You say "da Vinci," I say "Leonardo"

I was always under the impression that the artist’s name was “Leonardo” and that “da Vinci” meant he came from Vinci near Florence, and that was not his last name. Therefore, calling him “da Vinci,” as everybody seems to do now, is not correct. Is this true, or am I wrong?

Sure, except what is a surname anyway? Is there really any difference between calling him Mr DaVinci and calling someone else, say, Mr Dupont? Surnames came into being from trade, place, behaviour descriptors, so why not include DaVinci in that?

You are correct, sir!

As I understand it, “Da Vinci” means he came from there, and not that this was his last name!

Calling him “Da Vinci” is just wrong. He deserves to be called Leonardo just as Galileo deserves to be called by that name and Michaelangelo and Cher derserve their first names!

Well, maybe not Cher

You wouldn’t call me “from Dallas, Geogia”, wouldya? :smiley:


If it’s the only way to identify him without confusion, then why not stick with ‘Da Vinci’? It’s hardly as if his mother is going to complain. If it’s the commonly-used phrase, and there’s no other common option, then go with the inaccurate one. Nobody is forcing you to permanently identify your collection along those lines.

His father was Ser Piero da Vinci

(from Wikipedia)

Anyone know when the modern naming convention started in Europe?

These days, if you just say “Leonardo,” a lot of folks will think you mean Leonardo DiCaprio.

Or the mutant ninja turtle.

Yep. Galileo is the proper title. I’ve read this but please don’t ask me for a cite.

An old thread discussing such conventions, with particular emphasis on Leonardo and Galileo.

Quick! Recall all those books and change the title!!!

I’d say Leonardo is his main name. Calling him Da Vinci is approximately the equivalent of referring to Alexander as Mr Great.

I disagree; I think not calling him Da Vinci is approximately equivalent to calling John Smith, “John, descendant of a metalworker”

John, claims he’s a smith but he’s really an accountant?

Where did the “Shouldn’t that be” that I’d planned to put in there go?

Preview is for fraidycats.

Good think I am one though, or the number of typos in this post would be much larger.

It varied a lot depending on the country…