1. Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci – an illegitimate child without even an official surname – is now considered to be a universal genius and one of the most diversely talented people to have ever lived. Although most well-known for his paintings, especially the Mona Lisa and The Last Supper, da Vinci was also an incredibly talented scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, sculptor, architect, musician and writer; his collected works are considered one of the biggest contributions to later generations of artists.

2. Salvador Dali

Eccentric both in his art and real life, Dali’s repertoire extended beyond his infamous paintings into sculpture, photography and even film, including a collaboration with Walt Disney. Born just after the turn of the century, Dali devoured artistic influences before developing his own unique style, which was influenced by – and incorporated – holography, optical illusions, natural science and mathematics.

3. Coco Chanel

Famed for the influential 1923 ‘Chanel suit’, Coco Chanel’s humble childhood could arguably be presented as the origins of her unique approach to style; by pursuing the classic and expensive based on simpler designs and ‘poorer’ fabrics. Her pioneering designs were undisputedly among the most important to modern fashion, earning her place as the only representative of haute couture on TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people of the 20th century.

4. Mahatma Gandhi

Mahatma Gandhi pioneered the resistance of tyranny through non-violent methods, and was one of the strongest driving philosophers behind the Indian independence movement. Despite his position as a major political and spiritual leader, Ghandi never wavered from his belief in non-violence and truth, living simply and continuously campaigning for the alleviation of poverty, the liberation for women and an end to racism and caste discrimination.

5. Jack Kerouac

Although he received very little critical acclaim in his lifetime, Jack Kerouac is now considered an important and influential writer, credited with bearing influence over, among others, Simon & Garfunkel, Bob Dylan and The Beatles. Rejecting the social norms of the 1950’s, Kerouac’s work has been ascribed with the desire to find higher meaning. After a short, eventful life, an alcoholic Kerouac died at the age of 47 from an internal haemorrhage.

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