derivative works.

As engineer and inventor, Leonard develops ideas far ahead of his time, such as the plane, the helicopter, the submarine and even the automobile. Very few of his projects are realized or even only feasible in his lifetime, but some of his smallest inventions, such as a machine to measure the elastic limit of a cable, enter the world of manufacture. As a scientist, Leonardo da Vinci has greatly advanced knowledge in the fields of

tomie, civil engineering, optics and hydrodynamics. In September 1513, Leonardo da Vinci left for Rome to work for Julio de Medici, brother of Pope Leo X, member of the rich and powerful family of the same name. At the Vatican, Raphael and Michelangelo are both very active at this time. « The Medici made me, the Medici destroyed me, » wrote Leonardo da Vinci, no doubt to emphasize the disappointments of his Roman stay. No doubt he thought that he would never be allowed to measure up on an important project. No doubt he was also aware of his instability, his rapid discouragement, his difficulty in completing what he had undertaken.

Beyond friendship, Leonard keeps his private life secret. During his lifetime, his extraordinary abilities of invention, his « exceptional physical beauty, » his « infinite grace, » his « great strength and generosity, » the « tremendous breadth of his spirit, » as described by Vasari, fueled the curiosity. Many authors have speculated on the different aspects of Leonardo’s personality. His sexuality has often been the subject of study, analysis and speculation. This trend began in the mid-sixteenth century and was revived during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, notably by Sigmund Freud. Leonardo’s most intimate relationships are with his students Salai and Francesco Melzi. Melzi wrote that Leonardo’s feelings were a mixture of love and passion. It has been described since the sixteenth century that these relations were of an erotic character. Since then, writers have written extensively about his homosexuality and even his alleged pederasty and the role of this sexuality in his art, particularly in the androgynous and erotic impression that manifests itself in Bacchus and more explicitly in some many of his drawings.