Why Did Leonardo da Vinci Become An Artist?

Leonardo da Vinci left as many notebooks with his writings. But for all the pages of writings he left, he did not tell us very much about his personal life or personal thoughts.

We do not know why Leonardo da Vinci became an artist, but we do know that he was very talented and showed a disposition to the arts, even from a very young age. We also know his father helped him get into an art studio to be trained under Andrea del Verrocchio, a well-known artist in Florence, Italy.

Because Leonardo da Vinci did not leave us many of his thoughts and reasons for studying art, we can learn about Leonardo da Vinci from the book “The Lives Of The Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects” by Giorgio Vasari (1511 to 1574).

“The Lives Of The Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects” by Giorgio Vasari (1511 to 1574).

You can still purchase The Lives Of The Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects” by Giorgio Vasari (1511 to 1574). book by clicking here.

Even though Vasari was younger than Leonardo, he would have known of him; this book remains a cornerstone of art history, especially in the Renaissance era.

Here are some of our top reasons and some that Vasari mentioned in his book why Leonardo da Vinci became an artist.

Leonardo da Vinci Showed Artistic Inclinations Early In Life

Leonardo da Vinci showed that he was inclined toward art at a very young age. We know he was a curious child who took it upon himself to learn many things.

Vasari spoke of how he was unstable in many of the other pursuits in life except the arts. It shows that Leonardo was a brilliant child; he is considered by many to be a genius. We learn that he asked his tutors so many questions they could not answer.

As Giorgio Vasari said in his book The Lives Of The Most Excellent painters, Sculptors, and Architects about Leonardo da Vinci and his early schooling:

“Truly marvellous and celestial was Leonardo, the son of Ser Piero da Vinci; and in learning and in the rudiments of letters he would have made great proficience, if he had not been so variable and unstable, for he set himself to learn many things, and then, after having begun them, abandoned them. Thus, in arithmetic, during the few months that he studied it, he made so much progress, that, by continually suggesting doubts and difficulties to the master who was teaching him, he would very often bewilder him. He gave some little attention to music, and quickly resolved to learn to play the lyre, as one who had by nature a spirit most lofty and full of refinement: wherefore he sang divinely to that instrument, improvising upon it.“

The Lives Of The Most Excellent painters, Sculptors, and Architects by Giorgio Vasari (1550)

At Age 15 Leonardo Apprenticed To Andrea del Verrocchio

Leonardo’s father, Ser Piero, saw that his son could not keep his attention span in almost any area except art. Leonardo showed promise in math, languages, and music, but it was the arts that he enjoyed.

Leonardo’s father approached Andrea del Verrocchio, who was one of the leading artists of the late 15th century in Florence, to see if Leonardo could study in his studio. At the age of 15, Leonardo went to study art at Verrocchio’s studio.

“Nevertheless, although he occupied himself with such a variety of things, he never ceased drawing and working in relief, pursuits which suited his fancy more than any other. Ser Piero, having observed this, and having considered the loftiness of his intellect, one day took some of his drawings and carried them to Andrea del Verrocchio, who was much his friend, and besought him straitly to tell him whether Leonardo, by devoting himself to drawing, would make any proficience. Andrea was astonished to see the extraordinary beginnings of Leonardo, and urged Ser Piero that he should make him study it; wherefore he arranged with Leonardo that he should enter the workshop of Andrea, which Leonardo did with the greatest willingness in the world.”

The Lives Of The Most Excellent painters, Sculptors, and Architects by Giorgio Vasari (1550

Even at 15 years old, Andrea del Verrocchio was surprised to see Leonardo’s talent. From this, we can learn that Leonardo was interested in art and wanted to train to become an artist.

Leonardo da Vinci Trained In Painting And Sculpture And Many Other Professions

Leonardo was known to not just train in one type of art but many types and kinds of arts. His training was in drawing, painting, and sculpting; at a young age, he started working on his inventions and architecture.

“And he practised not one branch of art only, but all those in which drawing played a part; and having an intellect so divine and marvellous that he was also an excellent geometrician, he not only worked in sculpture, making in his youth, in clay, some heads of women that are smiling, of which plaster casts are still taken, and likewise some heads of boys which appeared to have issued from the hand of a master; but in architecture, also, he made many drawings both of ground-plans and of other designs of buildings; and he was the first, although but a youth, who suggested the plan of reducing the river Arno to a navigable canal from Pisa to Florence. He made designs of flour-mills, fulling-mills, and engines, which might be driven by the force of water:”

The Lives Of The Most Excellent painters, Sculptors, and Architects by Giorgio Vasari (1550

Even at a very young age, Leonardo did not stop learning or looking at how to solve a problem. He was always looking for something to invent, change or improve.

From An Early Age, Leonardo da Vinci Showed Artistic Genius

When Leonardo studied under Andrea del Verrocchio, it must have been very humbling for Andrea del Verrocchio to have a student who could paint and execute color even better than he, as the master, could.

“…to learn art with Andrea del Verrocchio, who was making a panel-picture of S. John baptizing Christ, when Leonardo painted an angel who was holding some garments; and although he was but a lad, Leonardo executed it in such a manner that his angel was much better than the figures of Andrea; which was the reason that Andrea would never again touch colour, in disdain that a child should know more than he.“The Lives Of The Most Excellent painters, Sculptors, and Architects by Giorgio Vasari (1550

We learn from Vasari that Leonardo showed some artistic genius at a very young and early age. I believe it is because of this artistic genius and natural ability that Leonardo knew he could earn a living as an artist.

Art Allowed Leonardo da Vinci To Study Other Subjects

Leonardo da Vinci may have trained as an artist during his lifetime, but art was not his real professional interest. Leonardo was an Italian painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect, engineer, inventor, medical researcher, and scientist.

He was an individual who never tired of knowledge and was not afraid to try to invent or learn something new. Being an artist during the Renaissance allowed him to practice his art and continue researching, creating, and inventing.

“And he was continually making models and designs to show men how to remove mountains with ease, and how to bore them in order to pass from one level to another; and by means of levers, windlasses, and screws, he showed the way to raise and draw great weights, together with methods for emptying harbours, and pumps for removing water from low places, things which his brain never ceased from devising; and of these ideas and labours many drawings may be seen, scattered abroad among our craftsmen; and I myself have seen not a few.”

Leonardo did not tell us why he became an artist. Still, Giorgio Vasari, in his book The Lives Of The Most Excellent painters, Sculptors, and Architects (1550), does help us discover some of the things that motivated Leonardo to become an artist.

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By clicking here, you can learn more by reading How Was Leonardo da Vinci Able To Master So Many Different Professions?.

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By clicking here, you can learn more by reading What Can We Learn From Leonardo Da Vinci?.

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By clicking here, you can learn more by reading Was Leonardo da Vinci A Philosopher?.

Anita Louise Hummel

Hi, I am Anita Louise Hummel. I am an artist and a blogger. I paint mainly oil paints. I love to paint women, animals (mainly dogs and cats), and abstracts. I use a lot of gold and silver leaf in my paintings. I also love to blog about anything to do with art, business, Procreate, and all the wonderful artists that inspire me.

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The Lives Of The Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects