Leonardo da Vinci is a famous Italian painter, inventor, sculptor, and musician, among his many other talents. He lived from 1452 to 1519, and is considered to be the archetype of the "Renaissance man," meaning that he was skilled in a huge variety of fields. He was born as the illegitimate son of a peasant, but during his lifetime, rose to great fame and gained such respect throughout the world that he was carried to his deathbed by the King of France.
Some of the greatest accomplishments by Leonardo da Vinci are in the field of painting. He is responsible for creating many of the world's most famous and renowned works of art, including the Mona Lisa painting, a portrait of a woman with a mysterious smile. Da Vinci was also the painter of an iconic religious image, The Last Supper, which pictures Jesus eating dinner at a long table with his disciples.
Leonardo da Vinci also wrote in a series of notebooks, which added up to more than 13,000 pages over the course of his lifetime. Primarily, the notebooks were filled with writings and drawings relating to art, science, and philosophy. They included notes for inventions that were far ahead of his time, such as sketches of an imaginary aircraft or notes for building an armored military tank. Today, these notebooks are featured in exhibitions in museums throughout the world, such as the Louvre in Paris and the British Museum in London. Other scholars and writers, including Giorgio Vasari and H. Taine, have spoken of da Vinci as the greatest artist ever to live.
There have been many representations of Leonardo da Vinci in popular culture through the years. Most recently, a book called The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown was published in 2003. The book dealt with a supposed conspiracy about Jesus, and insinuated that the artist himself was a member of a secret society called the Priory of Sion, though there is no evidence that this society has ever existed in real life. A film based on the book, starring Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou, was released in 2006.