Here's a really interesting worksheet for older kids learning about the famous artist Leonardo da Vinci. Can they pretend they are the famous artist writing to the Duke of Milan telling him about one your famous paintings?
Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) is remembered as one of the world’s most talented people. During his lifetime, he was known as a great Italian artist. Then, after his death, his journals revealed yet more astonishing skills – he was also an inventor and scientist far beyond his time. Learn more about this remarkable man and use our collection of printable resources below to test your knowledge.
Leonardo da Vinci was left-handed. Some people say he could paint with one hand and write at the same time with the other! He also used to write backwards, from right to left across the page. For many years, people found it difficult to understand his journals – until they used a mirror to read them. Perhaps Leonardo was deliberately trying to keep his ideas secret!
Leonardo da Vinci Quotes
“The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding.”
“When once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.”
“Painting is poetry that is seen rather than felt, and poetry is painting that is felt rather than seen.”
A Short Biography of Leonardo da Vinci
Leonardo da Vinci was born in Vinci, a town near Florence, Italy, in 1452. His father was a wealthy man and his mother was a peasant girl. Leonardo’s parents never married but his father had several wives. Leonardo had many half brothers and sisters from these relationships.
As a child, Leonardo was educated at home. His father also encouraged him to paint and draw. He showed exceptional artistic talent at a young age and his father was keen to develop this talent. When Leonardo was 14, he was sent to work as an apprentice for a well-known Florentine artist named Verrocchio. It was here that Leonardo learnt many of the skills he would later use in his paintings, drawings and sculptures.
In his twenties, Leonardo set up his own art studio and began working on church paintings and other commissions. Then, in 1482, he went to work for the Duke of Milan – a position he held for 17 years. The duke commissioned Leonardo to produce religious paintings and sculptures and to design buildings and bridges. It was during this time that Leonardo painted The Last Supper, a wall mural showing the last days of Jesus’ life. For this masterpiece, Leonardo experimented with oils, but the paint began to flake off the walls. Today, The Last Supper can be found in a convent in Milan, Italy, although the painting is largely a reconstruction of the original.
Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper
When the French invaded Milan in 1499, the duke fell from power. Leonardo returned to Florence and it was here that he worked on one of his most famous paintings, the Mona Lisa. This portrait of the wife of a Florentine official has been in the Louvre gallery in Paris for over 200 years.
Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa
Leonardo loved to paint what he saw in the world around him, but was also fascinated by how things worked. He was given permission, for example, to dissect and study human bodies in detail. He made many drawings and diagrams of the bones, muscles and internal organs he found. One of his most famous scientific sketches is the Vitruvian Man, a drawing that shows the ideal proportions of the human body.
Leonardo also studied the flight of birds and drew designs for flying machines that looked very like modern-day hang gliders and helicopters. He also drew what appeared to be boats, bicycles and other vehicles. Many of these ideas were ahead of his time, and there was no technology available to build them.
In 1516, King Francois I of France asked Leonardo to be his artist in residence and gave him a manor house. Leonardo spent the last three years of his life in France. During this time, he suffered a stroke that paralysed his right hand. This loss of mobility in his last years left him unable to organise his drawings and ideas. He died shortly after his 67th birthday. It was many years before the 13,000 pages of his journals were discovered and his talents fully realised.
Our Leonardo da Vinci Resources
Many people know Leonardo da Vinci as a famous artist and painter, but he was also a skilled inventor, scientist and mathematician amongst many other things! Which of these skills do you think he deserves an award for?
Leonardo da Vinci was a brilliant artist, and we think he'd approve of encouraging the kids to learn how to draw. Our step-by-step guide helps them learn how to draw a picture of him painting one of his masterpieces!
Kids can use this booklet to record what they've found out about Leonardo da Vinci, or maybe take it to an art museum to write down some notes on paintings by other artists?
Here's a simple colouring page of Leonardo da Vinci, perfect for younger kids. Maybe he's about to start painting the Mona Lisa?
Children need to read the text then answer some questions based on it for this Leonardo da Vinci comprehension worksheet.
Are you studying famous art and artists at the moment? If so then ask the kids to try this fun activity - can they design a poster for an exhibition by one of the greatest ever artists, Leonardo da Vinci?
Our Leonardo da Vinci factsheet teaches the kids some well-known facts and background information about the famous artist, and also a few interesting and less known facts too! Great to read on its own or to use alongside some of our Leonardo da Vinci worksheets.
I think there's one question we'd all like to ask Leonardo da Vinci - just who is the mysterious lady featured in his most famous painting, The Mona Lisa? Are there some other questions you can think of to ask this famous artist using our interview worksheet?
Leonardo da Vinci was known as a great artist, but when he died thousands of pages of his journals were discovered, containing designs for many machines and inventions. Can the kids do a little research then draw and explain one of his inventions on this worksheet?
This Leonardo da Vinci newspaper writing prompt is great for all kinds of writing projects. The kids could write about the life and works of this incredible man, or they could write a creative story based on one of his famous paintings as inspiration.
Our famous people notebooking pages are a great place for the children to write down some facts and information. One of our Leonardo da Vinci notebooking pages also has space to draw one of his paintings or inventions.
Here's a great activity if you're studying famous artists and painters. Can the children draw their own versions of some of Leonardo da Vinci's works? Once the kids have finished you can display their artwork in the classroom. Choose from UK and US versions below...
Here's a fun cartoon-style poster of Leonardo da Vinci to display in the classroom - perhaps the kids can talk about which painting he's about to start working on here?
"The noblest pleasure is the joy of understanding". Here's an inspirational poster featuring a quote by Leonardo da Vinci, who was also a great mathematician, scientist and engineer as well as a famous artist. Perfect for displaying in classrooms.
Our quote worksheets are a great way to get the kids thinking - this one features a quote by Leonardo da Vinci, and the kids need to explain it and rewrite it in their own words, too.
There's a real mystery around the woman featured in Leonardo da Vinci's Mona Lisa - the inspiration for a creative story perhaps? Choose from handwriting lines or lined versions below...
Here's a timeline activity that's great for both art and history work. Can the kids fill in some important events in the life of Leonardo da Vinci on this timeline?
This Leonardo da Vinci worksheet is aimed at younger children and is perfect for an art topic. Can the kids write about why he was famous, if they'd like to have met him and what they would have talked about?
This worksheet is perfect if you're learning about famous art and artists at the moment. It asks the children to fill in a few facts, then write about the artist and his famous works. This worksheet is all about Leonardo da Vinci.
Use our Leonardo da Vinci writing paper to write down some interesting facts about this incredible man, or a story based on one of his famous paintings? Choose from our colour or black and white versions.