top 10 leonardo da vinci famous paintings

While Leonardo da Vinci is regarded as the most renowned fine artist of the Western world, he did not define himself as an artist at all. In fact, he rejected the creative title. Instead, he saw himself as an engineer, scientist, and mathematical. Nevertheless, his artwork has become his most famous legacy. However, many of his pieces are heavily influenced by science and biology. The incredible proportions of his subjects are what made his work stand the test of time and continue to fascinate historians today. To celebrate the master of the Renaissance, we’ve highlighted Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous paintings below.

Mona Lisa

Not only is the Mona Lisa Leonardo da Vinci’s most famous work of art, it is arguably the most famous painting in the world. The subject of endless debates throughout history, it is almost impossible to summarize the impact of this piece. Originally painted between 1503-1506, the mystery behind the piece is what continues to captivate viewers over 500 years later. It offers a sense of atmospheric illusionism that differentiates it from other paintings of the Renaissance era. The subject is believed to be Lisa del Giocondo, but nobody knows who is truly depicted in the piece.  

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leonardo da vinci most famous painting

The Last Supper

Giving the Mona Lisa a run for its title of most famous painting, The Last Supper is also filled with fascinating symbolism. It showcases the Last Supper of Jesus with his Twelve Apostles. It was originally commissioned by an Italian nobleman named Ludovico Sforza, who intended to convert a church into a private mausoleum. The scene portrays each of the apostle’s reactions when Jesus reveals that one of them will be his betrayer. While the apostle to Jesus’ right is supposed to depict John, some have argued that it may be Mary Magdalene.

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da vinci famous paintings

The Vitruvian Man

As we mentioned, Leonardo da Vinci was not only an artist, he was also a scientist. He was fascinated with human biology, as evidence in his sketch books. His most famous sketch is the Vitruvian Man. Showcasing the proportions of a human man inside both a circle and a square. It is called the Vitruvian Man due to its inspiration from the Roman architect Vitruvius.

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leonardo da vinci most famous paintings

Studies of the Fetus in the Womb

In a similar vein, Studies of the Fetus in the Womb includes two sketches of Leonardo da Vinci’s studies of the human body. These pictures are remarkable anatomically accurate for his time. He correctly illustrated the structure of the uterine artery and the vascular system of the female reproductive organs. Leonardo da Vinci was fascinated with the development of homo sapiens.

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famous paintings by leonardo da vinci

Saint John the Baptist

Saint John the Baptist is believed to be Leonardo da Vinci’s final complete painting. He used oil paint on walnut wood to create a dramatic, glowing figure emerging from the shadows. He used a technique called chiaroscuro which creates a three-dimensional effect using a contrast of light and dark. Curiously, the face of John the Baptist resembles that of the Mona Lisa. Although it is a spiritual piece, there is a striking element that some perceive as unnerving. Like all of his work, it has sparked endless conversations about symbolism.

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paintings by leonardo da vinci

The Madonna of the Carnation

The Madonna of the Carnation was painted between 1478–1480. It shows the Virgin Mary holding a newborn baby Jesus. This piece was originally credited to Andrea del Verrocchio, an Italian painter and sculptor. After an extensive study on the piece, historians now believe that it was actually painted by Leonardo da Vinci. They compared it to another work of Leonardo da Vinci titled, Annunciation.

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leonardo da vinci most famous paintings

Battle of Anghiari 

This piece depicts four men fighting in the Battle of Anghiari, which was a fight between Milan and states within the Republic of Florence. The painting was actually a failure, and subsequently never completed. However, his sketches became just as famous as his completed bodies of work. There are several variations of this piece and some are thought to be copies of the original.

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leonardo da vinci paintings most famous

Head of a Woman, La Scapigliata

Another unfinished painting, La Scapigliata, uses oil paint, umber, and white led on poplar wood. Just like the Mona Lisa, this portrait employs a technique known as “sfumato”. This refers to a technique that blurs the transition in between colors to create a soft-focus effect. Da Vinci was known for mastering this dreamy technique throughout his career.

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Salvator Mundi

The Salvator Mundi is a famous depiction of Jesus Christ that predates Leonardo da Vinci’s work  by centuries. This iconic portrayal is believed to have originated in the workshop of a Renaissance master, possibly dating back to the late 15th century. However, it was Leonardo da Vinci who famously breathed life into the subject with his own rendition.

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Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk

Portrait of a Man in Red Chalk is an enigmatic, captivating image. The subject's identity remains uncertain, adding to the intrigue surrounding the piece. Characterized by da Vinci's meticulous attention to detail and mastery of light and shadow, the portrait showcases the artist's profound understanding of human anatomy and expression.

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top famous paintings of leonardo da vinci

Bring Home Leonardo da Vinci’s Famous Paintings

Leonardo da Vinci's artistic legacy is defined by a diverse range of works that showcase his insatiable curiosity about the world. From his iconic depiction of human anatomy to his enigmatic portraits suffused with sfumato, da Vinci's paintings continue to captivate audiences worldwide. His ability to blend art with science is evident in his anatomically accurate studies and his innovative use of light and shadow. Da Vinci's Italian masterpieces remain timeless examples of the Renaissance ideal of harmonizing beauty, intellect, and creativity.

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