SOME years earlier, thousands took in hook, line and sinker Dan Brown’s novel, The Da Vinci Code, as historical.
The genius behind the whole fictitious story was born in Vinci, of the province of Tuscany, Italy, on April 4, 1452. His father, a lawyer by the name of Piero de Vinci, had an illicit affair with a peasant woman, Caterina. To hide the birth of their illegitimate child, the mother had to stay in the remote village of Anchiano. At his baptism, the child was named Leonardo de Ser Piero da Vinci. Leonardo had a dozen half brothers and sisters, for his father married three different women, in succession.
After a very basic early education in the reading, writing and math, the young Leonardo was apprenticed as a “studio boy” to a renowned painter Andrea Verrochio.
The budding artist turned out to be also a great inventor of: 1) flying machine, 2) fighting machine (primitive battle tank), 3) parachute, 4) adding machine, 5) solar powered generator.
But his genius shone brightest in his paintings. Besides his “Virgin on the Rocks,” Leonardo da Vinci is famous for painting “The Last Supper” -- the basis of the famous or infamous Dan Brown novel, “The Da Vinci Code.” These days, art lovers flock to the Milanese Dominican Convent’s dining room to see this immortal painting, featuring among many things Jesus flanked by Judas and John, the beloved apostle.
The other famous Da Vinci painting, “Mona Lisa” (the lady with a mystic smile), hangs on a wall in Paris’ Louvre Museum.
Thousand theories swirl around the figures of John (Dan Brown swears it is actually Mary Magdalene) and Mona Lisa. But reliable art critics think both figures actually depict Leonardo da Vinci himself, dressed as a woman.
Not only was he a universal genius, he was a great humorist, and he had the last laugh.