This year we celebrate the 500th anniversary of the death of the great Italian artist, Leonardo Da Vinci. Leonardo was born on April 15 1452 in Vinci, just outside Florence. He is known, not only for his paintings, but for his studies on flying machines, geometry, human anatomy and architecture. He also invented a primitive bicycle, a helicopter and the scissors! He was a very unusual character; he wrote backwards and his writing can only be understood with a mirror.

Probably, his most famous work is La Gioconda, or Mona Lisa as she is called in English. Everybody recognises her admires her, but nobody knows who she really was or why she is smiling. Leonardo started the painting in 1503 and kept it with him all the time until he died in France in 1519. Later King Francis I of France paid four thousand gold crowns for it and rumour has it that Napoleon put it on his bedroom wall.

It was even stolen from the Louvre in Paris! The famous burglary happened on 21st August 1911. The thief was Italian Vincenzo Peruggia who simply took the painting, hid it under his coat and walked out of the museum. The police were baffled and they called it the greatest art theft of the 20th century. They even thought Spanish artist Pablo Picasso was involved! The painting was missing for two years until Peruggia tried to sell it and the police were alerted.

 

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