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Leonardo Davinci

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1452-1519, Italian painter, sculptor, architect, musician, engineer, and

scientist, probably the supreme example of Renaissance genius. Born in Vinci,

Tuscany, he was the illegitimate son of a Florentine notary and a peasant girl.

His precocious artistic talent brought him to Verrocchio's workshop in 1466,

where he met Botticelli and Ghirlandaio. The cul mination of his art in this

first period in Florence is seen in the magnificent, unfinished Adoration of the

Magi (Uffizi), with its characteristic dramatic movement and chiaroscuro. In

c.1482 Leonardo went to the court of Ludovico Sforza in Milan and there composed

most of his Trattato della pittura and the notebooks that demonstrate his versa

tile genius. The severe plagues in 1484 and 1485 drew his attention to town

planning, and his drawings and plans for domed churches reflect his concern with

architectural problems. In 1483, Leonardo and his pupil Ambrogio de Predis were

commissioned to execute the famous Madonna of the Rocks (two versions:

1483-c.1486, Louvre; 1483-1508, National Gall., London). The now badly damaged

Last Supper (c.1495-1498; Milan) was executed during the period when he was

experimenting with the Fresco medium, and this partly accounts for its damage.

Despite this, a sublime spiritual content and power of invention mark it as one

of the world's masterpieces. Leonardo's model for an equestrian monument to

Francesco Sforza was never cast, and in 1500 he returned to Florence, where he

did much theoretical work in mathematics and



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