He invented the hang-glider, designed the first submarine and painted probably the world's most famous picture.
But Creative and Cultural Skills has identified the real reason for Leonardo da Vinci's success: his apprenticeship. Inspired by the proto-Renaissance man, the sector skills council is developing a new apprenticeship for creativity.
Tony Hall, chairman of the council, said: "'How can you teach creativity?'
is the question invariably asked. Artists are born, not made. However, the idea that creativity flourishes best if left alone is ludicrous. A creative apprentice is hardly a new idea. Da Vinci served a lengthy apprenticeship, lasting upwards of 10 years."
In a council pamphlet, Will Hutton, chief executive of the Work Foundation, proposes a single vocational route for people interested in creative industries, from curating museums to advertising.
Creative industries are growing at twice the rate of the rest of the UK economy, and music and computer industries now earn as much as steel and textiles, he said.
But Mr Hutton said service-sector employers were not supporting apprenticeships to the extent that industry did, because their work was more of an amorphous concept than a fixed set of skills.
The new apprenticeship would involve the highest level of attainment in key skills, as well as teaching about the creative process.
A framework for the new apprenticeship is due to be drawn up by spring next year, and the first trainees could start work next September.