Commissioned by the Duke of MIlan, da Vinci was in the process of building the largest equestrian statue in the world when war broke out. The invading French armies used the original clay model as target practice.
Leonardo da Vinci dug into graveyards at night to steal corpses and study human anatomy (and find out where the soul was).
"Leonardo had one of the greatest scientific minds of the Italian Renaissance. He wanted to know the workings of what he saw in nature. Many of his inventions and scientific ideas were centuries ahead of his time. For example, he was the first person to study the flight of birds scientifically. Leonardo's importance to art was even greater than his importance to science. He had a strong influence on many leading artists, including Raphael and Michelangelo. Leonardo's balanced compositions and idealized figures became standard features of later Renaissance art. Painters also tried to imitate Leonardo's knowledge of perspective and anatomy, and his accurate observations of nature."